South Korea's StarCraft ProLeague, the longest-running StarCraft esports league in existence, will close down after 14 seasons, the chairman of the Korean Esports Association said in a statement today.
Jun Byung Hun said the ProLeague was ceasing operations because of the declining numbers of ProLeague teams and players. "The decision to put the past 14 years behind us and discontinue ProLeague was a difficult one," Jun said, "and it deeply saddens me to also bring you the news that KeSPA will be stopping its operations of ProLeague teams."
Jun added that difficulties securing sponsorships and "match fixing issues," added to the league's woes. One year ago, KeSPA banned two top pros for life following reports of match fixing. Two criminal investigations into the charges led to multiple indictments, most recently of 10 persons back in April.
Jun said StarCraft "will continue to be a globally competitive esport," and that KeSPA will "look for ways to support pro gamers who will be competing in the WCS Global Finals this November."
Proleague sanctioned competitions in StarCraft until 2012, switching fully to StarCraft 2 that year. There were seven teams for the final season, which wrapped up in early September with Jin Air Green Wings winning the playoffs to claim a $45,000 first-place payday.
"We hope that StarCraft ProLeague will live on in the memories of its players, fans, and all affiliated parties as an invaluable asset that pioneered the eSports industry," Jun said, "and contributed to establishing competitive gaming as a mainstream culture in Korea. "