Heroes Global Championship (HGC) is without a doubt one of the premier competitive gaming tournaments, and for good reason. The atmosphere is always electric, even for those viewing at home, with outstanding casters commentating on the action, and the matches themselves delivering on the hype. Case in point, the HGC Western Clash just concluded in epic fashion, as Team Diginitas easily decimated the competition, sweeping each match up and taking the 2018 HGC Western Clash Championship in dominating fashion. The competition has been intense this year, with some amazing matches that have taken place, giving the fans and competitors a good idea of how the HGC Finals will be once Blizzcon 2018 arrives. But just how far has HGC come in the world of esports? To better understand this, mxdwn Games sat down with the HGC Product Lead, John Teymoorian to talk about how HGC has kept pace with the ever evolving world of competitive gaming.
mxdwn: First question, your official title is the HGC Product Lead, so what are your actual duties on a day to day basis?
John Teymoorian: Well it can vary from day to day, but my core objective is to make sure that we’re delivering the most exciting entertainment experiences for audiences around Heroes of the Storm esports.
mxdwn: The esports scene is arguably bigger than it has ever been. The HGC is a huge part of that with thousands of viewers coming to arenas as well as viewing on Twitch every time their is a tournament. How would you describe the current state of HGC in the esports world today?
Teymoorian: It’s really exciting right now. We’re growing. Our hours watched, for example, is up 20% over last year, and at our most recent LAN event, we’re at 100% improved in viewership over the prior year. The game team is releasing lots of cool game content. We’re continuing to bring pro players and talent from around the world an add some new flair to the casting desk. We’re doing cool initiatives like the Twitch Cheer Program for 2018, and it’s new and improved with more varied rewards that are relevant to whats going on in the league, like caster and hero emotes, so basically more ways and more reasons to cheer for all the fans for all their favorite teams. We have other initiates like the Twitch Drops Programs to reward our loyal viewers for their time for watching our broadcasts, and we’re giving out loot boxes and also unlocked accounts. I think for this most recent program that were running during the Eastern and Western Clash, we’re giving away three unlocked accounts each day at random, so those are accounts where every hero through Whitemane are unlocked. So you basically get every hero for free.
mxdwn: That’s one heck of a reward!
Teymoorian: Yeah, so there’s a lot of cool things that we are doing and our viewership is up, and the game has been doing really well. The game team has a lot of cool new content that’s coming out, and we have Blizzcon coming pretty soon here and then we’ll have announcements for 2019.
mxdwn: Speaking of Blizzcon, that’s a popular event that people always look forward to each year. That’s also where the HGC Finals take place. Is there anything coming up close to Blizzcon, at Blizzcon, and into next year that you can share with us?
Teymoorian: So the HGC Finals is broken out into two stages essentially. There’s Blizzcon Opening Week that’s taking place here at The Blizzard Arena, Los Angeles, and it’s October 25-28. So, we basically listened to the fans and they were saying like ‘Hey, make HGC Finals better, we love Mid-Season Brawl’, so what we did is that we listened, and we’re bringing the two groups of six round robin to the Opening Week. So, I think tickets are still on sale, and you can buy tickets for the full 4-day show now on our website. We’re going to bring that, and then we have the bracket stage, which is a single elimination tournament with the top 8 teams at the Anaheim Convention Center for Blizzcon proper. We have our Crucible coming up in between then, and we’ll have more to talk about for 2019 around then.
mxdwn: Yeah people always look forward to Blizzcon.
Teymoorian: Yeah, it’s super exciting! I think its the hypest moment for Heroes of the Storm at the end of the year.
mxdwn: What other ideas have you come up with to keep HGC relevant in esports?
Teymoorian: We’re doing lots of different things. We’re creating new content. We just launched the HGC Minute this year, and it’s basically a recap show of everything that’s happening globally in HGC. So, if you cant tune in to the HGC Korea or the HGC China Matches, then you can get your update every week on Tuesday. We launched HGC Insider recently, which basically pulls back the curtain on the Heroes of the Storm HGC competitive players and the league, so check that out. Beyond that, we have lots of other new content pieces that we’re creating right now to see what is the most exciting for our audience, and that will kinda help us develop what our content portfolio is for next year. We’re in the process of going through all of the feedback that we’ve received from the community and all of our player. Earlier this year, we spent about two hours with each team. There’s 32 teams, so that’s over 60 hours of interviewing all of the teams and getting feedback on everything from schedules, to format, to rules. We’re collating all of that feedback, and running through a bunch of different ideas of what we can do for 2019 to make good on some of those requests.
mxdwn: The schedule for HGC has teams traveling around the world all the time. You said that you have received some feedback for that, so what type of feedback did you get from teams and members of the community?
Teymoorian: Before we launched HGC, the program before, Heroes of the Storm esports, was a completely different place. I think the only time players would play international teams, like North American vs Korea or Europe, was I think at Blizzcon. So you’ve been playing all year, and then finally you would play international teams. So, some of the feedback was that we want to do this more often, this should happen earlier in the year. That’s how we launched the Clashes and the Mid-Season Brawl. Now, after a year and a half of doing that, the feedback has been more along the lines of like ‘Hey is there a way to have more regional rivalries?’ So basically, intro-region rivalries, and can we get all of the teams from the region out to a LAN? We’re also looking at ways to improve our promotion of the Open Division and seeing if there are ways that we can make the Crucible something bigger than it is right now, which is online broadcasts. There’s a lot of different things that we’re talking about, so we’re still going through that exploration phase. We’re doing lots of different things to better promote our program like having more editorial content, more video content, and promoting it through the Battle.net Launcher. There’s a lot of different things that we’re doing.
mxdwn: Last Question, and this doesn’t necessarily pertain to just HGC. Recently, the International Olympic Committee and the Global Association of International Sports Federations held and esports Forum for many representatives from the gaming community. Blizzard was there as well, including some professional Blizzard players, for the purpose having competitive gaming at the Olympics. What are your thoughts on that possibly becoming a reality?
Teymoorian: I think for right now, the focus for me is making sure that HGC is delivering on its promise to fans. I’m more focused on what is right here, right now, on what the players need, and what the organizers need to be successful. I think once I can deliver on that, then I’ll probably look at more of the other opportunities beyond that. It’s really complex, and I would need more time to formulate what that means. The core focus for me right now is how do I make sure that the players can continue to do this as a full time job? How can I make sure that the organizers that are currently invested with the HGC can be successful in the long run? How can I help bring in more sponsorships for our teams that aren’t currently sponsored. The players and our audience are my number one focus right now.
mxdwn: That’s it John, thank you so much, and thank you for your time!
Teymoorian: Yeah, no problem!
The HGC schedule continues with the Eastern Clash taking place in Incheon, South Korea from August 17-19. Following that will be the HGC Playoffs, the HGC Crucible, and finally the 2018 HGC Finals which takes place at Blizzcon 2018.
(Image provided by Blizzard Entertainment)