The StarCraft II scene is reeling from the drastic reductions in the 2023/24 prize pool, with around $1 million lost across the EPT and GSL. While that amount can’t be made up with crowdfunding, the community has still rallied to help out progamers however they can. Several crowdfunded events popped up in the wake of the news, and it seems as if these community-driven events will continue to be important throughout the 2023/24 season.
Here are three key crowdfunded events to look out for during the pre-season before the EPT and GSL start back up in earnest.
Note: TL.net does not directly endorse the crowdfunding of these events. Users may seek crowdfunding information and support these events at their own discretion.
Starting from an initial $1000 contribution from PiG, the community has now raised $10,000 in prize money for PiGFest 3 (a hefty $5k contribution from Crate Entertainment sent it over the top).
The donors seem like they’ll be getting their money’s worth, as the player line-up for PiGFest is absolutely stacked. It features almost the entire top 12 from IEM Katowice, including World Champion Oliveira.
Schedule: March 15 – 19 – [08:00 GMT (+00:00) start]
- March 15: Maru vs SKillous, Solar vs Oliveira, Winner vs Winner (RO8)
- March 16: ByuN vs ShoWTimE, Reynor vs Cure, Winner vs Winner (RO8)
- March 17: Serral vs Creator, Dark vs Clem, Winner vs Winner (RO8)
- March 18: herO vs GuMiho, MaxPax vs RagnaroK, Winner vs Winner (RO8)
- March 19: RO4 and Grand Finals
Prize pool: $10,000 total prize pool. First place wins $3,500.
The WardiTV Korean Royale focuses specifically on supporting the Korean region, which was hit hardest by the budget cuts in the 2023/24 season. The tournament has the same living-in-Korea requirement as the GSL, and not surprisingly, many of the familiar faces from Code S have qualified.
Technically, this edition of the Korean Royal isn’t really crowdfunded. The first season is something of a proof-of-concept, with WardiTV putting up the $10,000 in prize money. At the same time, crowdfunding toward future seasons is already open, and the community will decide whether or not this specific tournament series lasts.
Format (groups to be announced later)
- Group stage: The players are split into two groups of eight. Each group plays out a full round-robin. The top five players from each group advance to the playoffs.
- Playoffs: Ten players are seeded into two ‘gauntlet’-style brackets depending on their group stage results. The surviving players from each gauntlet bracket face off in the grand finals.
Schedule: March 21 – April 9
- March 21, 22, 25: Group stage matches [12:00 GMT (+00:00)]
- March 26, April 1, 2, 4: Group stage matches [11:00 GMT (+00:00)]
- April 8-9: Playoffs [11:00 GMT (+00:00)]
Prize pool: $10,000 total prize pool. First place wins $2,500.
The final crowd-funded tournament of note is very different from the others: it’s a weekly cup.
The Korean StarCraft League (KSL) is effectively a second ESL Open Korean cup held every week, only it takes place on Thursday (Friday in Korea) and doesn’t award EPT points. The baseline prize money is equal to the ESL Open Cups at $400 per cup, but is potentially even greater depending on crowdfunding. For instance, week #1’s total prize money was $632.
Interestingly enough, the first KSL drew a stronger group of players than the ESL Open Cup during the same week, and concluded in a thrilling Maru vs ByuN finals. It remains to be seen if the strength of competition will hold up in the coming weeks, but it was an encouraging start to the series.
Format: Weekly, single-elimination cup.
Schedule: Every Thursday (Friday in Korea) at 15:00 GMT (+00:00)
Prize pool: Variable, but currently crowdfunded to at least $400 per cup. Cups 1 & 2 were funded into the $600 range.
Streaming: Twitch.tv/davetestasc & Twitch.tv/chickenmansc, various community casters