The MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre has roped in an extremely large and fervent following, courtesy of big-name giants League of Legends (LoL) and Dota 2. In 2015, Blizzard decided to venture into the market with Heroes of the Storm (HotS), which eventually spawned its own competitive league called the Heroes Global Championship, abbreviated to HGC within the community.
After a short two-year run, Blizzard has brought it to an abrupt end, sparking anger in many of the players and organisations involved in the tournament. In their announcement post, it was confirmed that any HotS-related esports competitions will cease operations for 2019, with professionals, coaches, and casters expressing disappointment and indignation over the news:
Fuck you, honestly. Working 6 hard months with new fantastic teammates for this shit. Radio silence for weeks. I sent multiple email and all i got back was that they are working on finalizing the details.
— Lauber (@JohanLauber) December 14, 2018
2 months ago I won the crucible in a super intense and heartbreaking series, then left in the cold water for 2 month just to get a big fucking fuck you
— Cris (@CrisHeroes) December 14, 2018
Sure, there’s frustration over the loss of a profession, but the main source of the outrage is the last-minute cancellation on Blizzard’s part, which invalidates all the effort put into preparing for the next season. The Crucible, in particular, is an extremely relevant example – the twice-a-year tournament serves as a way for players to secure a place in the HGC, the last of which was held in October 2018.
Another major point of contention is covered in the video above, when Tempo Storm HotS coach Kala mentions how he was told by “Blizzard employees at Blizzcon” that the HGC was going to continue its run into 2019 with nearly the same funding. The lack of responsibility and accountability aside, the sudden cessation is also especially unfair to the esports community, who has clocked in hours and hours of preparation training under false hopes.
Kala addresses more of his sentiments in the rest of the reel, with PC Gamer highlighting his justifications for anger:
It’s absolute BS. It’s so awful. There’s so many teams and players that have put their heart and soul into this game and have developed livelihoods around this game – I mean, myself included, but not even talking about the teams that have worked their ass off all f–ing year to beat teams out in Crucible to have their opportunity to play in the HGC, pick up new f–ing sponsors, and now all of a sudden everything just gets pulled out from underneath them?
The nature of esports is understandably unpredictable and can be rather short-lived, so perhaps the act of termination may not come as a surprise to some. That doesn’t excuse the unsympathetic comments that have sprouted since, however, with some stating how HotS already showed signs of a dying community, and others displaying sarcasm and disdain over the players’ whining of the situation.
There’s indeed some truth to the above observations: Blizzard’s title never did reach the heights of LoL and Dota 2, with watered-down mechanics making it more of a fit among the casual audience, but it was more accessible and backed up by a sizeable number of passionate individuals. Being forced out of the competitive scene is not a new concept as well, and individuals have managed to bounce back or dabble in other esports-related areas.
Rather, what’s truly the issue here – the one that’s incurring the wrath of those in the competitive circuit – is about Blizzard’s sudden decision to drop all HotS esports events without prior warning and the false promise of future opportunities.
This whole fiasco is, obviously, disastrous for everyone involved, and yet again demonstrates how a publisher’s influence can affect the esports scene of a title. It has already happened to HotS, and it could happen again for other esports games under the team.
We definitely hope not, though.