September 17th saw the exit of Team Dignitas from Hearthstone. Dignitas has been one of the few organisations with investments and teams in many esports categories. They had on their Hearthstone Roster; Lewis Spencer (Blackout).
“I think they just weren’t happy with the way the game developed, I would say, like the game’s professional scene developed compared to… in the way that a lot of the stuff matters around publicity and streaming and stuff and outside of HCT,” Blackout said. “If you’re just paying players, you’re not really getting that great value. I don’t think we even had particularly bad results.”
“We were like, ‘okay, it’s probably best if we just sort everything as quickly as possible and then just look for a new organization before James played the Last Call.’ So we just got everything done and dusted as quick as possible, got formally released, and then yeah. It is what it is I suppose.”
Dignitas Manager , mepH;
“The game and community centers very much around the individual, the teams don’t matter as much,” mepH said. “You may have 30K people watching your player on stream but the only benefit you have as a team is people forming a vague connection, ‘yeah, I think he plays for team X.’ Teams really don’t matter in the game, there are no team competitions. Basically, unlike most other games we’ve been involved with, Hearthstone felt like you were sponsoring individuals, not signing team members.”
The players however have still not been able to find a team even after a span of 2 months. Despite good results, there just does not seem to be the same level of interest and excitement from organisations about sponsoring a Hearthstone team.
“I think at the minute, the way the Hearthstone scene is structured, it’s not particularly profitable to be just a good player of the game, I don’t think that’s enough. I think the way it is right now, with the lack of actual big opens and stuff outside of DreamHacks and the way the current HCT system is, it doesn’t make it reliable enough to just be good at the game. You have to be producing content and streaming and stuff, so like personally, I don’t like streaming and stuff that much.”
The disillusionment with the professional Hearthstone scene is something that has definitely been noticed by Valve. They have implemented sweeping changes in the 2017 Hearthstone championship. Whether these changes are enough or not is something that we will learn as time passes by.
“On the cost side, the open format of events means you have to invest a lot of money into sending players around the world, barely any event covers any cost,” mepH said. “On the value side, let’s be honest, the game is very random, so that doesn’t help when your investment is disproportionately (compared to other games) dependent on luck.”
Another major reason for the lack of interest on the part of the Dignitas management seems to stem from a monopoly on the market by G2A.
“What happened is Kinguin and G2A came in with a lot of money and then G2A kinda beat Kinguin, so Kinguin was kinda just gone and then G2A was like, ‘well, now that we are dominating the scene we don’t have to pay everybody so much anymore’, and because of that we started paying Hearthstone players a lot, and now that the money is gone we can’t support it anymore and that’s what happened.”
We at esportsjunkie hope that Blizzard institutes changes to the professional Hearthstone scene. Hearthstone has some loyal fans all over the world who love their professional role models. As such it is disheartening to see the lowering interest in the professional scene. While its unviable for organisations and sponsors to potentially invest without much of an ROI ( Return on Investment ) we hope that with Blizzardś changes to the game, more and more investment comes into Hearthstone.