HWC Amsterdam: Hearthstone at its Best
After a year of qualifiers, the Hearthstone Championship Tour 2017 has finally finished. This weekend in Amsterdam the 16 best Hearthstone players of the world faced off. The winner Tom managed to come back from 2-0 and beat Frozen 3-2 in the end. It looked like Frozen would win in a 3-0 streak but halfway through the match, his hot streak ended. Tom managed to win three games straight with Frozen not able to get any lucky draws the way he did in the first few matches.
The final day of the Hearthstone World Championship Tour was filled with Hearthstone royalty. Ben Brode, ThijsNL, and all the contestants were in Amsterdam. Especially for ThijsNL this was a home field advantage and he was constantly being talked to and photographed when he was around. Of course, Thijs is the Dutch European Hearthstone Champion from 2015. He, unfortunately, didn’t qualify for the tournament. That didn’t make any difference for his popularity at the tournament.
At the second stage, near the deserted food court, Ben Brode and the other Blizzard devs were talking. They shared their personal story about the way they ended up at Hearthstone and the video game company they all work for. As always, especially Ben Brode is a crowd favorite.
As it turned out the main stage was only opening quite a few hours into the event. That made sure that there was an enormous line of people waiting to get into the main stage area. Getting seated was by no means a guarantee and a lot of people had to resort to a giant screen in the next room.
The event was on a grand scale with a professional broadcasting team running the show. This meant a large boom camera in the middle of the hall and a lot of walkie-talkies that all yelled “big applause guys, big applause” every time the twitch stream came back from commercials.
About that Twitch stream: during the final match between Tom and Frozen the counter was at a 150 thousand viewers. Just so you don’t think that the entire audience was in the main hall ;-). It must have been audible on the stream that the audience was actually quite well informed. Most people in the audience were avid players of Hearthstone themselves. This meant that the oohs and aahs of the audience were often faster than the analysis of the casters.
It shows that the audience was right there with the players. Constantly commenting on the next move that players could or should make. As it turns out the audience knew quite well when a game was over. Even if it was two or three turns away. It’s a testament to the community around this game that they have such dedicated and knowledgeable fans. It also makes for fun watching when you are more of a casual watcher. Because of the outspoken nature of the Hearthstone community, it turns out that you have not two but two hundred casters in the main hall.