TLDR: Our history, including our successes and shortcomings. Ask us anything about all of it, and anything else you can think of!

In early 2011, the North American Star League set out to do something never thought possible outside of Korea: establish and run a legitimate, professional StarCraft II league showcasing the world’s best players to a North American audience. Lead by the casting team of Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson and Andre “Gretorp” Hengchua, the first season of the North American Star League was a roller-coaster ride, to say the least.

While the initial community reactions to the North American Star League were very positive, the NASL’s inexperience in the field showed. With an understaffed production team, an overworked casting team, Season One broadcasts were sometimes rocky. In spite of difficulties, Season One played itself out, culminating in an exciting final and a Terran champion: Puma, who later signed with team Evil Geniuses.

Season 2 saw many big changes for the North American Star League, initially all coming in the form of personnel and technology additions: additional editors, post production and motion graphics, camera and production equipment, and more. Nevertheless, Season 2 was not without hang-ups, either. iNcontroL stepped away from his casting job, leaving Gretorp to cast mostly solo. Korean players almost unanimously opted out of participating in the league, and administrative and scheduling headaches continued to plague NASL broadcasts. Again, in spite of difficulties, NASL persisted, once more putting together a successful final, and once more crowning EG Puma as champion.

After two seasons, the North American Star League stood at a crossroads, and faced an identity crisis. The NASL had attempted to carve out a niche - a daily broadcast, structured, and professional StarCraft II league. However, with multiple well-funded major organizers also competing in the same space, coupled with the difficulties faced across its first two seasons, and a developing reputation as being the little guy at the StarCraft table, the NASL was faced with a choice: make major changes and attempt to reassert itself as a premiere league, or continue down a path toward obscurity. So, change came.

Season 3 saw major moves by the North American Star League, as it made major additions to its broadcast team and completely redefined its broadcast mission. Showing great games would still be the focus. However, it was time to go live. Understanding that unrolling a true live broadcast would have its own set of hurdles, NASL decided to capitalize on the opportunities of going live by flavoring each broadcast with informative news pieces, entertaining segments, and humorous outtakes. As such, NASL broadcasts embraced entertainment over raw substance.

In addition to this, NASL wanted to give the players more incentive to show up for their live matches every week, and so the league moved to offer money on every match. To better showcase the players’ spectacular personalities, NASL began hosting Sunday ShowDown BarCraft events at a local university pub and filmed segments with the players that showed them in a more fun light (Mining Out, eSports Retirement, etc.)

Of course, it wasn’t just about entertainment. The production team and casters kept pushing themselves and unveiled true live instant replay to capture and revisit the greatest moments of a live game.

With respect to the personnel additions, executive producer Morgan Stone was hired to run the NASL production team, and casters Dan “Frodan” Chou, Kevin “Rotterdam” Van Der Kooi, and Ben “Mr. Bitter” Nichol were also picked up, lightening the heavy load Gretorp had been carrying for the past two seasons. Additional hires were made in graphics and post-production as well, and the resulting season was a testament to the NASL’s new vision: Production, preparation, and polish.

Season 3 ran smoothly, syncing up organically with the Blizzard World Championship Series: Canada Nationals, and the combined NASL/WCS offline final in Toronto, Canada proved to be one of the most exciting events of 2012. Thousands of excited Canadian fans showed up to cheer on their favorite players, as Scarlett was crowned Canada’s champion, and Stephano took home the NASL trophy.

Season 4 saw fewer new hires by the NASL, and a continued tightening focus on creating crisp, entertaining broadcasts. More segments were introduced, and their scope broadened - instructional improvement based tutorials, fitness tips for gamers, and a new, concerted effort to better highlight the players and their individual personalities dominated NASL’s production goals.

Though personnel additions in season 4 were not as numerous as in seasons past, they were perhaps twice as impactful, as NASL brought on personalities Lauren Elise and Joshua “Clutch” Gray to round out the broadcast team, and new league commissioner Ken Silva to strengthen player relations, and further refine NASL’s league structure.

These changes again lead to success, as Season 4 proved to be one of the most competitive seasons in NASL’s short history, once more culminating in a praiseworthy offline final. Minimal down time, exciting games, hilarious segments, and a great emphasis on the players all resulted in a final that the community would celebrate for weeks to follow. While Liquid HerO was crowned champion of the NASL’s 4th season, every participant walked away a winner. As a result, the StarCraft community saw, perhaps for the first time, a glimpse of what we pride ourselves on so much at the North American Star League: personality.

Comments: 1268 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

Axeltoss178 karma

When will Rotterdam start an advice show on courting attractive females?

mrbitter193 karma

Rotti doesn't give dating tips to nerds. Makes his after-hours plans a helluva lot less competitive.

murraya149 karma

What does Ohana mean?

mrbitter152 karma

Ohana means NASL, of course!

robhoward108 karma

[deleted]

mrbitter120 karma

Good sound engineers are hard to find an expensive! Not to mention it's one of the easiest parts of a broadcast to overlook. (I know that sounds terrible, but if you look at other major events around the world, sound is one of the most consistently messed up details)

robhoward14 karma

[deleted]

mrbitter32 karma

We rehearse far more now than we used to, but we still recognize it as something we need to do more of. Our next final, for instance, we are already planning to show up 4 days early so that we have more time to prepare.

RaginReap89 karma

Will we see Dota 2 in NASL 2013? :D

mrbitter120 karma

Definitely something we've discussed. No official plans yet, but a lot of us really enjoy playing DOTA and would love a chance to broadcast it.

lykkekage83 karma

The North American Star League doesnt really have a lot of Americans left in the league.

Do you think thats a problem?

Are you planning on doing something like regional qualifiers to make up for it in Season 5?

Or are you okay with the league consisting of mostly koreans and europeans?

mrbitter79 karma

We are always looking for new, exciting ways to motivate Westerners to take the game seriously (and to provide them with ways to make some money). We will be exploring more options in the future to make sure North Americans (and Europeans) can continue to participate in our league.

murraya75 karma

Due to sitting behind the fancy casting desks, are trousers optional during the show?

mrbitter128 karma

Trousers are optional on set. Required at live events.

Idras_Rage75 karma

how many times combined has the nasl team fapped to lauren elise?

mrbitter156 karma

lol, hard to say. Suffice it to say that Lauren is acutely aware of her own fappability.

BobTheBird58 karma

What new and exciting things can we expect for Season5?

mrbitter75 karma

We want to continue to be leaders in terms of pushing the live broadcast format. Expect more refinement in our shows - more news, more segments, more polish to what we already do, etc.

Also expect a few format changes. There will be a lot of new exciting things happening in 2013 across the board. The best hint I can give people: Starcraft 2 as a whole wants to tell a better, more consistent, and easier to follow story internationally.

JawesomeArt58 karma

The next time I draw you Ben, can it be like one of my french girls? <.<

mrbitter91 karma

Oh God. Fuck it. Why not?

murraya43 karma

Where did Frodan get his pink leg warmers?

mrbitter54 karma

Pretty sure those are from American Apparel.

benbernankenonpareil40 karma

Link to a personal favorite match?

mrbitter78 karma

So hard to choose just one, so about this one from our recent final: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMsjUkeWuf4&list=UUtYQ8EgkAI4isr4HQKd0lUQ&index=1 Gameplay starts at 21:40

ChicksAlmighty39 karma

Dear Mr. Bitter. At events when the casters suit up, you do it best. Do you have an eye for fashion or does your girlfriend dress you?

mrbitter68 karma

I have a terrible eye for fashion. I fucking suck at getting dressed. It's a miracle that my pants fit every day. I do tie my own ties, though. And I'm damn proud of that fact. ;)

passivecrimes33 karma

This past season was great. I finally subscribed part way through the season, and I'm glad I did. Just wanted to thank you guys for all the hard work you all put into it.

Is there a date set for Season 5 yet?

mrbitter54 karma

Hmm... Not sure how much I'm allowed to speak to this point... What I can say is that our next official season will be played on Heart of the Swarm. Obviously we will have some content planned for the time between now and the launch, but we don't get serious again until after HOTS hits.

DH149831 karma

Who in your opinion is the best player in the world? Also who is the best up-and-coming korean and foreigner?

mrbitter42 karma

Hmm... Best in the world? I wish I could say Hyun, but he's recently proven to be mortal. Maybe Leenock? Best up and comer? Hitman from KT looks pretty damn impressive, and I really like Galaxy. Best up foreigner is a toss-up between Stephano, Nerchio and Scarlett. Stephano still has to get the nod given his success. Best up and coming foreigner is a bit tougher, but I think South African Protoss player PandaTank shows a great deal of potential and promise.

Advisery30 karma

Who's your favorite shout caster?Say Da9[9]

mrbitter33 karma

Too many good ones to choose. I've always really loved DJWheat. He is the OG of all e-sports personalities. But love has to be given to Tastosis, Day9, the YouTube guys Husky and TotalBiscuit, Apollo, perhaps the best analyst in the world, and, of course, my colleagues, Rotti, Frodan, and Gretorp.

Xacez27 karma

Will you be running a full-scale FFA League in the future?

mrbitter53 karma

lol. Believe it or not, this has come up in meetings. The answer: Almost certainly not. FFA is very fun, but it will also get stale pretty quickly if everyone starts doing them all the time. We want to keep it special. Something that only happens occasionally.

fernandotakai26 karma

What was your best esports moment?

DuStTK24 karma

Who from the current staff will be sticking around for s5?

mrbitter28 karma

As far as I know, everyone! We are always looking to make additions to the team, though. Anything to further enrich both the broadcast, and the live experience.

murraya22 karma

Will Season 5 be HotS or WoL?

Also, the NASL side segments are what makes it my favourite show/tournie to watch. Do you have any plans for new segments?

mrbitter19 karma

HOTS. Yes. New segments will abound! Better question: What segment does the community most want to see?

mrbitter9 karma

Yep, tons of new segments on the boards. Season 5 will be HOTS.

NerVeLoN22 karma

If you can think of one crowning moment that defined NASLS4, what would it be and why?

mrbitter42 karma

For me, it was our final. I'm very proud of our whole team, and I feel like the tightness of our overall broadcast, the elimination of down time, and the polish of all of our content was something no one has ever been able to do up until now.

a9arnn19 karma

Have there been any talks with MLG/Kespa on getting any Kespa players into the league?

Also, any hints to any cool segments for next season :P

mrbitter30 karma

We will be putting a greater focus on covering other major events in future seasons. No official talks to KESPA, but lots of talks to other important people in powerful positions.

Rehio15 karma

Will there be any between-season content showing up soon? I miss NASL already.

Will we see the return of THE GAUNTLET?

mrbitter8 karma

There will be stuff! We just have to figure out what kind. lol

PlzNoToxic15 karma

So we saw lots of silly things to fill time with NASL this season (Player retirement, lauren and frodan workouts etc), was there any suggestions for fun filler content that didn't make the cut?

mrbitter24 karma

Surprisingly: no. Our bosses give us incredible freedom. If someone comes up with a fun, creative idea, the answer is almost universally: make it happen.

quakeboy9914 karma

any idea where the next season finals will be taking place ???

mrbitter21 karma

Yep. Next official season will come with the release of Heart of the Swarm. Lots planned for the time between now and then, though!

FrodaN27 karma

He said where, not when, Ben!

mrbitter38 karma

Oh shit. Totally misread the question. We don't have a venue booked yet, but we really had a lot of fun in Toronto at the end of S3 ;)

GISP14 karma

Have you considered other games? For instance the newly released FPS/RTS Natural Selection 2 ???

mrbitter14 karma

We're always looking for new opportunities. The sidebar here is that it has to make sense for us to undertake something like a new IP. Running an e-sports broadcast is very, very expensive, and as much as we love gaming, we can't just throw money at an "e-sport" if there's no chance of a return on our investment.

sDsTash13 karma

If you had to pick 3 of the best things you did in Season 4 and 3 things you would change, what would they be?

mrbitter27 karma

Hiring our executive producer was a huge step forward for us in terms of pushing the vision for what an e-sports broadcast should look like. It was his idea to add segments (I actually fought him on it, initially).

Other important changes: Definitely have to give major shout-outs to our production team. Our post-production director (or whatever the hell his title is) has done a phenomenal job of putting the right people in important positions.

Lastly: improving player relations. Our league commissioner Ken Silva might have been the most important addition to our season 4 team of all.

blaptein11 karma

What has been your favorite/least favorite event to cover and why?

mrbitter35 karma

This is an impossibly difficult question. There are so many amazing events in incredible places around the world. Some of my favorite stops have been Canada for NASLS3, Poland for the Blizzard European Championships, Sweden for anything, and Cologne Germany because it's one of the most awesome cities on the Earth. Personally, I'm not particularly fond of China... ;)

GMABT11 karma

Is there an actual "NASL Sound Guy" that people could point their finger to, or is he just symbolic? Not asking to name any names

mrbitter21 karma

We don't actually have a full-time sound guy, but we did have a guy on location for our season 4 final, and I think he did a phenomenal job.

Xyrd10 karma

North American eSports tournaments get higher ratings when there are North Americans playing. The NASL has focused on becoming a tournament for the best talent in the world, but that talent isn't usually North American.

Do you think there is a way to tap into the extra ratings that show up when a North American is playing, assuming that the skill gap continues to exist?

mrbitter22 karma

North American players draw better ratings because its easier for fans to connect with them. We can create those same connections with Koreans if we, as event organizers, can learn to better inject their personalities into our shows.

DujekR9 karma

To Mr.Bitter in particular, do you think your proleague casting will interfere with your NASL casting or vice versa?

mrbitter19 karma

Nope. NASL comes first for me. I take great pride in my work here, and won't let anything else get in the way of it.

tangoand4209 karma

I've been liking where NASL is going, but I think in general with SC2 games the market has been a bit.. over saturated.

I do like the segments on your show like Fierce Fitness and Mining Out. I think it would be interesting if NASL branched off and became a SC2 variety show. You guys seem to have some interesting ideas there that haven't been done before.

edit: thanks for all the replies, NASL crew! Appreciate the community involvement and look forward to what's in store for the future :)

mrbitter13 karma

Our focus continues to be on entertaining more so than shoving tons of games down the viewers throat. In short, we kinda agree with you. I think you'll like what we have planned for 2013.

OnePostTommy8 karma

Why are you trying to organize a league and do video production simultaneously? Why not sell broadcasting rights to another company?

mrbitter11 karma

Because so few people are buying! Every major organizer runs their own production. This is a great question, though, and I can say this: Our ultimate goal is to be considered a world class production company with a focus on e-sports & not necessarily to be an e-sports company that also does production.

DH14988 karma

I know its the North American Star League but is there any chance of a European and US friendly cast?

mrbitter9 karma

If only time worked in such a way. Sadly the best we can do is our regularly scheduled European rebroadcast.

xasthur7 karma

Whats the thing you're most excited about for Heart of the Swarm?

mrbitter19 karma

The new meta-game, and the awesome speed at which it will develop thanks to the KESPA teams.