Monday, 30 January 2012

A Brief History of Being Foreign

There have been quite a few articles recently discussing the in and outs of Koreans joining foreign teams.  Fine, whatever, it's a reasonably interesting phenomenon.  But the idea that it's new is, frankly, baffling.  Maybe it's just another symptom of the fact that 90% of the SC2 scene only got into esports in the past 18 months, but esports has had players on non-domestic teams for as long as I can remember and probably even before that.

Back when in 2001 when i first got interested in online gaming, 4k (or Infinity-eSports, depending on what day of the week it was) was the British team to follow.  They represented us better than any team since (excluding CS: Source because, well. who cares) and even managed some solid tournament placings.  Oh, yeah, and back then, they had a Dutch player called Kwak.  Yep, way back in 2001, before SC2 was even a hype video with a "Soon (TM)" deadline, a British team fielded a non-British player.

This carried on throughout Counter-Strike history, with Norwegians on American teams, Dutch and Austrian players on German teams and several other foreigners on the 4k team to mention but a few.  A handful of players, such as Lurppis, even made long-term moves across the globe to be with their team-mates, something that most Korean SC2 players on foreign teams have yet to do.

In my own favourite esports scene, Warcraft III, Koreans playing for European teams was even more prevelant.  It worked perfectly well for years, until MYM decided to go and fuck it all up, but that's another story.  In fact, it was probably more common for a WC3 player to be a foreign team than it was for him to be on one from his own country.  Did the great Grubby ever play for a Dutch team after he made a name for himself?  Nope.  Only a small number of countries could support a team with enough talent to make it worthwhile and so most players were attached to a 4k, an MYM or an SK.  The top Koreans were even slated as "mercernaries," especially the SK ones, because they moved to more lucrative foreign contracts when it became clear that the game hadn't really taken off in Korea.

The fact is, players being on a foreign team is nothing new.  By all means write about it and discuss its merits and its weaknesses, but please do just the tiniest bit of research and realise that the concept is as old as esports, let alone sports in general.