Starcraft 2 will be dead before Legacy of the Void if Blizzard doesn't change its course
This is an incredibly heated topic, and I'm speaking a bit outside of my comfort zone. Be warned, some things in this thread might be a bit completely outside of the realm of possibility/reality. I'm only speaking from my own, personal experience using the (incredibly) limited amount of knowledge I've accumulated while existing in this part of the internet over the past couple of years. History
For a little bit of backstory, Brood War was ENORMOUS in South Korea. ENORMOUS! It was broadcasted on  national television to millions of people. Players like Boxer earned  almost a half million dollars per year in salary + endorsements. Brood War was, for a lot of people, considered THE definitive E-Sport. Over  100,000 people#History_of_Starleague) were attending OSL finals.
There's really not much to argue about here. Starcraft: Brood War was enormous. Brood War was an undeniable stepping stone in order to get to where we are today. So why does it feel like growth has stagnated in Starcraft 2? Surely there's only one direction to go from the end of the Brood War to the start of Wings of Liberty, and that's up, yes? Stagnation and South Korea
People expected Starcraft 2 to only build upon Brood War and explode in popularity over the 2010-2012 seasons. "E-SPORTS E-SPORTS E-SPORTS" people would chant on the forums. Leagues such as IPL, NASL and MLG were raising all sorts of capital to invest in these tournaments with the idea that we'd be getting hundreds of thousands of viewers.
But that growth never came.
Even Sundance went on Live on 3 to explain that he's still  "not making money" and that the amount of money being spent now was more akin to "investing" than anything that was turning a real profit. We haven't seen the explosion in prize money we've been hoping for.
IPL's prize pool has  remained the same from seasons 3-5. The NASL's prize pool has  remained the same since its inception. MLG's prize pools  have been rising, but they are the only ones to push relatively innovative monetization schemes into the market (such as the $20 PPV model, + high production gold membership content).
So we haven't really seen the explosive growth that we were kind of expecting and hoping for. There are no million dollar Starcraft 2 tournaments. And, arguably the worst news yet, South Korea didn't bite.
A  quick glance shows that almost 25% of all South Koreans are playing League of Legends in PC Bangs. It's by far the most popular game, with the next game falling in under 13%. Brood War comes in 8th place, at 3.4%, and Wings of Liberty doesn't even make the top 10 list. Heart of the Swarm Bored
There's been a lot of hype concerning Heart of the Swarm. Streamers were looking forward to the (hopefully tremendous) boost of popularity due to having access to the Beta. Players were hoping for innovative new mechanics and play, reinvigorating what was becoming a relatively stagnated and uninteresting gain. I can speak from personal experience here, and from watching others play, that most of the HotS excitement died off in about one week. There was a noticeable bump in viewers for a little while, but everything has pretty much settled down now and people are back to Wings of Liberty.
To me, personally, this is one of the biggest nails in the coffin for the Starcraft 2 scene. Brood War was a whole different game, it changed everything and it remained popular for some 10 years, arguably defining a generation of South Korean athletics.
Alright, now that we have the history out of the way, it's time to get into some of the more controversial topics and ideas. How do we grow Starcraft 2?
This sounds like a dick answer, but I'm going into full-on asshole mode for this one. The people telling you that e-mailing sponsors to thank them for supporting teams etc...etc...and that it's really helping the scene are lying to you, or are delusional. It may help just a bit, but the impact is incredibly minimal compared to the most important factors - SALES. Companies don't sponsor events so that their PR people can jerk off over e-mails all day long; they sponsor events to get a monetary return on their advertisements.
Here's a simple formula.
I invest $x into an event knowing that it gets y viewers. I expect z% conversion on those viewers and my average sale is $a.
The money you invest into a team is the sponsorships that we hear about. The viewers are the number of people that watch tournaments. The "conversion" is a % of people that will make a purchase based on the investment in advertising, and the sale amount can be used to determine the worth of advertising.
If MLG gets 150,000 viewers and their conversion is .5% (750 people) on a particular product and my product sells for $30 each, I can expect to gross ~$22,500 in sales from "sponsoring" said tournament. If I were going to advertise or invest in MLG, there are no amount of "friendly e-mails" that are going to cause me to invest more than that into it, because it's simply not worth my time or money to do so.
Yeah, I simplified this quite a bit. Brand image (people being happy/associating your brand with positive ideas) and loss leading (losing money in one area in the hopes of using the marketing to gain money in another area) do exist, and it IS a good thing to tell advertisers that you have MADE A PURCHASE of a product DUE to them sponsoring a particular event. However, I get this feeling/notion that people think that if we just go on these mass e-mailing sprees that somehow it will "grow e-sportz!!111" or cause this huge influx of money into the scene.
In the end, it all comes down to money. The best way to grow E-Sports is to acquire more viewers. If we can't do anything, who can?
There is only one person right now who can grow Starcraft 2 in the way it needs to grow. One entity, rather.
Starcraft 2 is suffering from a lot of problems. It has been from the very beginning, but Blizzard has failed to address them time and time and time again. They are continually proving themselves utterly incompetent when it comes to managing a game as a competitive sport backed by a casual community.
People, ESPECIALLY people in this community seem to fail to realize that a game's competitive success lives or dies by its casual accessibility. Yeah, in a dream world we all want this ULTRA CUT-THROAT COMPETITIVE FUCK YOUR FACE game where OH MY FUCKING GOD SKILL CEILING SO HIGH NO MULTIPLE BILDING SIELECT FUK AUTO-MICRO OH MY GOD SO COMPETITIVEEE!1111...But in the real world, no one wants to play that game except competitive people.
Competitive games are not fun.
It's not fun to play ranked matches that affect a ladder ranking. Why on earth would you play a game that gives you ladder anxiety? Why would you play a game where 11/11 or 6 pools or 4gates can kill you in under 4 minutes? Why would you play a game that punishes mistakes so cruelly?
The average, casual player wouldn't. One of the Starcraft 2's major problems is its inability to understand that its primary audience (the casual gamer) has been completely neglected.
Let's look at Brood War for a second. Check out  what you see as soon as you log in. The chat + friends list takes up almost 70% of the screen! If you want to play "Melee" games (kind of the equivalent to Laddering in SC2) you have to click the "Join" button on the right, and then filter for the melee games you wanted to play. Starcraft 2 has taken a relatively minor and extremely unpopular feature of Starcraft Brood War and made it the  focal point of their game. Why in the FUCK would you design a game around the most unpopular feature of its predecessor?! This shows a clear and disgusting lack of understanding on Blizzard's part and is entirely unacceptable for a company trying to design a competitive game.
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like these; obviously the people in Blizzard who work in the positions they work in are there for a reason, so I assume they know more than me about these things. But this...oversight...I just don't understand. Everyone who played Brood War played for the UMS games; the 2v2v2v2 BGHs; the 3v3 zero clut!111 nr 20 and 2v2v2v2 FMP!. When most people think of BW, they remember playing hundreds of games of Evolves or Bunker Wars or that fucking Yugioh! or DBZ game.
WHY WOULD YOU MAKE THE FOCAL POINT OF SC2 A COMPETITIVE ASPECT WHEN 95% OF CASUAL GAMERS HAVE NO DESIRE TO COMPETE?!
This lack of understanding on Blizzards part is the number 1 reason why Starcraft 2 is dying, and their  utter failure in understanding even the most basic concepts of designing a casual-friendly game are mind-blowing.
Here are a few suggestions just right off the top of my head, that would increase SC2's popularity among casual gamers:
- More ways to get achievements (everyone fucking loves achievements, look at: X-box live, Square-enix's online play, Steam, PSN, origin, WoW, to name a few)
- Customizable decals or skins for units (no affect on play, only visual)
- Paid/unpaid name change (THEY ALREADY ACCEPT PAYMENTS AND YOU CAN ALREADY CHANGE YOUR NAME, THE BACK-END EXISTS, WHY NOT MAKE A FRONT-END FOR THIS WHAT THE FUCK?!)
- Fix the clusterfuck that is "The Arcade" (I don't even)
Blizzard is by no means an indie company, it's not like they lack the funds or the resources to do any of these things. The fact that we had a game launch without chat channels...I don't...what...how...my God....
Players LOVE "building" towards something when they play. That's why people grind out games on League of Legends - they always earn points every game that they can put towards new champions or runes. There is no reason to play more than a few online games of Starcraft 2 before putting it down and being done with it. This is a HUGE FUCKING PROBLEM.
What's worse, Blizzard seems to be completely oblivious to all of these problems with Heart of the Swarm. Clan support? WE DON'T WANT CLAN SUPPORT, JUST LET US CHANGE OUR NAMES. Ability to play unranked games? This is nice, BUT FIX THE CLUSTERFUCK ARCADE, casual gamers don't give a fuck about 1v1s! So what's going to happen in the next few years?
I'm sorry if I come off as pessimistic, but with the way that RioT and Valve are doing SO MANY THINGS right with their respective games, I can't see SC2 being considered a serious competitive game come 2 years from now. LoL's growth has been explosive, DotA 2 is...well, fuck, it's DotA and Valve, what else needs to be said? Both games push their marketing HARD (RioT  pushes their youtube and runs  all sorts of promotions to get people involed in the community, DotA has  HATS MAN, HATS!).
Starcraft 2 has....people clapping during Blizzcon when players don't spawn in close positions and people screaming in agony when lag screens come up. And don't give me this bullshit about how "IT WASN'T B.NETS FAULT!", IT DOESN'T MATTER THAT IT'S NOT B.NETS FAULT, IF IT WAS ON LAN THEN INTERNET WOULDN'T BE A FUCKING FACTOR. And them having the nerve to say that emulating the b.net server locally would be  impossible is a fucking  JOKE.
Again, sorry if this sounds pessimistic, but if this game is going to grow and be considered a serious contender to LoL or DotA 2 over the next few years, the only person we can really rely on to step up their game is Blizzard. The community can help, a bit; purchasing products and letting advertisers know you are making purchases based on sponsorships + telling your friends about the game. But Blizzard HAS to make some kind of serious attempt to appeal to the casual player and to bolster interest and support from the casual gamer.
The ball's in your court, Blizzard.
(I'll edit and change up some things if this reads weird or has factual errors anywhere in it based on comments below, feel free to let me know if I'm way off the mark on something)