Four teams will combat each other in Blizzard’s upcoming multiplayer online battle arena game. The curious thing is that none of those four teams actually exist… yet.
Esports giants Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, and Team Liquid will all send teams to the event, reads the announcement, but none of those organizations actually have Heroes of the Storm teams under their banners.
That may not be too surprising considering the game just entered the last phase of its alpha, not even beta, and is not readily available to the public, but a thriving esports scene has already grown from the alpha. Major organizations like SK Gaming and Mousesports already signed teams, while many esports stars from a variety of games, like Greg “IdrA” Fields of StarCraft fame, are actively competing.
It’s also quite possible the four major organizations have teams in the works, and were just waiting for this announcement to reveal them, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case based off the murmur from the current Heroes of the Storm community. After waiting with bated breath for an expected announcement regarding BlizzCon competition, established teams and players seemed blindsided by the reveal.
@SolidJakeGG to my knowledge none of them actually exist
— Greg Fields (@idra) October 8, 2014
— Greg Fields (@idra) October 8, 2014
That leaves a couple possibilities. Blizzard wanted professional organizations to showcase their game, so they offered spots to the teams and left it up to them how to fill the roster. The teams may just be waiting for the right moment to announce who is playing for them—though that sounds unlikely based on the reaction from community insiders—or they may not have done the research to decide which teams they want to pick up.
Considering the kind of effort and research that goes into signing a team onto these top brands, in some ways that seems unlikely. While there are regular community tournaments and a league going on, a game in technical alpha hasn’t even been exposed to enough players yet to really see just who is good at the game. Or good at representing a major organization.
Plus, it gives organizations an undue amount of leverage on signing players—they have the BlizzCon spot, so they can pick who gets it. The players have little say in the matter.
Evil Geniuses, for their part, has revealed they will in fact be adding a full Heroes of the Storm team.
Another option hinges on the word “exhibition.” All four teams, save Team Liquid, whose Dota 2 squad finally finished its decimations this past week, host popular professionals teams in other MOBA titles.
@Slasher As someone who lives and breathes the Heroes community, this seems incredibly likely at this point in time.
— Jake Kulinski (@SolidJakeGG) October 8, 2014
That means we could potentially see Jack “EternaLEnVy” Mao and Kai “H4nn1” Hanbueckers duke it out in a Tassdar vs. Arthas matchup. Though the more interesting option may be a mix of the two—Mao battling against a Fields once again donning the Evil Geniuses blue, Fields’ Falstad flying into the team fight only to eat a perfectly timed Stiches hook from Pittner “b0ne7” Armand. One potential snag to that plan would hit the popular League of Legend squads in Cloud9 and Fnatic.
Of course it’s more likely Fields’ team would trash the Dota 2 stars—they’ve got months of experience on the other guys.
Whatever happens, the announcement is a bit historic. No major esports teams have ever taken a synchronized dive into a new game title quite like this, and as the announcement says, this will be the first ever official Heroes of the Storm event. The first of many more to come, if the early adoption by key franchises is any indication. The esports scene seems to be embracing the game big.
The top four MOBA games on the market—League of Legends, Dota 2, Smite, and Heroes of Newerth—are all major esports titles, so it’s no surprise Blizzard would push Heroes of the Storm to be the same. It’s a little surprising that major teams would toss their hat into the ring so early, when the game is still in alpha. Much will change before the title’s release, but now it’s clear esports will be along for the ride.