The World Cyber Games (WCG) announced Wednesday that the tournament will feature Warcraft III as one of the disciplines in WCG 2019. Blizzard’s RTS was first elected as a WCG discipline in 2003 and remained a mainstay in the itinerary up until the tournament’s discontinuation in 2013.
The announcement marks Warcraft III’s return to a major international podium after spending years in partial hibernation, only active in China and, partially, South Korea.
WCG’s 2018 revival into nothing
WCG was the first major esports circuit in the early days of the industry. Established in 2001, the brand rand for 13 years, organized by Samsung, and visited numerous countries: from South Korea, to USA, Singapore, Italy, Germany, and China. In 2013, however, having lost most of its relevance and featuring absurd “esports” titles such as QQ Speed, Lost Saga and Guitar Hero, WCG was discontinued. The closest thing esports had to an Olympic event was lost, unable to catch-up to the growing and improving industry.
Several attempts were since made to bring back WCG, or at least its spirit. In 2016, Chinese e-commerce giant launched WESG — a national esports competition to be the spiritual successor of WCG. What WESG mostly adopted, however, was out-of-date formats and unbalanced competition, often sparking community backlash.
As a brand, though, WCG remained unclaimed and in 2017, Invictus Gaming owner Wang Sicong made moves to acquire it, but negotiations failed. In the end, Samsung handed the rights to Smilegate, developers of South Korean CS:GO clone CrossFire.
“The newly launched WCG will not only be limited to esports, but also act as a festival where all participants, including spectators, share the joy of playing games together,” Naver reported at the time. “In order to become a global digital entertainment culture platform, WCG will actively collaborate with leading global gaming companies.”
This cooled off fans’ expectations. WCG would return, yes, but more as an exhibition than an esports tournament. The official announcement for WCG 2018 confirmed this.
For better or worse, WCG 2018 never went to Thailand. It never happened, actually. Pushed by industry insiders to rethink their structure, WCG scrapped the 2018 event and vowed to reschedule it.
- Read more: Warcraft III: Reforged coming in 2019
“In December last year, WCG Inc. told at the press conference that it would reopen the competition first as invitation-only matches and then hold regional qualifications from the second edition. But requests for immediate introduction of regional rounds poured in from industry officials and esports fans with high expectations on the resumption of the games. Especially, there were requests to open the competition for non-professional gamers too.”
Azeroth, present day
In September 2018, WCG announced the updated schedule for WCG 2019. The tournament would return to China, in Xi’an, Jul. 18-21. Dota 2 was later announced as the first title and today Warcraft III joined it too.
Although it would’ve likely preferred a more esteemed podium for its return, this is a good day for Warcraft III. Apart from FIFA and StarCraft, the Warcraft franchise is the only one that’s been with WCG since its indoctrination and never skipped a year.
Warcraft III itself never truly died, even with the oncoming of the new age of esports. While most western players transferred to StarCraft 2, or left esports altogether, Warcraft III kept its hardcore community, much like Brood War did in the shadow of its jacked, better-looking cousin. Chased away by the English-speaking community, Warcraft III found solace in the one place that’s always welcomed it: China.
In the lands of the Middle Kingdoms, Warcraft III began its modern day renaissance. Teams like Newbee, WE and Rogue Warriors signed absolute legends of the game, including Lyn, LawLiet, Infi, Fly100%, TH000 and Sky. With Warcraft III: Reforged set to release some time in 2019, China was getting ready to dominate Azeroth, as it once did.
With its heart beating in the East, the blood of Warcraft III spread to the West, too. Community websites, like Warcraft3.info and Back2Warcraft, launched their own solo and team leagues. Warcraft III’s community is dead-set on keeping their old love alive.
Although it will be a Sisyphean task for WCG to return to its former glory, to see it extend arms to Warcraft III is an important nod: to the game, to its fans, and to the old esports days, where everything was different and yet, strangely, the same.