Although StarCraft 2 is a 1v1 real-time strategy game, there has always been a big emphasis on teams. Some teams have big names to them and are recognized and respected by their names alone. Unlike other eSports, StarCraft 2's teams function virtually as sponsors to players. Each team has a different dynamic, however, the fact that StarCraft 2 does not rely on teamwork, but instead on individual skill remain a reality of the game.
For much of StarCraft 2's life, there were two distinct scenes: the Korean scene and the foreigner scene. In the earlier days of StarCraft 2, the foreigner scene hosted several team-based tournaments, including the IGN Pro Team League and North American Star Team League to name a few. Eventually, the foreigner scene focused less on team-based tournaments, while the team leagues remained a major part of the Korean StarCraft 2 scene. Due to the difference in the team dynamic between the two scenes, foreigner teams are generally judged on the play and results of their top players, while Korean teams' team results generally determine their perceived strength.
Every team has found its fair share of fans due to consistently outstanding performances, with the Korean teams generally agreed upon as being the best. In order to provide a fair share of foreigner teams, who have their relevance in the StarCraft 2 team scene, we decided to use WCS rules to help determine the list. Here are the top 10 StarCraft 2 teams.
- Founded: April 2016
- Notable Players: Alex "Neeb" Sunderhaft
- Total Earnings: $276,343
Mobile phone service provider Ting made its first entry into the StarCraft 2 scene, not as a team, but as a sponsor of the 2v2 Ting Cup in 2015. A year later, Ting made a bigger splash onto the scene by sponsoring the BaseTradeTV hosted online tournament, The Ting Open. A month later, Ting announced that it had sponsored American player, Neeb, entering the fray as a StarCraft 2 team. The announcement created lots of waves, mostly due to the power of their signing's name.
Before signing with Ting, Neeb was beginning to make a name for himself as an up and coming player. As a teamless player, Neeb found himself making it to the Round of 16 in 2016's DreamHack Open: Leipzig and WCS' 2016 Winter Circuit Championship. After signing with Ting, Neeb's results only got better; Neeb has earned thirteen top 8 finishes with Ting, including winning 3 major tournaments: 2016 KeSPA Cup, and 2017 WCS Austin, Jönköping, and Montreal. His 2016 KeSPA Cup victory made him the first foreigner to win a Korean premier tournament. His WCS victories also made him the first foreigner to earn The Triple Crown for winning a Premier Tournament in the game's three major regions, North America, Europe, and Korea.
Ting has yet to sign any other players, but it's only a matter of time. Ting may be a one-man team, but with the results and performances that Neeb continues to have, it seems Ting has no need to build additional pylons.
9. ROOT Gaming
- Founded: March 2010
- Notable Players: Kim "herO" Joon Ho, Diego "Kelazhur" Schwimer, Kevin "qxc" Riley, Shin "Hydra" Dong Won
- Total Earnings: $638, 700
Some teams find themselves ranked among the best due to the power of its name, as opposed to the power of its players. While ROOT Gaming does not have the sheer volume of top finishes as some of the other top teams, it would be completely unfair to say that it is relying on its names, as opposed to its accolades. Over the years, ROOT Gaming has become one of the best and most popular North American teams, despite lacking lots of championships to show for it.
ROOT Gaming's legacy lies with its players and their consistency. ROOT Gaming has recruited many different players, with only a few of them going on the hold up a trophy. Still, its players very often made deep runs in tournaments, often making it to the top 16 or better in many major and premier tournaments. The players that found success in tournaments during their time with ROOT have become household names.
ROOT Gaming may have made less of a splash in the last few years, but it still saw impressive performances from its members, especially herO with two championships in Korea, as well as top 16 finishes by the majority of its roster. ROOT's ability to house so many top and up and coming names, despite its lack of an extensive record, has helped to establish it as one of the game's top teams.
8. Evil Geniuses
- Founded: April 2009
- Notable Players: Lee "Jaedong" Jae Dong, Benjamin "DeMusliM" Baker, Ilyes "Stephano" Satouri, Greg "IdrA" Fields, Marcus "ThorZaiN" Eklöf
- Total Earnings: $16,930,432
Evil Geniuses, despite being having closed down its StarCraft 2 division at the start of 2017, remains one of the most well-known and recognizable names when it comes to foreign StarCraft 2 teams. One of the oldest North American eSports teams, Evil Geniuses created a StarCraft 2 team in 2009. Evil Geniuses made moves that proved that it had hoped to not only become a top foreigner team but to also create an American scene to rival that of South Korea. To this end, Evil Geniuses acquired one of the top non-Korean Brood War players, Idra, several Korean players, and several up and coming international players. In addition to these major acquisitions, Evil Geniuses created a team house, hoping to see the same effect as the Korean team houses.
While Evil Geniuses' players lack the individual results that some of the other top teams, it was able to use its name to earn itself several partnerships and sign big name players. In 2012, Evil Geniuses partnered with the Korean team SlayerS to compete in The Global StarCraft Team League as Slayers-EG and later EG-Liquid with Team Liquid. That same year, Evil Geniuses signed some of StarCraft 2's biggest names in Thorzain, Jaedong, and Stephano.
Evil Geniuses might not have the individual results that many would expect from a top team of its caliber. During its time as a team, however, it was able to establish itself as one of the top teams on the North American and foreigner scene. Though the foreigner scene never featured as big a focus on team tournaments, Evil Geniuses very often had impressive results in the few tournaments it took part in.
- Founded: December 2016
- Notable Players: Kang "Solar" Min Soo, Kim "Stats" Dae Yoeb, Jun "TY" Tae Yang
- Total Earnings: $1,590,274
Splyce is a team new to the StarCraft 2 scene. Splyce joined the StarCraft 2 scene in 2016 by signing the Korean Zerg player, Solar. Prior to signing with Splyce, Solar played for Samsung Galaxy, where he posted countless impressive tournament results, including 1st place DreamHack finishes in 2014 and 2015, as well as in Season 2 of the StarCraft II StarLeague in 2016. Splyce then made two more big-name signings with Stats and TY at the end of 2016 and start of 2017, respectively.
Both Stats and TY were previously members of KT Rolster, one of the best teams in Korea before KeSPA disbanded in 2016. Both players consistently placed well in major and premier tournaments, often making it to the Round of 4 before being eliminated. Splyce is a small team with an impressive roster and list of accolades since its founding: Stats became the Season 1 Global Starcraft League champion and Season 2 SSL Champion in 2017, two 2nd place finishes for Solar, one for TY and several in the Round of 16 or better.
Splyce might have joined the StarCraft 2 scene much later than many other teams, but the quality of talent found on its small roster has helped to quickly establish Splyce as one of the best teams on the scene.
6. Team Liquid
- Founded: 2010
- Notable Players: Grzegorz "Mana" Komincz, Dario "TLO" Wünsch, Marc "uThermal" Schlappi, Jens "Snute" Aasgaard, Patrick "Bunny" Brix, Mana, TLO, Yoon "Taeja" Young Seo, Song "HerO" Hyeon Deok, Jonathan "Jinro" Walsh
- Total Earnings: $18,733,041
Like Evil Geniuses, which it partnered with in the 2012 GSTL, Team Liquid is easily one of the most well-known names on the foreigner StarCraft 2 scene. Team Liquid has been a consistent presence on the StarCraft 2 scene since the beta. Immediately after the launch of StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty, Team Liquid formed a partnership with the Korean team oGs, which allowed its players to play on the Korean scene. In fact, Team Liquid's time on the Korean scene has produced the best foreigner result in the GSL with Jinro's two Round of 4 finishes.
Team Liquid's status as one of the top teams is not limited to its early performances. Through its entire career and even currently, Team Liquid has boasted some of the most impressive StarCraft 2 talents. In 2012, HerO and TaeJa emerged as the champion and runner of DreamHack Open Winter 2012. Its players have won five of sixteen HomeStory Cups and six DreamHacks and, as a team, has earned two premier team league championships. Members of Team Liquid have made deep runs in tournaments so often that the team is known for how often they find themselves in a team kill situation.
Team Liquid has managed to withstand the test of time, constantly producing top-shelf talent throughout the years. The players on Team Liquid are constantly in the conversation when talking about the top players at the time. Team Liquid started out strong as one of the top contenders on the foreign StarCraft 2 scene and has done nothing but dodge fungals because it shows no signs of slowing down.
5. Team Acer/Team Expert
- Founded: 2011 as Team Acer; August 2016 as Team Expert
- Notable Players: Alexander "Bly" Svusuyk, Mun "MMA" Seong Won, Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn, Byun "Byun" Hyun Woo, Arthur "Nerchio" Bloch, Lee "INnoVation" Shin Hyung
- Total Earnings: $1,337,367 ($655,491 as Team Acer; $681,875 as Team Expert)
Founded in 2011, Team Acer, now known as Team Expert, was a hotbed for top talent, both on the foreigner and Korean scene. On the foreigner front, Team Acer was the home of Nerchio, Scarlett, and Bly, constants in the conversation regarding the top foreign Zerg players. Team Acer also signed some of the biggest Terran names at the time with INnoVation, MMA, and Byun. All three of its top Terran were considered not only the best Terran but the best StarCraft 2 player in the world at one point. This includes 2016 Blizzcon Champion, Byun, who signed with Expert after winning the 2016 GSL Season 2 as a teamless player, the first to do so.
As a team, Acer hosted the Acer TeamStory Cup, where it finished as the runner-up in its first season and as the champion in the last two. Other top finishes as a team include a first-place victory as Acer-Axiom against AZUBU in 2013 GSTL Season 2 and a second-place finish in 2013's StarCraft 2 League.
Team Acer might have been rebranded as Team Expert in 2016, but with its roster still sporting some of the same big-name players that it had as Team Acer, it's no wonder that Team Expert is in the conversation about current top teams. With so many players now teamless, it's only a matter of time before Team Expert further bolsters its roster and becomes the truly formidable team it once was again.
4. KT Rolster
- Founded: May 2012
- Notable Players: Lee "Life" Seung Hyun, "Lee" Flash" Young Ho, Kim "MyuNgSik" Myung-Sik, Woo "Violet" Jung Ho, Kim "Stats" Dae Yoeb, Joo "Zest" Sung Wook
- Total Earnings: $2,469,801
Along with its rival, SK Telecom T1, KT Rolster, was one of the top names in StarCraft Brood War. During the years of Brood War, KT Rolster often traded blows with SKT in league title matches. During the transition from Brood War to StarCraft 2 in 2012, fans were excited to see KT Rolster's performance in StarCraft 2, especially that of Flash, easily one of the best and strongest Brood War players.
While Flash never posted the dominating performances that many had hoped for, the other players on the team managed to pick up the slack. These stellar performances include GSL Championships by Life, arguably the best StarCraft 2 player at the time, and Zest, including his Royal Road in 2014 GSL Season 1.
Not only did KT Rolster manage to post impressive individual results, especially in international tournaments, they also managed to perform well as a team, posting good results in Pro League.
KT Rolster won the first Pro League and, along with Jin Air Green Wings and SK Telecom T1, advanced to the playoffs each year. Up until the disbandment of KeSPA and KT Rolster, the team constantly managed to keep the majority of its players, while being able to sign stronger players from other teams, a god metric of a team's strength.
3. Jin Air Green Wings
- Founded: December 2011
- Notable Players: Jang "Creator" Hyun Woo, Cho "Maru" Seong Ju, Lee "Rogue" Byung Ryul, Kim "SoS" Yoo Jin, Cho "Trap" Sung Ho
- Total Earnings: $1,376,992
Jin Air Green Wings, formerly known as 8th Team during its time as a StarCraft: Brood War team, emerged as one of the top Korean StarCraft 2 teams when KeSPA made the switch to StarCraft 2 in 2012. After the switch, the KeSPA teams began to dominate not only in the team leagues but in the biggest tournaments of the year as well. During this time, it was rare to not find a member of the Jin Air Green Wings not make it to at least the Round of 8.
Jin Air Green Wings had an outstanding performance during the last year of Pro League. During that time, Jin Air Green Wings constantly placed in the top 4 of each round, which earned it a guaranteed spot in the grand finals, which it won with a 4-0 victory. In fact, Jin Air also performed well in Pro League in the previous two years, making it to the playoffs both times and to the finals in 2015.
Of its current roster, only one player has not earned a championship, with half of them – Maru, Rogue, and sOs, affectionately known as $o$ for winning two $100,000 tournaments in one year– winning during their time with the team. Despite KeSPA disbanding at the end of 2016, Jin Air Green Wings has continued to operate as a team when all the other teams chose to disband, with its players continuing to report good results.
2. Incredible Miracle
- Founded: October 2010
- Notable Players: Jung "MVP" Jong Hyun, Lim "NesTea" Jae Duk, Hwang "Losira" Kang Ho, Ahn "Seed" Sang Won
- Total Earnings: $1,254,041
Before the Korean eSports Association made the switch to StarCraft 2, there was already a number of Korean teams dominating the StarCraft 2 scene. The most dominant of these teams was Incredible Miracle, founded by five former Brood War players. Transferring their skills and performances from their time at Brood War, the team immediately made a name for itself, constantly posting impressive results in tournaments.
Incredible Miracle is home to some of the best StarCraft 2 players with the most impressive titles to their name. MVP, who was regarded as the best StarCraft 2 player during his time has an impressive four GSL titles to his name. In addition to MVP's 4-time GSL Championship, Seed won the title once in 2012 GSL: Season 3, NesTea was a 3-time GSL champion. The NesTea Award was created in 2012 when NesTea made his 10th GSL Code S appearance. The following year, MVP made his 10th Code S appearance, also earning himself the award. To this day, Incredible Miracle has the most 1st place GSL Code S finishes with eight and most total finishes with fifteen.
In addition to the incredible individual placements achieved by Incredible Miracle's players, as a team, they often placed high in team leagues as well. In a partnership with Quantic Gaming as Quantic Incredible Miracle, the team won the first IGN Pro League Arena Challenge as well as the third. Incredible Miracle also placed 2nd, twice, in the IGN Pro Team League. In addition to its appearances in four IPL finals, Incredible Miracle also made it to the first two Global StarCraft 2 Team League finals, winning the first and narrowly missing out on a second title.
1. SK Telecom T1
- Founded: May 2012
- Notable Players: Kim "Classic" Doh Woo, Park "Dark" Ryung Woo, Lee "INnoVation" Shin Hyung, Eo "soO" Yoon Su, Jung "Rain" Yoon Jong
- Total Earnings: $8,527,564
SK Telecom T1 made the switch to StarCraft 2, along with six other teams, in 2012. During its time as a Brood War team, SKT remained the team to beat, earning itself fifteen team championships and the adoration of countless fans. When SKT made the switch to StarCraft 2, many of its top players like soO, FanTaSy, Rain, and Bisu –along with its fans– followed the team to the new game. The name of SKT also gives it the ability to acquire other strong players like INnoVation, Parting, Dream, and Classic.
The players of SKT posted an outstanding amount of championships – in Korea and on the international scene. Three of the four players in 2015 KeSPA Cup Season 2 Round of 4 were SKT players, with soO and Dark taking first and second place, respectively. IEM Season X – Shenzhen and IEM Season X – Gamescom were both won by SKT members, with Innovation and soO taking the top two positions. On the international scene, it was extremely rare for the SKT's players to not make it to at least the Round of 16.
While much of SK Telecom T1's claim as the top team in StarCraft 2 is due in thanks to its time on top in Brood War, its results in Pro League speak for themselves. SKT made it to the finals of Pro League all three years, winning in 2015 and earning bronze and silver in the other two years. The Pro League rounds were played in round robin style, and across the three seasons, SKT finished first at least once each year, including three times in 2015, the same year it went on to win.
- Founded: July 2016
- Notable Players: Juan Carlos "SpeCial" Tena Lopez, Jake "NoRegret" Umpleby, Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn
- Total Earnings: N/A
The House isn't a team, per se. In fact, save for Gauntlet's The House vs Korea tournament, the players aren't known as belonging to "The House." Despite this, those familiar with the current state of StarCraft 2 will understand why The House can still be viewed as such. From the early days of StarCraft 2, several foreigner players would often spend time in Korea to train in team houses and on the Korean ladder. In 2016 several players including NoRegret, Neeb, and Scarlett floated the idea of forming a team house for foreigners in Korea. The aim of this team house was to create an environment where foreign players could train in a competitive environment like the top Korea teams.
The team house has proven to have had the desired effect, as the players who have been living and training there have had their best results: Juan Carlos "SpeCial" Tena Lopez earned a Round of 4 finish in the 2017 WCS Global Finals, the highest finish for a foreigner, earning many upset victories to make it there. After failing to qualify the previous two years, Jake "NoRegret" Umpleby qualified to GSL Season 3 in 2017 and Season 1 in 2018. The biggest results from a The House player comes from Scarlett, who won IEM PyeongChang, which was played ahead of the Winter Olympics, as well as making it to the GSL Round of 8 in Season 1 of 2018, beating out Zest and Innovation.
Of course, one might argue causation and correlation when looking at the results, but it's safe to say that when other players see that they are competing against a player staying in The House, they know they're in for a tough match. In recent years, foreign teams and players have found themselves being able to go toe to toe with the Korean players, and The House players are perfect proof of that.
It's no surprise that KeSPA teams come away with the top honors on the list. From the days of Brood War, they created the template for StarCraft teams. The focus on team houses and training environment helped to foster the strength that has been associated with Korean StarCraft 2 players for so long. Like the meta of the game, things are ever-changing, and in the last few years, foreign teams have been able to produce and recruit talent that can compete with the likes of the Korean teams.
Let us know your favorite teams and which teams you think deserve to be on the list. What are your favorite StarCraft 2 moments? Let us know in the comments below.