Source thread here.
Notes: mensrea was the original news writer on TL, along with WaxAngel. He brought the news for the better part of two years, and helped get my interest up in this field. He was a fanatical Nal_rA fan, and also liked other protoss gamers such as Reach and Kingdom.
His battle reports were art in the days before VODs were available, and each thread was greatly anticipated, as he was our window to the proscene. I will post my favorite of his battle reports next time.
In this installment though, you can take a look back at a pivotal moment in progaming history. The moment where Boxer took his team from 4U and created the goliath that is SKT1. Enjoy.
On April 08 2004 23:45 mensrea wrote:
Some interesting news from Korea: after much anticipation, the Korean telecommunications giant SK Telecom, one of the bluest of blue chip companies in Asia, has officially announced that it will be taking over and sponsoring Boxer's 4U team. Financial details have not been released yet, but officials close to the deal did confirm that Boxer would be awarded the richest contract in professional gaming history. So much for Nal_rA's record!!
In fact, SKT has also made it clear that they intend to treat the rest of the 4U team in a manner consistent with the company's status as one of the largest, most valuable companies in Asia. Besides funding for players and manager salaries and day-to-day operating expenses, the sponsorship package includes a spacious 3550+ sq. feet team office/dormitory as well as an official team van that seats 12 (appropriately, a 2004 Chevrolet Starcraft - I'm not joking). It was reported that SKT is expected to invest several million dollars (US) in total per year on the sponsorship and operation of Boxer's team. That is some SERIOUS cash.
The news comes hot on the heels of KTF's (the second largest mobile telecommunications company in Korea after - you guessed it - SKT) recent shock announcement that it would be signing reigning OGN Starleague champion Nal_rA ("Kang Min") to its newly-minted team for a reported salary of US $100,000. KTF has been on a spending binge since it decided to put together its own pro team, easily outspending rivals to stock up on champion-caliber players like Reach(P), TheMarine(T), Chojja(Z), Sync(T) and, of course, the aforementioned Nal_rA(P). KTF's Daddy Warbucks tactics drew some heavy fire from hardcore fans of the game (and from opposing teams), many accusing it of trying to create a pro gaming version of Real Madrid.
Well, every Real Madrid deserves a Manchester United, and if anyone can outspend KTF, it's SKT (SKT took in revenues of US $8.2 billion in 2003 alone - some serious resource gathering macro!). Let the money war begin!
What's really interesting is that many in Korea see all this corporate sponsorship activity as an extension of the fierce business competition SKT and KTF have been engaged in for a share of Korea's enormous mobile telecom market. Some analysts predict it's only a matter of time before the third mega-member of the mobile telecom triumvirate in Korea, LG Telecom, joins the pro gaming sponsorship fray.
No big surprise now if that happens. I thought something was up when I found out OGN's next Starleague sponsor is going to be Gillette (see the Game Notes from my report on the Nal_rA vs Zeus OSL final for details). It's indicative of how mainstream SC/BW is in Korea that a company like Gillette, which has virtually nothing to do with the gaming industry, is still willing to throw over US $400,000 at sponsoring a gaming tournament.
Watch out Tiger Woods! SlayerS_BoxeR cometh!!
EDIT: The financial details have apparently been released. Boxer's one sexy, rich beast! Check it out here.
(Check out the original news source at Sports Chosun)
Members of the new royal family of professional gaming, Team 4U. From the left, iloveoov(T) (Choi Yeon-sung), Kos(T) (Kim Hyun-jin), SlayerS_BoxeR(T) (Im Yo-hwan), IntoTheRainbow(P) (Kim Sung-jae), ZergLee(Z) (Lee Chang-hoon), Kingdom(P) (Bak Yong-wook)