HearthStone

Hearthstone professional players are watching something they love die right in front of them – and it’s sad.

Disclaimer: I am not saying 'hearthstone is dead', HS is not dead, it's the biggest online card game and will remain so in the forseeable future judging by all market statistics available

In october 2019, blizzard punished the player blitzchung from speaking out during his interview about the hong kong liberation movement. To this day, the interview section of grandmaster has never came back.

In febuary 2020, hearthstone esports was tossed away to youtube as a freebie on top of Overwatch league. This, has caused a 85% viewership decrease, and the grandmaster season final which ended this week had less than 2K people watching.

The hearthstone esports in general is pulling in less views than a micro-sized youtube channel like say, zeddyhs. It's safe to say that over 99% of the playerbase do not watch the esport matches, and that number of people who are interested is only getting smaller.

The decision to take away interview section for good has caused new grandmaster players to be these nameless NPCs that we don't care about – no one knows who the pros are because we never get to hear them talk or express themselves in general. But this hasn't always been this way, we know who thijs is. We know who dog is. We know who kolento is. We know hunterace. We know bunnyhopper. Because hearthstone esports used to mean something, to us, and to blizzard.

A player like Gaby, who won this grandmaster season with an insane 81% winrate, who has dominated the no.1 place on ladder for months at the age of 15, would be a superstar in any other esports. This would be a legendary story if he was, say, a league player, he would have crowds chanting his name on a big stage, he would have in game cosmetics dedicated to his presence. In hearthstone, he's just a bratty kid behind a camera to the 2000 people who barely even know who he is.

We care about esports because we care about games that we love, we know professional are ones who excel and can show brilliance we didn't know were possible. No one cares about hearthstone esports right now. That feels like a sympton of a larger issue.

All this objective obstacles aside, the in game meta isn't helping at all. In the past 2 years alone, we went from box on turn 6 deciding season finales, to generating 30 cards per game, to hour long control games, to now where the player input barely matters in most of the matchups. Warrior can't win against mage, mage can't win against anacondra, anacondra can't win against aggro druid, garrote rogue can't win against glide. So many matchups are solely decided by the decks both players choose.

To the few people who do watch grandmasters, when's the last time a GM player made a play that made you go 'wow'? I remember forsen frostbolting mad scientist for iceblock, then alex next turn and giving rdu the middle finger. I remember thijs pinning himself so opponent cannot put him down to 1 whilst breaking the iceblock, and won precisely because of that play. I watched grandmaster consistently for the past 2 months or so, I cannot recall one play that stood out to me. These are just passtime videos I watch while eating breakfast or taking a shit. Which, I guess is the game the devs wanted hearthstone to be, so they succeded.

Blizzard game esports in general, just feels like an ocean of wasted potential, of player passion destroyed by corporate greed and impotence. It's not just hearthstone, every single blizzard esports suffers the same. I don't expect anything to get better – I just wish the players who are still passionate about professional hearthstone the best on their journey.

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