HotS esports lead talks about lessons learned in 2016 and the scene's growth

by theScore Staff Jan 23 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Heroes of the Storm's competitive scene has undergone a slew of changes over the last several months, as the Heroes Global Championship new format ushered in a new era for Blizzard's MOBA. Speaking with GamesBeat's Mike "Tolkoto" Minotti, HotS esports lead Sam Braithwaite spoke about the lessons that the esports team learned in 2016 and said that consistency will be a pillar of the competitive scene moving forward.

"Over the course of 2016, we learned quite a few lessons," said Braithwaite. "One big thing that Heroes struggled with was consistency. You could never find Heroes in the same stream or on one website that gives you all the information for what’s happening across the globe. It was very difficult to follow. We decided to step back and readdress what our scene looks like and what we want to accomplish."

One major change made was the implementation of player salaries. According to Braithwaite, teams involved in the HGC are guaranteed to earn at least $100,000 in compensation if they are able to avoid being relegated.

"We felt like, in order for Heroes to grow, we needed to let our players have the peace of mind," he said. "This is a career, a long-term investment. You don't need another job. You can play Heroes full time. We want that for all of our players."

While HotS has seen its share of screen time with ESPN broadcasting Heroes of the Dorm, Braithwaite does not believe the HGC is ready for television audiences.

"We're doing Heroes of the Dorm again this year. We're really excited about it. But for Heroes and HGC, we're not really looking for TV right now," he stated. "We do have our broadcast partners that we'll be pushing toward this year, Facebook and Twitch. I don't see us being on TV for HGC this year, though."

The MOBA industry is saturated with competitive games trying to make it big. Despite the difficult road ahead, Braithwaite believes that by focusing on the community, HotS will find success.

"HGC is built as a foundation to provide stability for the Heroes esports community," said Braithwaite. "Stability and consistency is our main goal for the program, but also, we're going to be trying to dive in this year into creating and building superstars and personalities within the Heroes scene."

HotS suffers from the unique issue of allowing Assassin players to shine while Warrior and Support roles are left behind. Braithwaite hopes that by providing player backgrounds and in-game statistics, the spotlight will be turned toward lesser-known players.

"I'll admit that with Heroes, it's more difficult compared to other MOBAs to really have those standout performances. It's going to be up to us as Blizzard and the HGC and our players to bring these superstars in front of the fans."

Kristine "Vaalia" Hutter is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find her on Twitter.