2003 ESWC Retrospective

The 2003 Electronic Sports World Cup was the first of its kind, not only in terms of names and numbers but also the quality of the tournament and the spectacle offered to the fans. Ligarena, the organisers of the famous Lan Arena events, have set a completely new standard in the world of western gaming. Thanks to new tournament systems (instead of double elimination) and the way the matches were presented on the stage, the competition was extremely exciting.

In 2003 we came to Poitiers expecting a good tournament but everything that we saw surpassed our expectations we had for that event. That the Quake 3, Counter-Strike, WarCraft 3 and UT2003 competitions would be exciting we knew well – all of the world’s top players attended. What made ESWC special was the care for the spectators and fans of gaming all over the world. Experiencing a gaming spectacle at such a high level was definitely worth the trip to France. The most important matches were played in a theatre, usually filled with a capacity crowd of 1,000 people. The players were introduced onto the stage by two lovely hostesses and then interviewed. The big screen behind the competitors displayed two POV’s, the players’ faces and… their current heartbeat rating. Added to that, there was live commentary in both French and English (with the use of infrared headphones). Is there any way to better the way this was presented?

The competitions at the Poitiers event gathered the very best the world had to offer. This resulted in every tournament being wildly exciting. Below you will find a brief outline of what went on in each competition.


The ESWC Counter-Strike tournament was one of the most prestigious competitions for CS that took place in 2003. The tournament broke from the standard MR12 setting in favour of MR15 (a decision often praised as well as scorned). It was also the first tournament Schroet Kommando took part in after Element joined their ranks. The Swedish powerhouse was, naturally, the favourite for the crown among manifold quality clans from all over the world (perhaps only Team 3D was missing).

The tournament progressed without any serious upsets. The favourites SK.swe, Team9 (known today as Adrenaline) and Four Kings went unchallenged through their groups, but in their shadow a somewhat underdogged Canadian-American zEx clan made their way to the knockout stage. It was that team that would produce the greatest upset of the year. It was not defeating UK’s best, Four Kings, in the 1/4 final. The victory that brought them fame and glory was the semi final win over Schroet Kommando. Because of the double group stage followed by a knockout stage SK could only compete for bronze. In the other semi final Team9 beat the French team Good Game.

In the end, Schroet Kommando had to settle for a disappointing third place and a cheque of $15,000. There were no more surprises in the most important game of the tournament and the Swedish powerhouse Team9 led by vesslan took home the first prize after a moderately comfortable win. The victors received $35,000, zEx got $25,000.

Counter-Strike female

Last year there was not one CS tournament in Poitiers. The second one was a female-only exhibition, one of the first of its kind. Although it was not an official tournament, it was to be taken seriously because money was still at stake - $3,000 for the winner, $2,000 for the runner up and $1,000 for third. Ten clans competed for those prizes. A word of comment about the way the girls looked would be fitting but hey, I do not wish to be called sexist by the same women in July.

Although we did not follow the competition very closely, we do know the scores. Schroet Kommando’s ladies have defended the SK.cs honour and won the tournament in a very convincing fashion – without a single loss (four wins in the group stage, 16-6 against DK Girls in the semi final and 16-9 against Femina Bellica in the final). Runners up were the Swedish girls from FB and Denmark Girls triumphed over the French To Hell Angels.

WarCraft 3

The ESWC 2003 had thitherto the highest competition tournament yet for Warcraft 3. Featuring players such as MaDFroG, HeMan, FatC, Blatty, Wizard, ShowTime and Insomnia. The latter who was involved in quite a bit of a scandal when he cheated in the ESWC qualification rounds. Most people were outraged when he was allowed to participate in the final round despite his having admitted to cheating.

The tournament showed the rise of a current superstar in Warcraft 3, MaDFroG. He was recognized and fairly acclaimed before the tournament (he was even in the Swedish national Starcraft team when he was active in that game) but his second place in the ESWC together with his clan and country mate, HeMan, SK snagging the number one spot led to a contract in Korea for both of them. HeMan is back in Sweden now but MaDFroG is still in Korea and is considered by many as the best Warcraft 3 player in the world. After HeMan had defeated FatC (who later on got the bronze) and MaDFroG had defeated ToD in the semi-finals it was clear that the two friends were going to face each other in the finals. This led to a mutal agreement between the two to split the prize money regardless of the results, which made the final game quite a relaxed one with HeMan winning two maps to one. One disappointment was the much hyped Korean player ShowTime who did not even reach the second group stage. The ESWC 2003 Warcraft 3 tournament is still considered as the best Warcraft 3 tournament of all time.

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