Changes to HGC Phase 2: More teams in BlizzCon and no region restrictions
In the first part of our chat with Heroes esports lead Sam Braithwaite, we talked about his thoughts on Phase 1 of HGC, but as we look to the future moving into Phase 2, Sam gives us some insight on the announcements we saw today.
BlizzCon just got bigger
Blizzard is upping the number of major-region teams going to BlizzCon from two to three. So instead of 12 or so teams, the largest international tournament of the year just got bigger, with 16 total teams competing. Because of this, Heroes fans will see a four-day opening week before the HGC finals including four groups of four with the top two moving on to a single elimination, so 8 teams, single elimination, best of 5 all the way through.
Restructuring regional restrictions
Currently, if you want to compete in HGC, you have to reside in your respective region for at least six months to participate. Blizzard is completely erasing that going into Phase 2. Players from a minor region (ANZ, LatAm, SEA, TW) can now move to a major region (China, Europe, Korea, or North America) and vice versa, however if players choose to move from major region to major region, they must live there six months before they are allowed to compete.
"One of the things we’re starting to realize is that six months is blocking off talent from regions we don’t want." Braithwaite told us, "It’s unrealistic for us to expect a team from Latin America to move to North America, live there for six months, then go through the Open Division. That would mean a whole year before receiving any compensation."
Improving talent transactions: Release, Acquisition, and Approval
This new HGC format is unlike anything Heroes esports has attempted and while roster changes are inevitable in any type of format, Blizzard is attempting to make changes that alleviate the issues. There will now be a release period structured as; Release, Acquisition, and Approval. After the HGC finals teams will be in a 10-day release period where rosters are required to release any players they wish. Before they can pick up any new players they have to publicly announce the previous releases.
Release - November 6-13
Acquisition - November 14-21
Approval - November 22-23
Braithwaite tells us they hope this change will help with roster stability going on. "This release period basically allows players to go out and find their own jobs fairly. One of the things we're seeing is not all HGC teams are organizations with somebody who's making roster changes for the benefit of the organization. Instead, we have a group of friends or a group of players that have to make tough decisions and kick people without a safety net. Running a league is tough. There’s a lot of things we don’t expect and I think for competitors this is something new as well. Learning from this, we changed the number of roster changes a team can make from one to two."
Improvements to Tiebreakers
Previously, Tiebreakers unfolded like this:
Match – Head to head – # of 3-0’s – # of 3-1’s – Tiebreaker
While going into phase two, they will now be decided as a win percentage such as:
Match – Head to head – game’s score as win percentage – Tiebreaker
"The way we designed the HGC is very, very, different than any other league in esports." Braithwaite explains, "The HGC is designed so that every match matters. The difference between being 5th and being 4th is astronomical, that’s one less series you have to play. Since every match is important and we want to respect that when it comes to tiebreakers, we want the team that is better proven statistically to take priority ahead of any tiebreaking match."
Key changes for the Open Division Playoffs: 8-team double elimination over three days
As GosuGamers previously announced with the next phase of Open Division, the play-offs will now be set with eight teams instead of 16, with a double elimination format over three days.
"No more playing at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m." added Braithwaite, "We want to make sure these guys are playing at their prime. We also think using double elimination with eight teams over three days is the fairest thing to do. On top of that, we’ll be re-adjusting the point system as an incentive for teams to stick together. We’ll also be looking to utilize the tournament realm within the HGC open division, providing teams the opportunity when need be to use that instead of playing on a different patch. Our goal is that no tournament, whether HGC or Open Division, have day one and day two on different patches."
"These are the immediate changes, and while smaller, we think they hit on the pain points that people are having right now. We have a much MUCH larger list of things that we are going to rollout in 2018 that fix a lot of the long-term issues people are having."