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The short story of HGC and HotS esports

Posted Dec 20, 2018

Heroes of the Storm is one of the most popular MOBA in the world which was developed by Blizzard. Like all other major multiplayer competitive games, the Heroes of the Storm conducted esports tournaments, leagues, and matches. According to the information from December 14th, Blizzard officially discontinued supporting the HGC Professional League and student Heroes of the Dorm. How successful was the short life of HGC and why it was closed — let’s find out.

HotS received its own esports in 2015. However, the competitions became really serious and regular only in 2016 with the start of the HGC Fall Championship 2016. Several huge organizations like Fnatic, Dignitas, and MVP joined the race with their own signed teams. Nevertheless, the peak amount of viewers was not particularly encouraging — 257,243 people simultaneously at maximum with 82,084 viewers were not from China. It was enough to continue the support HGC and esports scene.

Blizzard fully controlled the development of the HotS esports scene, so the company conducted all the major tournaments. That is why the scene was organized with a specific cycle, which reminded League of Legends. Qualifying leagues in all regions, a major mid-season tournament, another qualifying leagues and the main tournament of the year at Blizzcon.

If we compare the most important events of the year: the final of the HGC Fall Championship 2016, the HGC Grand Finals 2017 and the HGC Grand Finals 2018, then you can immediately notice a decrease in the number of the maximum number of viewers — it applies primarily to the Chinese audience. On the other hand, HGC Grand Finals 2018 gathered more viewers not from China compared to last year’s final, and, what is more important, the average number of viewers grew increased by 50%. This fact also applies to Chinese viewers — their average number has also grown. It indicates that HotS started to gather more active players and viewers who were interested in esports. That is why it is not entirely correct to talk about HotS started to attract fewer viewers.

Blizzard had some partners in Asia who helped the company to spread the game in the region: NetEase in China and OnGameNet in South Korea. Gold Series Heroes League tournaments were especially popular in 2018 — they gathered a lot of viewers at the peak. Unfortunately, the second season gathered more viewers than the third, it also applies to the average number of spectators. One of the key reasons was the reluctance of the largest Chinese organizations with huge fan bases to sign teams in this discipline.

Summarizing, we can say that Heroes of the Storm definitely didn’t meet the expectations and didn’t become a popular esports discipline. Nevertheless, the game gathered around a loyal audience and annually gathered more and more viewers on average. In general, given the abundance of sponsors and professional teams that have signed up professional HotS teams, the decision of Blizzard to stop supporting esports seems strange. Most likely, the company does not want to invest resources in something that does not have far-reaching prospects or the possibility of serious competition with the giants of the esports industry.

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