Match fixing, suspensions and rule changes. Sound familiar?
Most sports fans are use to the preseason madness of big announcements and player controversies, most of which are usually forgotten once the first whistle blows. It seems Esports and OGN’s 3rd Apex season will be following suit. With an emerging match fixing scandal, players being ‘forced’ to step down because of fan outrage and the chance that esports is set to be a medal event at the 2022 Asia Games, this season is going to be anything but dull. And the icing on the cake, 3 more Overwatch maps will be coming this year, oh happy day!
Match fixing was always going to be a problem
It is hard to avoid match fixing when competition and money is involved and sports has always been an easy target for those less reputable people. That’s not even taking into consideration the amount of bribery and corruption revolving around mainstream sporting organisations (FIFA and IOC I’m looking at you) Add these factors in with a country like Korea who already suffers from a culture stepped in heavy corruption and less than ethical business practice, it would seem that match fixing is an unavoidable problem for esports. However this is one area that the Korean government has gone out of its way to really clamp down on and attempt to root out the problem. A law was recently put in place to punish those caught making programs aimed at cheating in video games. This law and the heavy sentences placed on those caught in the recent match fixing scandal are welcomed and applauded by fans. The coach and manager of Luminous Solar have been slapped with criminal charges for fixing the wildcard qualifier match for OGN Apex Challengers Season 3 while others involved have all been given life time bans. While cheating is still a major problem in South Korea with thousands of players recently being banned from Overwatch at the start of the year, it is good to see heavy penalties handed down to those who are hurting the game even at lower levels of the spectrum.
Angry Korean fans have zero chill
While there is nothing wrong with smack talk and some friendly opposition sledging, there is a line you don’t cross. When you cross that line in Korea, not only should you expect the backlash but Korean fans will throw everything at you including the kitchen sink. Lunatic-Hai’s fan base is no different and is steadily growing to become more akin to its K-pop counterparts when it comes to what they expect from their favourite players. The result of all this has seen both new players Byeon “Munchkin” Sang-Beom and flex Lee “claris” Keon-Ho stepping down (or being let go, which ever way you want to interpret it) amongst increased fan pressure which is a worrying sign for esports in Korea. Munchkin, in short, was using an alias account to be an ass/troll online, while Claris is facing multiple rumours that are yet to be proven true. Teams in Korea are increasingly needing to pander to their fan bases to pick players that appeal (or appease) to the fans rather than selecting on performance and what is best to make the strongest team possible. Selection of players based on conduct and image should only play part of the decision rather than the be all and end all of it (in most cases of course) and is a worrying trend that this idea is creeping into esports in Korea
Gold medal event
Some more happy news going forward is the newly announced partnership between Alisports and the OCA to bring esports to the 2022 Asian games as a medal event! This is a huge move that could bring esports to a more global audience and open up many more opportunities for not just players but everyone in and around esports as well. This is an exciting time for gamers and fans alike. Paving the way will be a series of exhibition esports events, the first at the upcoming Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to be held later this year. FIFA 2017 is the only game confirmed to appear at AIMAG, but the event will also include a Moba and an RTS game.
Apex Season 3 is days away and we are all excited to see the top teams in Korea as well as the 2 heavy hitting foreign teams go head to head once again. Go Runaway!
Marcus Powell has been living and working in South Korea since 2010. Aside from writing for Gangnam Gamers, he is also a popular club DJ, English Teacher, gamer, sports and esports fan and anime enthusiast.