Being that I’m from Australia, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Australian Rules Football is the most popular sport in the country (eat it Rugby League fans). From an outsider’s perspective, I would say that the NFL is the biggest sport in the USA. Canada? Hockey, for sure. In Europe it has to be Football (or Soccer to Aussies like me).
In South Korea, the national sport is perhaps a little more unique.
I am told that people here love Baseball, Soccer, Basketball and Golf. Not really unique considering these sports are played all around the world. But in modern times, arguably it is Star Craft that is the national sport. That’s right, the video game Star Craft.
Avid poker fans will already be aware of the connection between Star Craft and poker. And considering you are reading this on the PokerStarsBlog than you might already aware that one of the Team PokerStars Pros is very connected to the world of starcraft.
Enter: Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
Long before poker was a career and long before poker boomed around the world, Grospellier was one of the best Star Craft players in South Korea – which is the same as saying that Grospellier was one of the best gamers in the world. Grospellier finished runner-up at the World Cyber Games in 2001 and 4th in the following year.
When looking at some of the figures of viewership for Star Craft and eGaming in general on South Korean television, along with live stadium crowds, these sorts of results pretty much make Grospellier a household name in South Korea.
When we talk about viewership figures we are talking in the millions. Some estimates that we found on our travels through the internet suggest upwards of 5 to 6 million people have tuned in for big Star Craft gaming events. That’s huge and definitely more viewers than televised poker has seen in the last few years. These events also attract big live crowds, which Grosppellier recently spoke about in a blog he wrote prior to APPT Seoul.
“I once played in a stadium of 20,000 people. Packed, of course! It’s a unique phenomenon that’s seen nowhere else in the world. It’s always a bliss to be able to casually turn on TV to watch top pros compete. I highly recommend visiting a pro-gaming house and/or watching a game live.”
Though he has seen so much success in Star Craft, it is poker that Grospellier has really excelled at. Not only has Grospellier crushed online poker – perhaps finding the transition from Star Craft to multi-tabling MTTs being a natural one – he has also posted more than $10 million in live tournament results, putting him in the all-time Top 20 money earners.
Despite his connection to South Korea, Grospeller hasn’t posted poker results in this country and in fact hasn’t played here since 2008. Grospellier will certainly be looking to add a South Korean flag to his Hendon Mob and a big wad of Korean Won to his bankroll this week.
To be honest, writing about Grospellier and his connection to Star Craft like this is somewhat insulting to another player here on Day 1b of the APPT Seoul Main Event. That’s because we are told Guillaume Patry is an even bigger name in Star Craft than Grospellier.
Hailing from French-Canada, Patry was at one stage considered the best Star Craft player in the world. That was before he retired in 2004 and joined Grospellier on the poker circuit. Guillaume didn’t prosper quite as much as Grospellier in the poker world, but he is here at APPT Seoul and hoping to change that.
If their fighting spirit and winning ways in the Star Craft world are anything to go by, then both Grospellier and Patry will be tough competitors here at APPT Seoul. The Day 1b field of around 135 players heading into the fourth level of the day should be on their toes.