The StarCraft ProLeague was a cornerstone of the StarCraft eSports scene. Originally launched in March 2003, the league saw over a decade of matches, and brought StarCraft into Korea as an eSports mainstay. However, after 14 seasons of competitive play, the league is officially shuttering its doors for good, as reported by the Korean website Fomos.
According to the article, The Korea e-Sports Association (or KeSPA for short) has decided to shut down the ProLeague today, Oct 18th. KeSPA Chairman Jun Byung Hun also released a statement on the league's closing, honouring its history while communicating the bumpy road that the ProLeague experienced in its final days.
"We had faced challenges that hindered ProLeague’s operations including the acute drop in global eSports sponsorships in 2008 caused by the global financial crisis, the first case of eSports match-fixing, and declining number of teams," Hun said. "[T]he drop in the number of ProLeague teams and players, difficulty securing league sponsors, and match fixing issues have made it challenging to maintain ProLeague. As such, KeSPA has come to announce the discontinuation of ProLeague and its operations of the five out of total seven StarCraft professional teams that participated in ProLeague 2016."
Suffice to say, the StarCraft eSports community is in mourning today. Casters, players and reporters alike are claiming that the recent closure marks an "end of an era," and that our view of StarCraft as a major eSports game within Korea may be at stake.
Proleague was my dream tournament.
I'm truely blessed to have been able to cast it from 2014 until the end with OGaming and during IEM.
— FunKa (@FunKaStarcraft) October 18, 2016
With Proleague shutting down and a handful of Kespa clubs dropping their teams, this looks like the end of an Era for Starcraft.#thankyou
— Carlos - ocelote (@CarlosR) October 18, 2016
Korean Starcraft 2 as we know it is dead. Proleague discontinued.
KT, SKT, Samsung, MVP, CJ disband Starcraft divisions.
End of an era. pic.twitter.com/Qhs9qZTpHb
— The Esports Writer (@FionnOnFire) October 18, 2016
It's unlikely that the entire StarCraft eSports scene will die out, of course. The game is still a major competitive title around the world. But its standing may be threatened by such titles as Dota 2, League of Legends and even Overwatch, as eSports scenes new and old alike begin to take the world by storm. Regardless, the StarCraft ProLeague will surely be missed.