The Impact of Recession on Go Tournaments
The professional and international tournaments depend upon outside funding. The two primary sources of funding are corporate sponsorships and individual donors. During economic downturns, the level of funding is often drastically reduced, which results in some tournaments being canceled, professional associations struggling to maintain their budget, and professional players experiencing difficulty finding a sustainable income.
This is what happened, in the aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998 and again in the global downturn in 2008.
Tournaments affected in 2008/2009
- Toyota-Denso Cup - main sponsor lost, discontinued (incl. worldwide preliminaries)
- Female Strongest - discontinued
- World Amateur Go Championship - moved temporarily to China in 2010
- New earning system
- Baduk League - only 7 teams in 2009
- Kiseong - discontinued
- Etland Cup - discontinued
- Osram Cup - discontinued
- SK Gas Cup - discontinued
- Wangwi - discontinued 2007
- NEC Cup - suspended 2009
- Chunlan Cup - rumours about loss of main sponsor, but event continued.
- Zhonghuan Cup - discontinued 2009 ( http://weiqi.sports.tom.com/2009-06-10/00UP/08533082.html)
Tamsin: Any tournaments actually been cancelled? This page looks like groundless scaremongery to me.
John F. Read the press. Just off the top of my head, the Kuksu, Wangwi, Etland Cup and Baduk League have ended, several Chinese events have quietly dropped off the lists, and even at the amateur level the Japanese have switched the World Amateur to China next year. As this last example illustrates, even within tournaments that are surviving there have been cutbacks in game fees and travel. In Korea more and more sponsors are looking to supporting amateurs instead. The KBA case mentioned above likewise bucks the trend a bit because the KBA gets its money from the government, although the pros are trying to get their hands on it too, now. But, personally, I wouldn't have called it a crisis yet - it's more part of the normal ebb and flow and I'd see it more as a case of retrenchment after the reckless expansion of recent years. And even that could be seen as recovery from the previous "crisis" of 1998.
tapir: "In the final of 14th NEC Cup held on 2/28 in Shanghai, China, Gu Li 9p defeated Kong Jie 7p by resignation and won this champion for the fourth time. However, due to financial crisis, NEC Cup will suspend and Gu Li will become the last NEC Cup champion." ( http://www.gogameworld.com/gophp/pg_allnews.php?termvalue=financial%20crisis) Btw. the page is tagged as question, since I don't know the relevant languages. I am interested to see which professional association is less exposed to economic risk.
John F. tapir, at this stage I don't think any of the professional associations is exposed to serious risk, which is partly why I wouldn't call it a crisis. What might fairly be called a crisis, however, is the situation *within* the organisations. The top players are still earning big bucks, but most senior players in Korea and China are really feeling the strain (whilst, of course, also feeling they are being pushed out by young players who are scooping up the rewards that the older guys created over so many years). In China, the position of women in the pro ranks was a serious issue even before the credit crunch and has just got worse.
The most problematical issue is perhaps the position of young players. In an effort to take top position in the world, both China and Korea (the latter especially) have created a situation (e.g. by reducing time limits, easing promotions and entry qualifications) where the youngsters have benefited disproportionately compared to previous eras. It has been a bit of a Faustian bargain. Whilst Japan has fallen behind in the world rankings, at least they have most of the old structure (which suppresses the youngsters) in place and so are currently probably far better cushioned than the Koreans or Chinese, even leaving aside its higher GDP. Of course, the Japanese cannot afford to be smug. Their lack of world success is irritating many fans. The recent noises about newspapers considering dropping their go columns is probably, at this stage, no more than sabre rattling, a warning to the Japanese pros that they had better start chalking up some international successes.
Anonymous: Well now, seeing that every Pro is hungry for the win... we may see some really amazing development on the Go scene. I expect amazingly complicated Fuseki to be produced in secret in each Nation and even each Study Group. We may soon see underdog professionals attempting much more argessive play and a return to a Go knowledge Cold War. It's likely we won't see much as amatures, but once the world returns to normal, I expect that Go will only be richer for the experience.
willemien at http://www.godiscussions.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8717 (post nr. 7) Breakfast says "Koreans destroyed their pro system in 2009 and lost lot of sponsors. [...] At the end of 2008 lot of Korean pros voted for new system, which really means that they (80%) will never get any money in pro tournaments." I don't know anything more about this but maybe this decision is the cause of al the trouble. does anybody know more?