Blizzard-licensed Good Gaming tournament ends in shambles

Hearthstone has established itself as a premier esport in just one year, catapulting onto the global scene since its launch in March, all capped by a $250,000 tournament at BlizzCon in November

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Hearthstone has established itself as a premier esport in just one year, catapulting onto the global scene since its launch in March, all capped by a $250,000 tournament at BlizzCon in November. One of the final tournaments of the year just ended amidst claims that it was a terrible experience for the players. And now the company behind it has finally delivered its first official statement on the controversy.

The Good Gaming Amateur Open had a lot of promise, with over 1,300 players signed up and $10,000 up for grabs to players who normally wouldn’t have a chance. With an official license from Blizzard and prizes offered to all players who made it into the top 256, things were looking good heading into last weekend.

However, players would claim after the event that it was one of the worst tournament experiences they’ve ever had. One, who goes by Katy Hearthstone, documented her weekend thoroughly, and went so far as to call it a “tournament that should never have happened.”

Her claims? She lists a vast range of issues including:

  • Unclear eligibility rules
  • Entry fee difficulties
  • Consistently missed deadlines, causing delays
  • Long periods of waiting for other matches to end
  • Severe communication issues between admins and players
  • Mid-tournament rule changes
  • Deck list submission problems
  • Some players got to play that didn’t qualify, some that did qualify didn’t get to play

She went on to criticize both the company and CMG Holdings Group, who own Good Gaming.

“It is my firm belief that Good Gaming, Inc. and their staff members should never be allowed to organize an officially sanctioned Hearthstone tournament ever again.”

Those were some serious allegations. But she wasn’t the only one. People commented on her post and on Reddit, echoing the assertions. One post, titled “GOOD GAMING IS FILLED WITH A BUNCH OF IDIOTS,” got over 1,600 upvotes. 

Because the tournament had been licensed by Blizzard, and even promoted on the game’s launcher, many reached out to let them know of the bad experience. Christina “Zeriyah” Sims responded that the company was “keeping an eye” on the feedback it was getting. 

(Sorry, this embed was not found.)We reached out to Good Gaming shortly after the controversy blew up, and late yesterday it provided us with its first statement since the event (which you can read in full here.) It claims that a lot of the issues were unforeseen, and that pulling off the tournament was “not without challenges.” Many of the issue, Good Gaming said, were due to hackers intentionally disrupting the Teamspeak server that the organization was using to communicate with players, along with others impersonating Good Gaming admins on social media networks.

In order to fix these issues, Good Gaming promises to have more automated systems in place by January, and says it will increase staff and make the rules more concise.

The founders of Good Gaming Inc. would like to apologize to anyone believes that they didn’t receive the experience that they were hoping for, and thank the majority of tournament players who, despite some frustrations, appreciate our commitment to the gaming community and cheer us on as we continue to improve our web platform.

Good Gaming will have a chance to redeem iself next year, but this event stands as a statement by the community of what they expect, especially from a tournament licensed by Blizzard. 

For the fans and players, it’s easy to draw comparisons to online poker tournaments, and Magic: the Gathering tournaments, both inspirations for Hearthstone. Katy has competed in numerous tournaments for both of those card games, and to her, the difference is clear: Hearthstone tournaments need more automation. She draws comparisons to the weekly ZOTAC Cup, which regularly has 600-800 players and runs very smoothly. “I think the most important thing of all is for them to get an automated, integrated system in place.”

Until they can do that, she’ll be playing elsewhere.

I do not believe the company is fit for purpose and that Blizzard should retract official sanctioning of GGI Hearthstone tournaments.