I watch a lot of StarCraft. Not only does watching teach me things and give me something to aspire to, watching eSports is just fun and makes me part of the community (long version of that idea here). Since I watch so much, I am pretty familiar with the landscape and can usually narrow in on the better content. I can see how scary it might be trying to jump in and sort through all of the content, so here’s my guide on watching StarCraft.
Step 1: where do I find StarCraft? Well, just about everywhere. There are great archives of past tournaments and tutorial videos, but most of the action is around streams, and there are a few easy places to find that.
- Team Liquid. Team Liquid is kind of a mess, but the important stuff is all in the right sidebar. At the top is the calendar of major tournaments and events. When those events are live, you should see links to those event. More frequently (and continuously), there are live streams of players practicing in the area just below that. All of the players in this unexpanded area is notable professional players and worth watching.
- Teevox. I don’t use it myself, but this is a front-end for browsing and switching between streams rapidly. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
- Twitch. Most streamers use Twitch, and this is the big directory of those streams. I don’t like it as much since it sorts strictly by # of viewers instead of quality of play, but it’s a good heuristic and will help you discover new players to watch
Step 2: what’s worth watching? With a continuous stream of streams and so many tournaments, you should know what the biggest, best produced, most talented tournaments are. The full list of events is in Liquipedia, but here’s my rundown of events worth watching when they appear on the Team Liquid calendar.
- GSL. The GOMTV Star League features the best (Korean) players in the world in month long tournaments. It’s absolutely worth watching… if you’re awake. The month long Code S tournaments run for a month and are on past midnight pacific time, so it’s a stretch for North America to watch live
- MLG. Major League Gaming has a weekend tournament every month or 2 and flies in players from around the world. These tournaments are in the United States, so it’s more friendly for these time zones.
- IEM. Intel Extreme Masters is run by the Electronic Sports League, and they hold major tournaments all around the world, so good luck with the timing. They usually cover a weekend and a few days.
- DreamHack. DreamHack is a European circuit, and they just do things right. It’s a lot of European talent, but also a lot of other players, and they always manage to hold epic tournaments with memorable games. The timing is usually North America friendly as the weekend tournaments start in the morning and wrap up in the afternoon.
- Proleague. Technically, this is a team league, but these guys are Brood War veterans, and crazy stuff happens in team leagues. For pacific time, they’re on in the later evenings (maybe 8PM-1AM) from Friday to Tuesday, which is actually perfect for my schedule.
- WCS. The World Championship Series is Blizzard’s own. They just unveiled the plans, and it looks pretty exciting
And just for completeness, let me rattle off a few more tournaments and content to watch: NASL, Homestory Cup, Iron Squid, OSL, ASUS ROG, GSTL, and EGMC.
What really ties watching StarCraft together is the community, and I hope you join these as well.
- Team Liquid. This really is the home for the foreigner scene. The forums are a mess, but content is good.
- /r/starcraft. There’s a lot of drama and fluff, but that’s kind of what a community is about, right? I check this multiples times a day.
- BarCrafts. Why sit at home alone watching StarCraft on your computer when you can meet up with other StarCraft fans in public and watch together in a sports bar environment? Follow the reference links from the wikipedia page to find more.
If you’re deep in the scene and think I missed something important, let me know. Otherwise, I hope you look into watching StarCraft and the rest of the scene. There’s such an overwhelming amount of content that /r/starcraft often jokes that most members just watch and don’t even play StarCraft anymore. Although I hope that’s not the case for you, there’s so much out there, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!