Why Does South Korea Dominate Esports?

By Alex Mercer

February 2, 2019

South Korea, known for its domination in every eSport tournament, is known for its electric crowds and legendary eSports athletes. eSports is not only recommended in South Korea; it’s often a way of life.

South Korea dominates the Esports landscape because of the gaming culture, availability for scrimmage and tournament play, and the number of available resources.

In this article, we will show you why South Korea has been leading the Esports scene since it started to become popular.

South Korea’s Gaming Culture

Socially accepted as a way of life, Esports in South Korea have put players next to pop stars and famous athletes. With the recent explosion of Esports, playing video games is no longer “kids wasting their time” but rather a journey to the limelight.

One of the strengths of Korean-born players is MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games. MOBA games include Starcraft and LOL(League Of Legends). Tournaments are jam-packed with screaming fans that can often fill a football stadium.

korean esports crowd

Also, it’s noteworthy the kind of money that can be made from Esports. Below is a great graphic by Zoltan Andrejkovis, author of ‘ A Newborn Business: Esports’.

It depicts how much money South Korea actually makes. At first glance, you may think that third place isn’t great, but then look at the countries/areas it’s up against. Countries that are 10 times their size.

south korea Esports dominance

The culture in gaming has blossomed because of the opportunity to make money. From a player, coach, and business aspect – the amount of money made is more than ever.

More money leads to better coaching and a better atmosphere to thrive in as an Esports player.

Player Pool In South Korea

The Korean culture has extreme focus and the “everything or nothing” attitude built into their culture. Their determination to work as hard as they can, then work harder is an admirable trait that is extremely hard to come by.

Esports being embraced by the culture helps players thrive from a young age. Similar to how US players may go outside and catch 50 more footballs to be like their favorite NFL player, Korean players have superstars like Jang ‘MC’ Min Chui and Lee ‘Flash’ Young Ho or even ‘Faker”, for whom young players can strive to be like.

The societal attitude of acceptance of Esports and admiration for the sport gives the players an ecosystem to grow in. Along with the resources available to the players, it’s more likely that a player will develop a masterful skill.

Scrimmage & Tournament Play

As mentioned, the player pool for games like Starcraft and LOL make Korean competition top-notch. Consistently practicing and playing against the best teams in the world will naturally increase the team’s overall talent level.

South Korea has large tournaments such as APEX and Challengers, which provide a massive cash pool for the winners. Western countries were slow behind these tournaments, as we’ve yet to see a formalized worldwide league.

However, with Esports being added to the Olympics, teams can get a taste of what a worldwide organized competition would look like! The most formalized version that’s been popularized in the US market is the league. It will be years until we see something like the NFL or MLB of Esports.

See Our Complete List Of Helpful Gaming Articles Here.

Esports Coaches and Analysts

For an athlete to succeed in the common day, at any level, it needs to have a few things:

  • Environment to thrive in
  • Good Coaches
  • Technology to help improve game skills

Check off all the boxes above for Korean players. Coaching especially…In Seoul, you can find a government-accredited game academy called the Game Coach Academy.

It’s a school funded by the government that offers training programs for aspiring professional players. It’s also headed by important Esports figures that understand what it takes to be the best. Coaches themselves are often retired professionals who have experienced the intense gameplay and stress players go through.

Fast Internet In South Korea

According to this Wikipedia page, the average internet speed is 28.6 MB/s. If that means nothing to you, the closest country is Norway, with an average of 23.5 MB/s.

That’s 5 MB’s faster than the next closest competitor. Why does fast internet matter? You know exactly why it matters for players who have ever played and dealt with a high ping issue.

Consistent and high-speed internet is often pricey and takes a while to set up in the United States.

In comparison to South Korea, the US has an average of 18.7 MB/s. Fast internet speeds also allow players to play at the highest level without lag – another major component to effective gaming in 2019.

South Korean Esports PC Bangs

If you haven’t heard of a PC bang or know what it is, and you’re a gaming nerd, you’re in for a treat.

PC bang, meaning “PC room” in Korean, is a LAN gaming center where players can pay money to play multiplayer games. The average cost for an average customer is right around 1,000 KRW, which equals out to about 88 cents.

Relatively cheap for younger players. Like how Americans would go to the movies on a Friday night, Koreans’ hangout spot is at a PC Bang. It gives younger players a social home to align interests of gaming and friends alike.

The demographics of the PC Bangs change throughout the day. Often open for 24 hours, the users during the day are often older males. After-school hours typically bring groups of younger players in to spend a good portion of the night gaming.

These are the top reasons that we found that South Korea is dominating in the eSports world. However, the rest of the world is catching up or surpassing South Korea in certain games.

Shooters like CS: GO and Call Of Duty are dominated by Swedish and American teams. The amount of money that can be made from eSports has caused countries worldwide to adopt the eSports lifestyle.

What Games Are South Korea The Best At?

South Korea flourishes in Starcraft and other MOBA games such as League Of Legends. Overwatch is also a game that South Korea competes very well in.

Does South Korea Have Gaming Schools?

Yes, South Korea has the Game Coach Academy, which young kids can attend to master a game. Games like Overwatch and LOL are taught at the academy. It may seem fun, but it requires a strict commitment and focus on the game being played. Players travel from all over the country to be trained by ex-professional players and top-notch coaches.


South Korea will continue to dominate the Esports scene because of the cultural influence that supports gaming. Other countries are slowly starting to migrate to accept Esports as a traditional sport.

South Korea was the leader in gaming when it first appeared on the scene, and it will continue to dominate in the upcoming years.

About the author

Hey There! My Name is Alex and I run Get Hyped Sports. I created this platform to help people find their love for sports and gaming.

Our work has been featured on platforms like Mashable.com, SVG.com, and XXL.com.

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