What’s the biggest rivalry in esports? There’s TSM and CLG in League of Legends, and Na’Vi vs. Alliance in Dota 2. But only one rivalry has spanned for decades across multiple games: SK Telecom vs. KT Rolster. For nearly two decades, the two South Korean teams have competed across a variety of esports all over the world. Along the way, they’ve produced some of the best players, teams, and moments that esports has ever seen. Many new fans know these teams from their famous battles in League of Legends. But the history is far richer than that. Here are 5 key facts to know about the biggest rivalry in esports: The “Telecom Wars” started in the real world The rivalry between KT and SKT is so intense because it has a history that transcends esports.
It’s called the “Telecom Wars” for a reason. It started in the business world, where KT Corporation had been South Korea’s biggest telecom for a long time. But with the rise of mobile phones came SK Telecom, which grew into the country’s top wireless carrier. The two now compete ruthlessly for customers. Things spilled over into esports when the telecom giants started sponsoring StarCraft: Brood War teams in the early 2000s. And it’s dominated esports ever since—a span of nearly two decades. The origin of Rolster While SKT’s team name is straightforward, KT’s is pretty unique. And it’s ended up perfectly representing how the rivalry has gone for them. KT started in esports by founding a Starcraft team named in 2001. That team’s name was changed in 2009 when fans voted to switch to “Rolster,” an amalgamation of two English words: roller coaster. The name has proven incredibly prescient: nobody in esports has seen highs or lows like KT. From the high of the Flash era in Starcraft to the perennial disappointment of KT’s League of Legends teams, it’s been a true roller coaster ride. KT’s ride started in 2002 when they signed a slew of StarCraft legends, sparing no expense to create a super team.
Even today, KT prefers all-star rosters. Just look at the League of Legends super team it built to compete with SKT. SKT, on the other hand, loves to build around a singular talent. Their first star was BoxeR, the innovative Terran player known within the Starcraft community as simply “The Emperor.” BoxeR made the KT-SKT rivalry personal via his epic clashes with KT’s YellOw. BoxeR finished his career slightly ahead with a 33-30 record against YellOw, who was known as the king of second place. Falling just short has been another defining characteristic of KT esports. After years of discouragement, KT had to adopt SKT’s one-star formula to finally beat their rivals. In 2007, Flash was an unknown Terran player when he was traded to KT at just 14 years old. But by 15, he had won the OSL, Brood War’s most prestigious individual tournament. Finally, KT had its golden boy.
Rocket really wants another kick of the shield. I don’t think that’s gonna keep you alive for very… – Santa Monica. I’ve been on that freeway. – This is California? (commentators shouting) – This is a game that kids watch now? (crowd cheering and chanting) – I like the visuals. – Looks pretty cool. It seems like an event, a sporting event, but not sports. (movie reel clicks) – (FBE) So any idea what we had you watching there? – No, I thought at first it looked like a baseball game. – It sure looked like a new artist that’s on the rise. – Advertisement of the tournament? – Looked kinda like the preview to guys going to a gaming contest. – (FBE) Well, this was actually a promo for competitive video gaming, also known as eSports. – Oh, okay. – (FBE) So had you ever heard of this before? – No. I don’t do anything with sports. – I heard of it, and I seen the clips of it on a documentary. – (FBE) Now we’re actually gonna show you some footage from one of these eSports tournaments. –
Okay. – (commentator) In the midlane, [inaudible] not gonna be able to… – You need some good eyeglasses to see what’s going on. – I can’t tell what’s going on, really. It’s kinda confusing. – There’s announcing as you’re playing the game. – It’s like watching a football game. – (commentator) …the G2 hero! – Everyone seems very happy. That must be the winner there. (cheers and applause) – Yeah. They got a trophy. How cute. Take that sucker to the pawn shop and get some money. – (FBE) eSports has actually been around since the ’70s and ’80s. – You’re kidding. – I don’t know anyone who has ever mentioned that. – (FBE) So were you aware that these tournaments existed back then? – No. – Not that long ago, no. – No, not really. – No, I had no idea.
I can see it recently. It would make perfect sense now that we’re so locked into our devices. – Yes, ’cause I have children and grandchildren who went through that. We played the original Atari games. – (FBE) Well, more recently, eSports has become a huge deal. And there are major tournaments for types of games, ranging from racing games to strategy games. So now we’re gonna run down a list of some of the biggest eSports games to see if you’ve heard of some of them. – Oh boy. (chuckling) – (FBE) League of Legends. – League of Legends, I’ve heard of that, but I can’t tell you anything about it. – Yeah, I heard of that one. Was this on there? (chuckling) – Never heard of it. – Haven’t heard of it. – No. Could be about the older, like for example, the Gladiator. – (FBE) So what about Counter-Strike: Global Offensive? – Never heard of it. – That sounds like some apocalypse, but I haven’t. – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Obviously we’re doing the dress rehearsal today for Overwatch World Cup. For the first couple of matches we’re going to be doing a lot of testing of match pausing and resuming as we try and troubleshoot specific cases that we think we’re going to run into during World Cup. Alright, a lot to do today. Let’s make a great game. We love these esports community and I think that this is kind of the first time that I feel like we really have had a chance to give to the community the kind of esports experience that we wanted to give. Esports is where some of our most passionate and most engaged players are. That community helps us make really informed decisions about changes that we need to make to the game. Whether they’re from a future stand point or from a balance perspective. Esports was always kind of the other side of the coin. There is also a huge community out there that just enjoys watching awesome esports action. We try to view it not just as developers but as spectators. It just builds excitement around the office. You can find even more exitement here: https://uscasinosguide.com/best-casino-bonuses/
It’s fun coming in on Mondays you know, going like “Did you watch all the games during this weekend?” It’s just fun. It’s a fun thing to be part of. I like it, let’s get this on. Our game is fast paced, is… Everything is flashing on the screen, everyone wants your attention. So one of our main tasks this time around was to figure out how to make that better. One of the features that we added was team uniforms. My favorite feature is the team uniform system. The ability to dynamically change the colors within the editor. We took the effects of the game and team colored them, so they match the team uniforms. Everything from the heroes’ skills to the UI and everything in between has been customized per team. As a viewer you are like “In the kill feed I saw D.Va kill 5 people”, I wish I could have seen that. So instant replay really allows us to go back to this moment in time and curate that moment.
And let us look at it from a couple of different angles. Instant replay allows the observers to go back in time and re-watch an event. Observer can load up the instant replay for that and watch it from any different angle the want. They can watch it in slow-mo. We can just load up that moment in an instant replay and show it off again. We would need a solution to be able to watch heroes like Tracer or Genji. One of the ways we did that is by doing the third person smart camera. With the smart camera you can focus on what’s going on in the action. Essentially where the heat of the shot will be. I think the top-down map for observers and for casters is going to be particularly important and is a tool, actually THE tool, that I wanted most as an analyst when I cast the game.