What is the TeSL?
The Taiwan eSports League was established 3 years ago and is currently moving Into its 4th season. TeSL was the second major professional StarCraft II league in the world, and the first to have live StarCraft II games on national TV (televised exhibition matches started in October 2010). The league was established when several video game companies in Taiwan (mainly Wayi and Gamania) got together and decided to form teams and play televised games of 2 Korean games (Which happened to be licensed in Taiwan through I believe Wayi and Gamania) Special Forces and Kart Rider (a cartoony Mario Kart-like without the power ups kind of racing game).
。The TeSL's official homepage (No, there is no english version, more on that later)
。Pictures of the signing ceremony where Blizzard and TeSL announce that they will be official partners to create StarCraft II league
。Here are pictures from this years Taiwan eSports Open (The finals for Special Forces and Kart Racer between the Gama Bears and Hwayi spider. Yes, the finals for the two different games are held together and their is only one champion. But StarCraft II will not be combined with the other games like that)
What teams are there and what are their relationship with the League?
The teams have changed slightly in the 4 season of TeSL, but the mainstay has been Wayi Spider and the Gama Bears. Currently there are 5 professional StarCraft II teams in the TeSL, other than Gama and Wayi there are the Xpec Ironmen, the Taoyuan Jets and the TT Apollos. Compared with the pro teams in Korea and the GSL, the teams in the TeSL are more of an integral part of the league, it’s not like they can just play or not play anytime they want. Any other team wanting to participate in the league would have to officially join TeSL, kind of like the teams of the NBA or NFL, they can’t just play or not play whenever they want.
。Facebook pages of the Gama Bears, Wayi Spider, Xpec Ironmen, Taoyuan Jets and Tt Apollos
How were the players selected?
After announcing in November that TeSL would be partnering with Blizzard to form a StarCraft II league tryouts were held once a week over 9 weeks rotating between locations in northern, central and southern Taiwan. Tryouts consisted of a best of 64 tournaments in Which players were awarded points according to how far they got. At the End of the 9 week tryout period players with the highest amount of points were invited to attend One last tournament where representatives from all the teams came to watch the players in action and interact with them. After the tournament the 5 teams went Into a secret meeting room to hold a draft. First each team gave a “wish list” of 5 players that they wanted. Each team’s wish list was written on a white board, and if a team had a player that no other team included in their list, that team automatically got that player. Then the teams took turns according to the order picking players that several teams had included in their list. Most teams drafted 4 players while some teams Only drafted 3. Not every player that was drafted was eventually signed. A couple of the teams decided to sign other players that were not drafted that day.
。Here are pictures from draft day. You can see the wishlists written on the whiteboard, and the players taking pictures with their uniforms after being chosen.
What kind of tournament system does the TeSL use?
In the past SF (Special Forces) and Kart Rider (KR) are in a different category and tournament than StarCraft II. In both regular season and playoffs/finals SF and KR are part of the same tournament, 2 teams play both of the games to decide the winner. But SCII is separate from all that. The league is very team based, as opposed to the GSL where regular season matches are individual based. Regular season games started last week on March 12th. Every Saturday and Sunday night two teams play against each other on Live TV. The matches are best of 5 (First to win 3). The order of the First 3 players are chosen before the match starts. It’s not KOF though, the First two players play each other, than the second two players, etc. If after 3 games a winner has not been decided, the coaches from either side pick the player that they want to play in the next game. Regular season games will be played for 4 or 5 months (this season will dnd in early August) after which the teams with the best records will duke it out in the finals (I forgot if there will be playoffs, I’ll Check and get back to everyone on that).
So far there has been 4 matches:
。3/12 Xpec Ironmen defeat Taoyuan Jets 3-1
。3/13 Tt Apollos defeat Gama Bears 3-2
。3/19 Taoyuan Jets defeat Wayi Spider 3-2
。3/20 Xpec Ironmen defeat Gama Bears 3-2
What kind of training and lifestyle do the players have?
Most players all Live in the team house with the SF and KR players (But usually practice on a different floor). There are some players that cannot Live in the team house because of obligations with school or family but they are an exception to the rule (and are basically only allowed to do so because they are a two of the best players in the league). All players have a stable salary for being on the team and sign contracts for one year. To my knowledge the basic salary is around $700 to $1,000 per month (not a fortune, but they Live for free in the team house and food is cheaper in Taiwan). Star players are payed more though, and can get personal sponsorships by companies. The lifestyle at the team houses is very similar to that of Korean houses; players eat, sleep and breathe SCII. I don't have an Artosis-like video of all the team houses but I'll try to get something like that soon!
Who are some of the players?
Terran player Softball is considered the top player in the league, he was the No.1 draft pick by TT Apollo. A lot of people have probably seen Sen playing with Softball’s account, that’s because they are friends and Sen borrows his US account to practice on the US server or play in tournaments. SoftBall actually went with Sen to GSL 3 but lost in the last round of the preliminaries. He also went to Blizzcon 2010 to play in the invitational. Tt Apollo is considered the “Imba team” because other than Softball they got the top ex-WarCraft III player HRU (How Are You) widely considered as the next best player after Softball (they got him because no other team put him on their wish list because he cannot Live in the team house). Most of the players from the league come from the two largest clans in Taiwan “Rush” and “StorM”. The relationship between the current professional teams and the player’s ties to their clans is kind of interesting. For example Softball is a member of the Rush clan but his teammate HRU is a member of StorM, although their relationship is still strong with these clans, they must put their allegiance to their pro-teams ahead of this and work together to win every weekend.
。Here is a picture of all of the players in the league (From left to right: Taoyuan Jets, Wayi Spider, Gama Bears, Tt Apollos and Xpec Ironmen)
。Introduction of the Gama Bears players
。Introduction of the Wayi Spider players
。Introduction of the Xpec Ironmen players
。Introduction of the Taoyuan JetsTaoyuan Jets players
。Introduction of the Tt Apollo players
How are the matches broadcasted?
TeSL cooperates with the Videoland Television Network which is the same network that broadcasts professional baseball and other big sporting events in Taiwan. Matches are held in a recording studio without a live audience. But in the future there are rumored that they will build a eSports stadium where a live audience can view the recording. The players are in a different room than the casters, so they don't need to be in soundproof rooms. The three players that will play in any match are decided before hand and sit in front of a row of computers at the two sides of the room. For anyone in Taiwan the broadcasts are shown live on channel 71 at around 9:30pm (depends on when SF and KR get done) every Saturday and Sunday night. The younger caster on the left is "SoBad", a legend among the Taiwan StarCraft community, known as being quite the ladies man. Currently Sen is called Taiwan's ZergKing, and SoBad is known as the "former" ZergKing as he was the dominant player winning basically all tournaments until Sen came around. The older caster is called ZhanYuan, and is a baseball analyst. Even though he is not a former StarCraft player he still does a very good job of doing his homework and casting in a way that non-StarCraft fans can enjoy the game.
。Here is a video from youtube that a fan recorded. It is the final game of the best of 5 from the Gama Bears vs. Tt Apollo last Sunday (There are other videos on this channel too) :
。Taiwan StarCraft legend, strong Zerg player, handsome guy, a scholar and gentlemen, the one and only TeSL TV caster Sobad:
Where is Sen?
Taiwan’s best and most famous player Sen as everybody knows is a member of the Fnatic.MSI team. There were rumors that despite this Sen would attend the draft and participate in the TeSL. From what I heard there were conflicts between Fnatic.MSI’s sponsors and the sponsor of the TeSL so it didn’t work out. Currently Sen is in his final year of university, he has stated that after he graduates in June that he might join the league when his contract with Fnatic.MSI is up and make himself available in the next draft. If this is the case every team will Want to land Sen, Who is obviously a dominant player in the Taiwan SCII scene. Currently on the weekends Sen is serving as a coach/consultant for the Xpec Ironmen.
。Sen with the Taoyuan Jets players after their victory on Saturday 3/19:
I Want to play in the TeSL, how do I make that happen?
Currently all players in the league must be Taiwanese citizens but TeSL is planning on allowing non-Taiwanese players to join teams as early as next season (this fall). How many will be allowed per team and exactly how it will work has not yet been determined. I have heard that at First teams might Only allow for One non-Taiwanese player per team. The main concern with this is that in general the level of Taiwan players currently is a little behind that of the international and Korean pro-scene. While since the players have moved Into the team houses they have started improving rapidly there is still probably concern that if top international (mainly Korean) players join that they might dominate and hurt the development of the league (Taiwanese fans will not want to see Taiwan players getting beat up every Weekend by foreign players). The key of course is that the overall level of Taiwan players improve, the current goal is to Reach the level of Korea, and while there is still a long way to go, in just a month’s time the players have already got a lot better and will continue to do so. When TeSL decided on how they will open the league to foreign players I will be sure to let everyone know (if they don’t make the announcement themselves). But obviously if you are interested in participating in the TeSL you would have to move to Taiwan for at least a season or a year. While the salary is not going to make you rich, it would be an amazing experience for anyone who loves StarCraft and loves experience new and different cultures. Anyone who has traveled to Taiwan will tell you about how awesome it is, how friendly the people are, and how good the food is. Anyway, I’ll keep everyone posted.
Why is this the first time I’m hearing about this?
Unfortunately at this time the TeSL doesn’t have anyone in charge of international community or marketing. It might be that they are kind of have an inferiority complex sort of thing going on, afraid that when compared with the GSL or other western leagues or tournaments that it will be hard for them to be accepted. No matter the reason, the fact is they have done zero international promotion, havn’t announced the start of the league on any western fansites, havn’t even made an English version of their website. If you want to make suggestions to TeSL, show them that the international community is interested, or ask for english service, please visit there Facebook page!
If anyone has any more questions, please feel free to ask, I’ll try to Answer as many as I can!
***Edit*** Good news everyone! The guys over at Taiwan's biggest StarCraft fansite: TWSL (Taiwan StarCraft League) have opened a forum just TeSL where they're going to put all the TeSL VODs from youtube with an english description: