(Yonhap Feature) Hope for military esports team rising, but will it succeed?

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) — After leading his esports team Damwon Kia to a runner-up finish at the 2021 League of Legends (LOL) World Championship last month, Kim Dong-ha, better known by his gaming name “Khan,” confirmed his professional gaming career is over.

A six-time winner of the LOL Champions Korea (LCK), the top LOL competition in South Korea, Kim has established himself as a top star in the competitive multiplayer online battle arena game, but it was time for him to hang up his mouse and keyboard.

“Military service is the biggest reason that I decided to retire,” Kim told Yonhap News Agency. “If there was no military issue, I would still be playing.”

(Yonhap Feature) Hope for military esports team rising, but will it succeed?

All able-bodied South Korean men aged between 18 and 28 are required to serve in the military for about two years, and Kim, who turns 26 on Dec. 22, is no exception. He is required to enlist in the military by June 2022.

“I have already postponed my enlistment five times, and there is no way to postpone it again,” he said. “I would definitely think about joining the military team if there is one.”

But esports players like Kim recently saw a silver lining after local politicians, including the ruling Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung, called for the creation of a military esports team under the Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps, commonly known as Sangmu.

Sangmu is home to soldier athletes, helping them maintaining their skills while fulfilling their national duty. It currently runs teams in 25 sports, including football, archery, swimming and cycling.

“Let’s make an esports team at Sangmu, so we can provide opportunities for esports players to participate in international competitions and foster their skills while showing that going to the military is not a pain,” Lee said during a founding ceremony of a lawmakers’ study group for esports development.

According to survey data from Rep. Jung Chung-rae of the DP, 80.4 percent of professional gamers in South Korea supported the establishment of a military esports team, while only 2.8 percent opposed it.

(Yonhap Feature) Hope for military esports team rising, but will it succeed?

Those who support the creation of a military team say it will help the country’s world-class esports players continue their careers without interruption and will bring a positive impact to the gaming industry of South Korea, still recognized as the mecca of esports.

“For professional gamers, going to the military means retirement,” said Josh Ahn, interim chief operating officer of T1, a South Korean esports organization. “It’s a pity that South Korean esports players that boast the best talents in the world are retiring earlier than their competitors in foreign countries.”

But others worry of deja vu, saying having a military team does not necessarily push back esports players’ retirement, as witnessed with the Air Force ACE, the world’s first military esports team run by the South Korean Air Force from 2007-14 with conscripted professional gamers of Starcraft, a popular online strategy game developed by Blizzard Entertainment.

More than 30 professional Starcraft players did their service at the Air Force ACE, but most of them chose to retire after completing their military duty rather than resume their playing career.

(Yonhap Feature) Hope for military esports team rising, but will it succeed?

“Back then, the team recruited famous players who were already past their prime, and that’s why many of them retired after finishing their service,” said Son Suk-hee, a former professional Starcraft player better known by his gaming name “Stardust.” He is one of the few players who continued playing after completing his service at the Air Force ACE.

“If the Sangmu team is about publicity and improvement of the military’s image, I think it will be better to bring in players who are determined to resume their playing careers even after discharge,” he added.

Instead of making a military esports team, others propose the country should allow esports players to postpone their enlistment until age 30, so they can carry out their military service after finishing their gaming career since most esports players retire in their mid-20s.

But supporters of the Sangmu esports team refute that idea, saying it will actually limit the players’ future plans and development of the gaming industry.

“There are problems you face in the military when you enlist late,” said Lee Doe-kyeong, a legislative aide to Rep. Lee Sang-heon of the DP. He has designed various esports-related laws, including punishment on gaming account boosting, with lawmakers.

“They will also return to society late, and that will put more pressure on their future career after discharge,” he added.

(Yonhap Feature) Hope for military esports team rising, but will it succeed?

Industry watchers said even if a new military esports team is created, its performance is likely to be poor, as the Air Force ACE’s was, because players will feel stress and face lack of practice time due to disciplined barrack life.

“It is a mental sport, and managing your stress is more important than managing your stamina,” said Cha Jae-uk, former Air Force ACE player. “Some gamers may not adjust well to the military environment, which lacks freedom compared to the outside world.”

The Air Force ACE recorded 18 consecutive losses in a single season, the worst in the local pro Starcraft league history, and most of their players registered a winning rate below 50 percent.

“Boosting their motivation would be a challenge,” said Lee Sung-eun, former Air Force ACE player better known by his gaming name “firebathero.” “Esports players now make millions of dollars, and they have to give up that fortune when they join the military. Their prize money earned during the service will also go directly to the military, so it is not going to be easy.”

(Yonhap Feature) Hope for military esports team rising, but will it succeed?

And there are administrative hurdles that make the military esports team issue more complicated.

In the case of LOL, arguably the most played online game on the planet, the LCK has adopted a franchise system, and teams that want to join its league have to pay an admission fee that is reportedly over 10 billion won (US$8.4 million).

“Will the military allow paying that money?” said Lee Il-woo, chief strategy officer at Bigpicture Interactive, a local esports firm. “We should also think about which game should be selected for the Sangmu team, because these days, there are so many professional players in various games.”

Despite skepticism and challenges, some market watchers said the Sangmu esports team can deliver a great opportunity for the local gaming industry beyond producing world-class players.

“Most games played professionally today are made by foreign developers, but imagine if the Sangmu team includes a homegrown online game,” said Jeong Yeon-chul, a Honam University professor who teaches about the esports industry. “The team should also think about opening its doors to amateur players, because that will help expand the country’s gaming industry.”

kdon@yna.co.kr
(END)

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Microsoft's Activision move proves the competition is no longer Sony, it's something much bigger

Microsoft’s proposed takeover of Activision Blizzard is currently the black hole that is, if not all-consuming, at least altering the reality of other news in the gaming space. The event ... Read more »

Google Pixel 6 vs OnePlus 9: which affordable flagship is the bigger bargain?

The Google Pixel 6 turned up fashionably late to the 2021 smartphone party, but it certainly made an instant impact with its eye-catching design, custom hardware, and crisp software. It ... Read more »

Robot bartender serves Olympic cocktails in Beijing

Weary media workers covering the Winter Games can order a drink from the robot and throw one back in the Bar Area off the main dining hall, part of the ... Read more »

How to use a mouse on your iPad

Apple’s iPad has long taken pride in being many things to many people. It’s a cinema screen, an ereader, and a work device, with plenty more utility depending on which ... Read more »

Motorola Edge 30 release date window, price, news and leaks

We’ve been hearing rumors about the Motorola Edge 30, the hotly anticipated next entry in Moto’s line of flagship Android phones, for some time now. Leaks about an Ultra version, ... Read more »

Why I'll be buying the Canon EOS C70 over the new Canon EOS R5 C

This week Canon launched what looks like the perfect camera for videographers who need a run-and-gun filmmaking tool: the Canon EOS R5 C. Unlike its close sibling, the Canon EOS ... Read more »

I made mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot, and it was far easier than usual

There’s nothing more comforting than a big scoop of creamy mashed potato. It’s the unsung hero of side dishes, smooth, creamy, and the perfect accompaniment to so many meals. Whether ... Read more »

FTC, maritime ministry conflict over freight rate collusion issue intensifies

An HMM container ship / Courtesy of HMM By Kim Hyun-bin Conflict between the country’s antitrust regulator and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries is intensifying, as the Fair Trade ... Read more »

Restructuring steelmakers consider upping dividends to ease shareholder concerns

POSCO CEO Choi Jeong-woo By Lee Kyung-min Korea’s steel giants are increasingly embracing shareholder-friendly dividend policies, in a collective move to appease investor concerns over corporate restructuring plans, whereby the ... Read more »

[Behind the Wheel] SsangYong's New Rexton Sports Khan proves pickups can go smart, too

SsangYong’s New Rexton Sports Khan (SsangYong)For SsangYong, Rexton is not simply a flagship SUV model that has significantly pulled up its sales among its complete lineup of SUVs ranging from ... Read more »

Hyundai sweeps Best Cars for the Money awards in US

Santa Fe (Hyundai Motor)Hyundai Motor said Sunday it has won five US News and World Report 2022 Best Cars for the Money Awards, outpacing rivals in the awards that put ... Read more »

Fire at EcoProBM factory concerns Samsung SDI, SK on

EcoProBM’s factory in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, is on fire, Friday. Courtesy of National Fire Agency By Park Jae-hyuk Samsung SDI and SK on are facing growing concerns over the ... Read more »

[Battery+] Samsung SDI losing competitive edge over rivals

Rivian’s R1T pickup truck powered by Samsung SDI batteries (Rivian) Samsung SDI is drawing market concerns as the South Korean battery firm seems to be falling behind the changing trends ... Read more »

9 out of 10 Korean firms ‘not ready' for supply chain risks

(123rf) Almost 90 percent of South Korean companies are unprepared for supply chain risks even though they are aware that those risks will continue this year. According to a survey ... Read more »

Samsung Electronics about to reach wage agreement

The flag of Samsung hangs in front of a building in the Samsung Town office park in Seocho District, Seoul, in this 2020 file photo. Korea Times photo by Bae ... Read more »

Exports of red pepper paste surge 63% over 4 years on K-pop popularity

gettyimagesbank Exports of red pepper paste soared nearly 63 percent over the past four years thanks to the global popularity of Korean pop culture, data showed Sunday.Overseas shipments of the ... Read more »

Coming soon: police body cams with facial recognition

Dany Tirza, 63, a former Israeli army colonel, stands next to a dummy as he speaks to AFP at his office in the Jewish settlement of Kfar Adumim, in the ... Read more »

2021 was the 2nd hottest year on record: KMA

Last year was the second hottest year for South Korea on record as climate change continued to drive up global temperatures, the national weather agency said Sunday. A report from ... Read more »

Hyundai wins 5 awards in US News & World Report 2022

Hyundai’s Tucson Hybrid / Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group By Kim Hyun-bin Hyundai has won U.S. News and World Report 2022 Best Cars for the Money Awards in five categories, ... Read more »

Air traffic up 11% last year but still below pre-pandemic level: data

Planes of South Korea’s top flag carrier Korean Air Lines Co. and No. 2 carrier Asiana Airlines Inc. are parked at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Dec. 1, ... Read more »

Your mobile number is already registered on WhatsApp? Why you should not worry

WhatsApp has more than 2 billion users worldwide. Despite criticism and safety concerns, the Meta-owned messaging platform continues to be the preferred choice among users. It is also one of ... Read more »

Netaji 3D Hologram statue at India Gate: What is 3D Hologram and how you make one using any smartphone

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that a grand statue of iconic freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be installed at India Gate. It will be a ... Read more »

Air traffic up 11 pct last year but still below pre-pandemic level: data

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s air traffic rose nearly 11 percent last year on increased domestic flights but international travel continued to falter amid the pandemic, data showed ... Read more »

UFC 270 live stream: how to watch Ngannou vs Gane online

Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a heavyweight Octagon match-up to really get the MMA juices flowing. And tonight’s Francis Ngannou vs Ciryl Gane main event is looking like an ... Read more »

Video games that diagnose, monitor and treat depression developed by scientists

Software analyses the patient's voice, eye gaze and micro-expressions along behavioural measures including reaction times, memory and error rates. Read more »

Barty vs Anisimova live stream: how to watch Australian Open tennis 2022 online

Ashleigh Barty and Amanda Anisimova have faced off only once before, but it was an unforgettable occasion for both players. The 20-year-old American has already pulled off one of the ... Read more »

Exports in free trade zones hit all-time high last year: data

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) — Exports by companies in South Korea’s free trade zones grew 89.6 percent on-year to hit an all-time high last year, the industry ministry said Sunday. ... Read more »

Elizabeth Hurley is unbelievably gorgeous as she poses in red bikini

Elizabeth Hurley always stuns her fans with her phenomenal physique, and she did it once again on Saturday in a showstopping snap. WOW: Elizabeth Hurley highlights radiant beauty in sensational ... Read more »

Covid 19 Omicron: Sore throat most common symptom that could be warning you're infected

One Covid symptom could be warning you that you’re infected with the virus before a positive rapid antigen test. As Omicron surges around the world, experts are warning of the ... Read more »

Some Predictions for How the Metaverse Will Impact Our Lives

The change of Facebook’s name to Meta came as a bit of a shock to the world. However, the keynote given by Mark Zuckerberg demonstrates that Facebook is expanding beyond ... Read more »

Hong Kong's Sandbox VR was nearly killed by Covid, but it now has global ambitions amid surging demand

Hong Kong-Based virtual reality start-up Sandbox VR plans to expand to 40 locations around the globe, more than tripling the 12 shops it already has, in a rebound after Covid-19 ... Read more »

Companies fear new industrial accident law

By Lee Kyung-min Shipbuilding, construction, machinery and parts manufacturing companies are deeply concerned about a new law set to take effect next week that will hold the heads of big ... Read more »

Mum, 26, died after flying to Turkey for gastric bypass surgery

Khelisyah Ashamu was aged 26 when she died. (SWNS) A mother-of-one died due to complications from gastric bypass surgery in Turkey, a coroner has ruled. Khelisyah Ashamu, an IT professional ... Read more »

Amanda Holden stuns fans with behind-the-scenes look at glam makeover

We're majorly excited that the latest series of Britain's Got Talent is filming, and we're also loving all of Amanda Holden's showstopping looks. SEE: Amanda Holden stuns fans with beautiful ... Read more »

Holly Willoughby stuns in white dress in never-before-seen photo with birthday girl Emma Bunton

Holly Willoughby stunned her fans on Saturday when she shared a gorgeous photo of herself and close friend Emma Bunton. MORE: Victoria Beckham stuns fans in mini-dress as she marks ... Read more »

Hunt for mystery man who rings doorbell at night and then walks away

Police have released CCTV footage of the unidentified doorbell ringer. (SWNS) Police are searching for a man who's been repeatedly ringing a doorbell on Thursdays. Officers have released CCTV footage ... Read more »

China must brace for ‘digital cold war' with US as battle for tech supremacy heats up

China needs to brace for a “digital cold war” with the United States as the two nations go head-to-head for dominance of the internet economy. The warning from a top ... Read more »

Shop huge furniture deals at Amazon, Macy's, QVC and West Elm ahead of Presidents' Day 2022

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. If you’re been itching to refresh your home or add a ... Read more »

Daily Covid infections in UK less than half recorded two weeks ago

Photograph: Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images The UK detected 76,807 new Covid infections in the past 24 hours, a 54% drop on the 176,191 cases detected two weeks ago as the record-breaking ... Read more »

Lab monkey missing after US highway crash, people warned not to approach

Residents of a Pennsylvania county have been warned not to approach a monkey missing after a crash involving a pickup that was towing a trailer taking about 100 of the ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic