HS Esports: Death of a Dream

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The changes to the Hearthstone Esports program this year makes it no longer viable for the average person to enter the tournament circuit.

Part 1: Qualifier Accessibility

Previous years, players could go to a local location and play in a "Tavern Hero" tournament to qualify for a Challenger Final. This has dissolved, local locations no longer have any role in HS Esports.

Previous years, Challenger Cups happened at large variety of times, including night tournaments. Now all Americas Masters Qualifiers start times happen between 8am and 2pm PST. People unable to play during this small 6 hour window are out of luck, there is no variance. They claim you can play in a qualifier "when you want" because the qualifiers for other regions happen at different times. However, realistically the average player does not have a card collection on all three servers. If you live in the Americas and you want to play in a qualifier at night, you need to have a card collection on the Asia server.

Part 2: Cost analysis

Prior year, if you qualified for a play-off, you had to provide your own travel and lodging, but there were a few locations you could choose to go to, you were awarded a minimum of $1000 for last place, and the venue provided a machine for you to play on if you desired.

This year, if you qualify for a master tour, you have to provide your own travel and lodging, there is only ONE location you can go to, which may be on a different continent than you, and will only possibly be on the same continent as you once of the three times it occurs this year. The venue will not have a machine, bring your own, sorry if you don't own a suitable portable device with an Ethernet jack. The minimum award has not been announced, but it is potentially 0$.

What is the most the minimum prize could be?
There are currently 240 master qualifier tournaments scheduled. Each of the three regions will have two ladder tournaments for each Masters Tour where four people will qualify, this is 24 additional players. High HCT point earners from the previous year will be invited. I don't know how many of them there are, but the January Masters Cup had 15 players, so there is a minimum of 15 additional HCT invites.

This is 279 known invites, there are also unknown invites:
Invitations can be granted through "licensed third-party tournaments" such as Dreamhack.
China will grant invitations through the China Gold Series. It is hard to guess how many people from China will be invited, but I assume it will be a considerable number, as in the past they try to make it even with the other three regions. If this was the case, they would be inviting 88 players.

It is safe to say there will probably be a minimum of 300 invites.
The prize pool for a Masters Tour is $250,000. With 300 people, even if first place got the exact same prize as last place (which would never happen), the most money you could give each player would be 0.33% of the prize pool, which comes to $825. Realistically the most last place can hope for is 0.1% of the prize pool ($250).

But wait! They announced that there will be a special purchasable bundle where a portion of the proceeds will increase the prize pool. There will be one promotion, Blizzard will collect the money, decide what percentage they will give to the prize pools, and then divide it by 3. One part for each of the three Master Tour tournaments.

Optimistically, lets say Blizzard deems that the prize pool portion of the bundle promotion is $750,000! This would double the prize pool for each of the three Master Tour tournaments. This would be distributed as a percentage basis to all levels of the base prize pool. Optimistically, the prize for last place has just been raised from $250 to $500.

The average person will now have to pay taxes on that $500 and end up with $375.
The average airfare alone for an intercontinental flight is over $1000, plus pay for room and board, and bring your own device.

Part 3: Conclusion
The average person with a standard job cannot afford the time, nor the money, required to participate in the tournament circuit this year. Blizzard seeks to promote and raise up established professional players while destroying the rungs to reach that level. The dream of Hearthstone glory is dead.

At least it is for me, for an entire year, at a minimum.
I am glad since this is not a sport in that their is no skill involved only luck. My deck can beat any grand master deck if the cards come up the right way.

In SC on the other hand, its 90% skill.
This would be fixed by them finding a base payout for last place for the Master's Tournaments. There are 3 per year, one per continent. Just last year, they increased the minimum from $100 to $1000, then instantly drop it to $0?? This is their biggest mistake so far in the new changes. I want to be optimistic like you that they will announce bottom-level payout for the mere 300 people per event, but:

https://battlefy.com/hsesports
"and cash prizes awarded to 1/3 of tournament participants"

I think players would overwhelmingly agree the payouts should be adjusted from top to bottom to make sure that everyone who earns an invite gets a reasonable chance to compete at the next level. It is a big middle finger to everyone trying to work their way up who is not already a pro on the top to shaft 2/3 of the entire Master's Tournament. That's a joke. Blizzard knew this last year; why do they all of the sudden forget?? This just snakishly ensures that if you're not already a pro you can't even compete through your own merit like what they're claiming to be trying to establish. Last year there were considerably more majors where they were paying out the bottom of the tourney, and now they cut it to 3 tournaments AND cut the payout rate from 100% to 33%. This is nothing but pure greed and self-sabotage to your own game. This is still a very limited event with less than 400 of the top players. I don't really need to spell it out do I? A large amount of the very few people who qualify for the Masters Tournament won't even be able to travel to participate if 2/3 of them are getting screwed, let alone the tourneys that are out of region the rest of the year. If you want the circuit to be truly open and accessible through these online qualifiers then you need to compensate the bottom of the major Masters tournament. End of story. You had it right last year.
02/24/2019 09:28 PMPosted by Pandamonium

https://battlefy.com/hsesports
"and cash prizes awarded to 1/3 of tournament participants"


Wow, I hadn't seen that site. That's even worse than my worst case scenario. There is 0 chance I will be going now. 2/3rds of the people going don't get anything? I might play in some qualifiers for the pack rewards, but honestly winning a qualifier isn't even a prize at this point, it's simply a bill.

If the masters tour tournaments were open invite, and anyone could go without qualifying, I wouldn't even be going, that's just not worth it.
Full time job just to sign up for the qualifiers. 2 weeks out, and there’s over 500 entries for 200 spots.

The new system is just going to be filled with the same people who have time to play qualifiers everyday.
Yeah - seems like a pretty top-down system that favors the favored. Nothing new about that though, alas. You'd think they'd want to give players some sense that they'd be able to 'make it' to these kinds of events rather than actively punishing them even if they do somehow qualify.
Hearthstone is too heavy on the RNG side to be of any significance in Esports. Yes, some skill is required and helps, but RNG is too prevalent right now.

This is extremely obvious in that these tournaments always end up with a new set of faces. If skill outweighed RNG, you would see more consistency in the players but you don't.

Look at the tournament choose your champion right now. None of those players are familiar at all.
Watch this years tournament viewership numbers plummet even more than last years, this is what happens when you cater to a select few ;)

Grab your buckets peeps, we need to stop this ship from sinking lulz. I'm glad tbh that I've never taken this game seriously, stuff like this from Blizzard only reinforces the feeling that I've made the right decisions regarding HS etc.
It makes it vastly easier to qualify as an amatuer, I’d say.

Instead of grinding ladder for points every month and traveling to tournaments for points every week, you just win one online qualifier. That’s a massive difference in overhead.

Yes, traveling to championships will take some investment, but it’s peanuts compared to doing it nearly every week.
02/25/2019 10:44 AMPosted by Mand
It makes it vastly easier to qualify as an amatuer, I’d say.

Instead of grinding ladder for points every month and traveling to tournaments for points every week, you just win one online qualifier. That’s a massive difference in overhead.

Yes, traveling to championships will take some investment, but it’s peanuts compared to doing it nearly every week.


I've been playing since closed beta, I was free to play up to last year.
Two years ago, my team placed top 4 in the Tavern vs Tavern tournament, top 2 went to blizzcon and got a computer.
Last year I won a challenger cup all three seasons and played in all three challenger finals. If I had won one of the 8 playoff spots from the challenger finals, I would have gotten $1k minimum to go to playoffs and wouldn't need my own device.

The allure of potentially qualifying actually prompted me to preorder all 3 expansions and buy the welcome bundle, and I ceased being free to play, because I had the chance to qualify and break even.

Amateurs didn't need to do any ladder grinding whatsoever, they could qualify from their own home, challenger cups happened at all times of day, and professionals were barred from playing in the challenger cups. Now the qualifiers are more time restricted, and you are playing in the same pool of players as the professionals, it is certainly not easier for amateurs to qualify.

Since I don't own a laptop, if I qualified this year, I would have to borrow or purchase a device, pay a large chunk of cash for plane, hotel, and food, and only have a 33% chance of recouping any money whatsoever at the tournament. There is no incentive for amateurs to even go, unless they delude themselves into thinking they will place in the top 1/3rd guaranteed.

I know I'm not the only player demographic, but last year blizzard got over $150 from me because I felt I could reasonably have a chance to win it back, but now this year they are getting $0 from me, because there is no point for me to make that investment.
02/22/2019 09:08 PMPosted by Faldez
The changes to the Hearthstone Esports program this year makes it no longer viable for the average person to enter the tournament circuit.

Part 1: Qualifier Accessibility

Previous years, players could go to a local location and play in a "Tavern Hero" tournament to qualify for a Challenger Final. This has dissolved, local locations no longer have any role in HS Esports.

Previous years, Challenger Cups happened at large variety of times, including night tournaments. Now all Americas Masters Qualifiers start times happen between 8am and 2pm PST. People unable to play during this small 6 hour window are out of luck, there is no variance. They claim you can play in a qualifier "when you want" because the qualifiers for other regions happen at different times. However, realistically the average player does not have a card collection on all three servers. If you live in the Americas and you want to play in a qualifier at night, you need to have a card collection on the Asia server.

Part 2: Cost analysis

Prior year, if you qualified for a play-off, you had to provide your own travel and lodging, but there were a few locations you could choose to go to, you were awarded a minimum of $1000 for last place, and the venue provided a machine for you to play on if you desired.

This year, if you qualify for a master tour, you have to provide your own travel and lodging, there is only ONE location you can go to, which may be on a different continent than you, and will only possibly be on the same continent as you once of the three times it occurs this year. The venue will not have a machine, bring your own, sorry if you don't own a suitable portable device with an Ethernet jack. The minimum award has not been announced, but it is potentially 0$.

What is the most the minimum prize could be?
There are currently 240 master qualifier tournaments scheduled. Each of the three regions will have two ladder tournaments for each Masters Tour where four people will qualify, this is 24 additional players. High HCT point earners from the previous year will be invited. I don't know how many of them there are, but the January Masters Cup had 15 players, so there is a minimum of 15 additional HCT invites.

This is 279 known invites, there are also unknown invites:
Invitations can be granted through "licensed third-party tournaments" such as Dreamhack.
China will grant invitations through the China Gold Series. It is hard to guess how many people from China will be invited, but I assume it will be a considerable number, as in the past they try to make it even with the other three regions. If this was the case, they would be inviting 88 players.

It is safe to say there will probably be a minimum of 300 invites.
The prize pool for a Masters Tour is $250,000. With 300 people, even if first place got the exact same prize as last place (which would never happen), the most money you could give each player would be 0.33% of the prize pool, which comes to $825. Realistically the most last place can hope for is 0.1% of the prize pool ($250).

But wait! They announced that there will be a special purchasable bundle where a portion of the proceeds will increase the prize pool. There will be one promotion, Blizzard will collect the money, decide what percentage they will give to the prize pools, and then divide it by 3. One part for each of the three Master Tour tournaments.

Optimistically, lets say Blizzard deems that the prize pool portion of the bundle promotion is $750,000! This would double the prize pool for each of the three Master Tour tournaments. This would be distributed as a percentage basis to all levels of the base prize pool. Optimistically, the prize for last place has just been raised from $250 to $500.

The average person will now have to pay taxes on that $500 and end up with $375.
The average airfare alone for an intercontinental flight is over $1000, plus pay for room and board, and bring your own device.

Part 3: Conclusion
The average person with a standard job cannot afford the time, nor the money, required to participate in the tournament circuit this year. Blizzard seeks to promote and raise up established professional players while destroying the rungs to reach that level. The dream of Hearthstone glory is dead.

At least it is for me, for an entire year, at a minimum.
with all of the rng, Otks, and polarizing matchups I fail to see how this game could ever be in any major tournament.

Hearthstone should be left for children to play thier rock paper sciccors formats.
By the way, this is actually $300,000 per season less in prizing than last year.

2018 per season:
APAC Playoffs: $100,000
EU Playoffs: $100,000
Americas Playoffs: $100,000
Seasonal Championship: $250,000

2019 per season:
1 Master Tour: $250,000

So I'm really confused how they are giving out "$4 million in prizing up for grabs across the ecosystem in 2019" The only thing they haven't announced is the grandmaster system, which is apparently getting the left over 3.25 million in prizing? That is beyond ridiculously top heavy.
I must say I’m a bit confused. Are you seriously saying that amateurs don’t get paid enough as compared to professionals?

Isn’t that the exact difference in the definition of amateur and professional?
02/25/2019 12:51 PMPosted by Mand
I must say I’m a bit confused. Are you seriously saying that amateurs don’t get paid enough as compared to professionals?

Isn’t that the exact difference in the definition of amateur and professional?


Enough? It's $0.

Years ago you got $100 for going to a playoff, but there were locations all over the place, sometimes multiple per state.

Last year they changed it from several playoff locations to just a few. Only 3 in the united states. However, you got $1000 for going to a playoff.

This year they changed it from a few playoff locations to just ONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, and it rotates to a different region each season, and you get ZERO dollars for going to it.

It's not about amateurs getting ENOUGH, its about amateurs getting ANYTHING. Which would actually be fine, if it was under the system two years ago where you could go to one of several locations that would be somewhat local to you. This year amateurs will have to fly to ANOTHER COUNTRY if they want to play, for ZERO prize.

What merit do you see in this system? I don't understand how you think this is okay, what is the amateur ever hoping to get out of this?
02/25/2019 12:51 PMPosted by Mand
I must say I’m a bit confused. Are you seriously saying that amateurs don’t get paid enough as compared to professionals?

Isn’t that the exact difference in the definition of amateur and professional?


If you seriously think a "professional HS player" HAHAHA, don't make me laugh, has some entitlement to make more money playing the same VIDEO GAME as others???

SMH... now I'm confused...

This isn't a corporation where experience is rewarded, nor is this the NFL where cockiness/athletic skill determines amount of money "to win" etc. This is a:

VIDEO GAME

What world do some of you people come from? This "new-gen" mentality is not as widespread and accepted as some of ya'll think. You are in the minority of personality types in the world, just saying.

Cheers o/
02/25/2019 08:37 AMPosted by TheRiddler
Yeah - seems like a pretty top-down system that favors the favored. Nothing new about that though, alas. You'd think they'd want to give players some sense that they'd be able to 'make it' to these kinds of events rather than actively punishing them even if they do somehow qualify.

02/25/2019 09:04 AMPosted by Schyla
Hearthstone is too heavy on the RNG side to be of any significance in Esports. Yes, some skill is required and helps, but RNG is too prevalent right now.

This is extremely obvious in that these tournaments always end up with a new set of faces. If skill outweighed RNG, you would see more consistency in the players but you don't.

Look at the tournament choose your champion right now. None of those players are familiar at all.

What if this is Blizzard's horribly misguided way of making consistent the people at the top, in a sinister way to increase fan viewership at the expense of those who are not already at the top, all the while pushing a false narrative of challenger accessibility?

02/25/2019 11:58 AMPosted by Faldez
By the way, this is actually $300,000 per season less in prizing than last year.

2018 per season:
APAC Playoffs: $100,000
EU Playoffs: $100,000
Americas Playoffs: $100,000
Seasonal Championship: $250,000

2019 per season:
1 Master Tour: $250,000

So I'm really confused how they are giving out "$4 million in prizing up for grabs across the ecosystem in 2019" The only thing they haven't announced is the grandmaster system, which is apparently getting the left over 3.25 million in prizing? That is beyond ridiculously top heavy.

Wow, that's actually shameful. So there's actually more money involved, they're just being willfully plutocratic to hoist up the pros who are already there!? Giving 2/3 of players who qualify a bill to pay for the top finishing players of the tournament to basically steal their hard-earned time and money for the sake of greed and nothing else. That is not what is in the best interest of the game and player-base, not whatsoever. You don't even need to be that smart not to ruin the good system that was already in place. They are basically taxing the bottom 2/3 of the tournament now and giving it to the top, since they have more than enough money overall in the system. Where the hell is the other $3+ million?? Use a portion of that to compensate the bottom 200 to 300 players out of 400 in the tournament. They can all get the minimum, but it has to be something. Rub a couple brain cells together, Blizzard. Don't bribe the pros and give them a hugely unfair artificial advantage, or every "pro" this year should have an asterisk beside them. Blizzard would be willingly trying to give their game cancer and stifle everyone who hasn't already made a fortune on the game. I think the points system before was bad, but if Blizzard wants to think this is more accessible now then they need to understand that putting the money back into the bottom of the Masters tournament is the only way for there to be any kind of a level playing field.
02/25/2019 09:04 AMPosted by Schyla
Hearthstone is too heavy on the RNG side to be of any significance in Esports. Yes, some skill is required and helps, but RNG is too prevalent right now.

This is extremely obvious in that these tournaments always end up with a new set of faces. If skill outweighed RNG, you would see more consistency in the players but you don't.

Look at the tournament choose your champion right now. None of those players are familiar at all.


CCG tournament play is more about bringing the right decks, knowing the meta, and deck building that actual ability to play.

Once you get to the CCG pros, actual skill means knowing your deck and their matchups rather than in game play skill.
You also left out that pre-selected popular streamers will get auto-bids to the Online Masters as well as "Premier Competition" (where us lowly peasants may not even be allowed to play as far as we know).

"Premier Play
The top tier is a seasonal round-robin online competition, split into regional divisions, featuring the best and most compelling Hearthstone players in the world. It will begin after the HCT World Championship and climax with an epic finale at year’s end. Players who participate in this competition receive performance-based bonuses, as well as automatic invites to all the live global events in the previous tier."

Most Compelling= Popular Streamers that will bring in views.
The thing that gets me is that they are expecting 300+ participants at the bi-monthly "major" LAN events. It might happen, but I'd be surprised if it was even half that all things considered. They have made qualifying for those major events easier with the specialist format, credit where its due, but thats all for nought given the other restrictions they have added like set qualifying times (at least its better than the "wild open" which demand you qualify within the regions server in which you are globally located in, but thats minor).

Yeah, the more I read the T&C's the less I like it, especially when EX-PROS/streamers will be given preferential treatment. Many haven played in well over a month as of now, why do they deserve a free pass?

I say this as someone who is not even remotely in the running. I want to see the best HS has to offer, not those who jump ship when the going gets tough, let alone having those jumping ship being given preferential treatment. Dog, Sjow, Asmo, Savjz, the list goes on - YOU ARE NO LONGER HS PROS and havent been for a LONG time, you need to earn your slot like everyone else.
02/25/2019 09:36 PMPosted by KamChancelor
You also left out that pre-selected popular streamers will get auto-bids to the Online Masters as well as "Premier Competition" (where us lowly peasants may not even be allowed to play as far as we know).

"Premier Play
The top tier is a seasonal round-robin online competition, split into regional divisions, featuring the best and most compelling Hearthstone players in the world. It will begin after the HCT World Championship and climax with an epic finale at year’s end. Players who participate in this competition receive performance-based bonuses, as well as automatic invites to all the live global events in the previous tier."

Most Compelling= Popular Streamers that will bring in views.

Yeah, count me disgusted if they get an auto-bid past the Masters tournament, which would still be too much. Don't get me started on parasite streamers.
02/25/2019 10:08 PMPosted by Bowser
The thing that gets me is that they are expecting 300+ participants at the bi-monthly "major" LAN events. It might happen, but I'd be surprised if it was even half that all things considered. They have made qualifying for those major events easier with the specialist format, credit where its due, but thats all for nought given the other restrictions they have added like set qualifying times (at least its better than the "wild open" which demand you qualify within the regions server in which you are globally located in, but thats minor).

Yeah, the more I read the T&C's the less I like it, especially when EX-PROS/streamers will be given preferential treatment. Many haven played in well over a month as of now, why do they deserve a free pass?

I say this as someone who is not even remotely in the running. I want to see the best HS has to offer, not those who jump ship when the going gets tough, let alone having those jumping ship being given preferential treatment. Dog, Sjow, Asmo, Savjz, the list goes on - YOU ARE NO LONGER HS PROS and havent been for a LONG time, you need to earn your slot like everyone else.

YES
I will find it extremely hard to respect this game and put my hard-earned collection and personal ability to the test if they still give anyone a free pass on the basis of a lame popularity contest and favoritism. That should appall everyone with any humility or modesty. It's more than enough that those lames get paid to play around every day. Let alone the fact that they are trying to pull the rug out and screw 2/3 of a yearly major tournament with a !@#$ing bill, all the while giving a handout to their precious parasitic attention ho's.

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