The Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) World Championships are currently underway in Amsterdam (you can check out our round-up of the first day right here), and during our time in the Netherlands we spoke with franchise lead for Hearthstone Esports Che Chou, who appreciated the surprise results of the first day.
"I think it's a really great reflection of 2017, because if you look at the field we have the sort of classic dominant powerhouses like the Neireas or Kolentos that are here, but we also have these real newcomers that have come out of practically nowhere and surprised people with how good they are," he said. "Like yesterday, SamuelTsao from Taiwan upset, beat Muzzy, beat Kolento - it was pretty insane - and also we have the Docpwns who, not a classic Hearthstone competitive esports guy but able to take down folks like Tom."
We also talked about the changes made to the Hearthstone Championship Tour this year (which you can read here). "I would say it's been really positive and exciting," he said. "2017 was a year where we did a lot of experimentation and did a lot of new things, but it was also a year that we listened a lot to the community. I think somewhere halfway through the year, TJ who's on my team, who's also a caster - he spends a lot of time talking to the community directly about 'what do you like about HCT? What are some of your pain points?', and I think we collected a lot of data on that listening tour. We also just looked at our own internal data about how our players qualify for playoffs for HCT."
"So we sort of cross-referenced all of that and the biggest takeaways were 'hey, super painful to grind these online cups' that are sort of an infinite source of points. It's a points economy, but everyone has to do it - it's an arms race. Also, 'frustrating that we don't know if we've qualified for playoffs', because it's kind of a moving target, because we didn't set a threshold [...] also, there's comments about prizing, which prizing was better, so we wanted to really address some of those complaints from the community, and I think - we'll see how it goes - but I think I'm really happy with what we've come up with for 2018."
When we asked Chou about the event as a whole, he said: "This is definitely our best and biggest event yet, the most epic Hearthstone event we've ever done, and I couldn't be prouder of the team that put it together."
Have you been enjoying the World Championships so far?