Over the weekend, Good Gaming Inc. hosted a tournament that had been advertised through social media such as twitter, on some hearthstone community sites and even the Blizzard battle net client. This was a tournament that had a $10,000 prize pool and was open to anyone that has not received $5,000 from any event or contest in the recent years of playing Hearthstone and lives in an area where laws to do restrict them from participating. This was to allow amateur players to rise to the occasion and claim a big prize pool for themselves rather than competing with professional players of the scene. The entry fee for this tournament was $5.00, which paid for a month of membership on the Good-Gaming site.
There were three portions to this large tournament that spanned the entire three day weekend which included two qualifiers and the main tournament. The qualifier A and qualifier B took place on Friday and Saturday respectively, while the main tournament took place on Sunday. Players were put into the qualifier of their choice. The format of the qualifiers were a swiss format in which the first 128 players to reach 5 round wins advanced onto the main event, this meant that 256 players in total entered the single elimination on Sunday. All matches were best out of fives.
Premonition of Imminent Disaster
Many people had problems registering for the tournament as the Good-Gaming website used Square which requires information of a person from United States of America to process. This tournament was advertised to be international as long as you had a North American account to play on. What I didn’t understand was why Paypal wasn’t put up as an option to begin with as it is easily accessible to many people and is a fairly common payment option for online goods. On Thursday a payment options for international players finally appeared, this was two days before the qualifiers. With a couple days before the qualifiers remaining many waited on emails containing the information we needed for the tournament such as how to sign up for qualifiers, procedures and regulations, Teamspeak information. Many did not receive the email until late Thursday evening or early Friday morning. Many players including myself have sent out tweets and emails to Good Gaming asking about the qualifier email.
The website stated that the tournament would start at 4 PM Pacific, however the Challonge bracket stated 5 PM Pacific. Many players were in a state of confusion, there were a lot of reports for no shows, most people finished their round one games and were waiting for round two until suddenly the bracket got wiped. Moments later the bracket got deleted from Challonge. If you weren’t in the Teamspeak server at the time you wouldn’t have known what was going on because there was no warning outside Teamspeak not even a single email. Many players were locked out of Teamspeak due to the servers being full. Personally when I tried accessing the Google document with the qualification information to look server information it was locked and stated that I needed to request for access. Two new brackets were made eventually the first containing 256 players and the second containing 88 players. There were some players complaining after the brackets started that they never received any warning or information and now they were left in the dust. The brackets started at around 6 PM with a fresh start. There were many long waits in between rounds with players AFKing in between. Halfway into round 6 it was already 2 AM and the admin stated in the Teamspeak that the brackets were messing up and her computer has been on for 24 hours and is starting to mess up as well. The admins decided to cut the qualifiers short and stated that everyone should email them our battletags and email and if we had “decent scores” we may get a chance to fill up spots for Sunday. We were told that decent scores may even include 2-3 players but not 1-4 players. As well the email for qualifying were supposed to be sent around Saturday evening, however, it ended up being sent Sunday morning.
I don’t have that many details about this qualifier on Saturday as I do on Friday but from what I heard from other players it was just as chaotic as ours. They went through with the qualifier as they started at an earlier time, however, the swiss tournament ended just as late. This put many of the players at a disadvantage as the main tournament was due to start at 12 PM PST.
This was the main event, a single elimination bracket that contained 256 players. Deck lists were to be sent in text format to the tournament email. Many people were sending image formats and admins threatened to kick them out of the tournament if they did not send it in text format. From talking to a lot of players, many people sent in image format as they received the email late and had no idea what was going on and in the chaos just sent a deck list so they could participate in the tournament. Players later corrected their deck lists as we were waiting on the 256 players to check in instead of starting on time. I saw the bracket link and Teamspeak password being passed around in twitch chat of the tournament channel by players which meant that a lot of the players did not receive the email or got in without having to pay or go through qualifiers. Some players who went 4 wins or 5-0 did not receive the email or were not able to enter. In the end, 223/256 players showed up and checked in and the tournament was started. Instead of Challonge like in the qualifiers, Xfire was used instead. Teamspeak was chaotic as admins were trying to get people to add their game id onto their Xfire profiles, players were starting their matches. It was honestly pretty distracting to play and be in Teamspeak at the same time, however all of the instructions were given verbally. As round one matches came to a close, players were reporting their scores wrong. Some were reporting as individual games, others reported the match as a whole. Admins told the players to report the match as a whole, meaning if you went 3-0 you would put 3-0 instead of 1-0, 1-0 and 1-0 into the system. When players reported different the system didn’t recognize each player was trying to say the same thing so the brackets did not update unless the administrators did it themselves. As rounds progressed more and more players were being knocked out of the bracket and things got a bit less chaotic and quieter. The main bracket was a lot more smooth compared to the qualifiers the held the two previous days. Players decided to distribute the prize pool more evenly in the top four places of the tournament. In the end Phenomenon, Phonetap, Wonderware and Rupyness took first through fourth respectively.
Many fake accounts were popping up over Reddit impersonating admins and Good Gaming. Many of the participants were blowing off steam on Reddit and talking about what the experienced. Many were not impressed about the fact that such a big tournament was so poorly organized and executed. This definitely left a bad impression on Good Gaming as a company. Many people were more confident in signing up for the tournament due to it being on the battle net client which means that Blizzard supports the tournament.
Authors Suggestions For Future Events
If they are hosting more tournaments, I don’t know how many people will actually sign up this time. However, there are a few key things they could look to improve on. They should have tested out their main communication tool, this time being Teamspeak. They should’ve put time before the event to learn how to administrate it, what everything does, find out its errors and try to work towards fixing it up before a disaster happens. Players would prefer IRC chats instead of Teamspeak as listening to admins give information verbally while playing can be really distracting. This causes players to just outright mute until they’re done and they miss the information. Compared to IRC it can easily be copy pasted or scrolled back up to see the important information. Challonge and Xfire should have tested as well so problems with reporting score, check in and setting up the brackets would not be a problem. Having a meeting before the event as an admin team to make sure everyone knows what they are responsible for, everyone seemed all over the place and if your administration team doesn’t know what is going on the players won’t either.