NASL.TV: All You Need to Know about The North American Star League

7 min read 0 1
NASL: All You Need to Know about The North American Star League

Characterized by its high-quality production and the engagement of professional competitors, The North American Star League (NASL) transformed the esports scene, bringing to light the fascinating narratives of players and delivering a world-class competitive experience.

Despite its promising beginnings, NASL’s existence was regrettably short-lived, spanning only from 2011 to 2014.

What Is NASL?

NASL: All You Need to Know about The North American Star League

Founded by Russell Pfister and Duncan Steward in February 2011, the North American Star League (NASL) distinguished itself as a cornerstone in the esports landscape, emphasizing StarCraft II, which is a real-time strategy game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The league later expanded to include other games like Heroes of Newerth. Its inception marked a bold move to establish a professional esports presence in North America, rivaling the South Korean Global Starcraft 2 League (GSL) in the player participation scale and the prize pool’s size. 

NASL’s mission revolved around elevating the profile of esports and professional StarCraft II play in North America. Drawing inspiration from Korean competitions, the founders envisioned a player-centric and engaging league for the audience. 

Over its lifespan, NASL successfully hosted four seasons. Although it ceased operations in 2014, it left an indelible mark on the esports community, paving the way for future leagues and serving as a testament to the potential of professional esports.

Game On: NASL’s Competition Structure

NASL’s structure was uniquely designed to create an intense and competitive experience for the players. The league was divided into seasons, featuring a series of online matches leading up to a final offline event. There, players faced off against each other in a fierce competition for the championship title, prize money, and recognition.

Each season comprised around 45 to 50 players, divided into various groups. The players were tasked with battling each other in a round-robin format, and the top performers from each group would advance to the playoffs.

The competitions were governed by a set of rules and regulations intended to ensure fair play and maintain a high standard of professionalism. Players were required to play their matches at scheduled times, with disqualifications or point deductions as penalties for any delays or no-shows. Additionally, using any cheats or exploits would lead to an immediate disqualification.

To join NASL, players had to belong to a team, be ready to travel to the main event and play on the NA server. They were also required to submit a video response to a pre-season questionnaire consisting of six questions:

1. Tell us about yourself and your history with SC2

2. Why should you be a part of the NASL?

3. Who are your biggest rivals?

4. How do you stand out from other players?

5. Name one player you’d like to see in the NASL?

6. Anything else you’d like to add?

This video was then uploaded to YouTube and shared with NASL via the email [email protected], including the participant’s name, ID, team, and race.

The Four Seasons

There were a total of four seasons in NASL running from 2011 to 2014, each filled with unique highs and lows.

Season 1

NASL: All You Need to Know about The North American Star League Season 1
Season 1 Champion, PuMa.
Source: Liquipedia

Start Date: April 5, 2011

End Date: July 10, 2011

In the inaugural season of the NASL, a lineup of 50 StarCraft players competed across five divisions. Over nine weeks, divisional matches were held, followed by an invitational tournament that saw 1000 competitors vying for a singular slot in the league finals.

Following a round-robin series of best-of-three matches, the top two contenders from each division advanced straight to the grand finals. Among the remaining 40, the upper echelon entered a two-round “playoff.” The five players who emerged victorious would secure spots in the grand finals. 

Consisting of a sixteen-person playoff, the final round was marked by a record-breaking prize pool amount, with the tournament victor pocketing $50,000 out of a total of $100,000. Despite a few hurdles, the grand finale in Ontario, California, saw PuMa, the triumphant open tournament player, claiming the hefty $50,000 prize. Regardless of some technical issues and critiques, the event was heralded as a success.

Season 2

NASL: All You Need to Know about The North American Star League Season 2
Season 1 Champion, PuMa.
Source: Liquipedia

Start Date: August 30, 2011

End Date: December 04, 2011

The NASL’s second season, starting August 30, 2011, saw substantial changes from its debut year. The StarCraft player roster was trimmed from 50 to 40, split across four divisions. A novel Heroes of Newerth team contest was introduced. The league structure enabled the top two performers from each division and the winners of five qualifying brackets to advance directly to the main tournament, with an extra spot for the semi-open tournament champion. 

Several challenges marked this season, including a stipend dispute leading to Korean team withdrawals and a subsequent reshuffle into five divisions. Persistent latency problems also forced player Fenix to exit mid-season. Despite these setbacks, the season continued with defined tie-breaking protocols based on match wins, score differences, and head-to-head records.

The grand finals from December 2 to 4, 2011, in Ontario, California, saw a thrilling duel where Lee “PuMa” Ho Joon from Evil Geniuses defended his title against Song “HerO” Hyeon Deok from Team Liquid. Winning 4-2, PuMa bagged the $40,000 prize, affirming his position as the two-time NASL champion.

Season 3

NASL: All You Need to Know about The North American Star League Season 3
Season 3 Champion, Stephano. Source: Liquipedia

Start Date: April 11, 2012

End Date: July 15, 2012

On April 11, 2012, the third season of the North American Star League began with 45 StarCraft players across five groups. This season also had a new Tribes: Ascend team contest. NASL revamped its brand image, marking the transition with a redesigned logo and hiring a fresh casting trio composed of MrBitter, RotterdaM, and Frodan.

NASL also made significant changes to the regular season. They wanted to make the games more exciting, so they decided to broadcast all matches live. They also started giving $150 to each winner of regular-season matches. The season finished with the finals in Toronto, Canada, on July 14 and 15, 2012.

Season 4

Season 5 Champion, HerO. Source: Liquipedia

Start Date: September 12, 2012

End Date: December 9, 2012

The fourth season of the North American Star League kicked off on September 12, 2012, featuring 45 StarCraft competitors across five groups. The prize pool was $60,000, immensely reduced compared to that of the first Season. The climactic finals occurred on December 8 and 9, 2012, at the Center Theater in Long Beach, California.

The Participants: Who Took to the NASL Battlefield?

The NASL attracted many skilled StarCraft II players from around the world. While the league primarily focused on the North American scene, it was open to competitors worldwide, attracting names from diverse regions, including Europe and Korea. Season after season, a mix of experienced veterans and promising newcomers competed passionately to establish themselves in the thriving esports scene.

Among the notable participants were Lim Yo-Hwan (SlayerS_Boxer), Lee Ho Joon (PuMa), Jang Min Chul (SK.MC), Song Hyeon Deok (HerO), Park Sung-Joon (JulyZerg), Jang Jae Ho (Moon), Manuel Schenkhuizen (Grubby), and Daniel Stemkoski (Artosis).

For a complete list of players who participated in NASL, check out the list of “All NASL Players” below.


NASL: All You Need to Know about The North American Star League. NASL.TV

NASL.TV served as the official website and online streaming platform for the North American Star League. It offers fans a comprehensive experience featuring expert analysis, live broadcasts, news, replays, statistics, and players’ information. Those who are interested can also find a variety of other content related to the competitions. 

The platform was lauded for its high production value and serious commitment to delivering a top-tier esports experience. 

The Downfall of NASL

Despite these successes, the league was not without its issues that led to its ultimate downfall. These challenges included financial difficulties, criticism over scheduling, production quality, and player participation. A significant restructuring was made, changing management and format to navigate the troubles. However, despite the improvements, the league found it unable to maintain consistent viewership due to the competitive esports landscape.

The culmination of these pressures resulted in the abrupt discontinuation of the NASL in 2014. Rising competition, especially from the burgeoning League of Legends scene, coupled with financial and organizational instability, marked the end of this StarCraft II esports institution. 

1 like 0 comments


Hald Twinpack
262 articles