We are the North American Star League - Producers, hosts, editors, directors, and staff of Starcraft 2 (and sometimes other games) tournaments. Ask us anything!
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.