Hearthstone esports product manager Alex Charsky discusses the relocation of Masters Tour Indonesia

We caught up with Charsky about the difficult decision to relocate.

Photo via Blizzard Entertainment

The Masters Tour is the grandest stage that Hearthstone esports has to offer. But Blizzard is faced with a difficult decision concerning the upcoming Masters Tour slated for Indonesia.

Blizzard has decided to relocate Masters Tour Indonesia to Los Angeles due to a variety of concerns surrounding the international coronavirus situation. The company said it wanted to ensure the safety of its players, staff, and anyone else who might be involved with Masters Tour.

The event will now take place at the Next Generation Esports studios in Los Angeles. This will be the second Masters Tour event of 2020 and it’ll take place from March 20 to 22. Over 300 players from around the world will be invited to participate, each competing for their share of a $3 million total prize pool for 2020—a purse that the players helped boost by purchasing the recent Dragon Masters Bundle.

Blizzard will also be providing $250 to all qualified competitors who need to rebook their travel to Los Angeles if they’ve already secured flights to Indonesia. Players will simply need to submit documentation showing their rebooking.

Hearthstone esports product manager Alex Charsky talked with Dot Esports about the difficult decision to move Masters Tour Indonesia to Los Angeles.

Coronavirus is becoming a global issue. What were some of your concerns around coronavirus that led to this change?

Charsky: Well, you’re absolutely right that coronavirus is a worldwide concern and it’s a concern we share with the global community. This is an outbreak of infectious disease and that means we have to be careful. I think you are seeing various reactions across the world of global companies and organizations attempting to mitigate some of the risks to the safety and well-being of their employees, their customers, and anyone else who could potentially be affected by this global outbreak. For us, the largest factors of concern are for the safety of our players and the safety of our staff as they continue to participate in our worldwide events. So ensuring their safety was the primary motivation for us to cancel and reschedule Masters Tour Indonesia.

That seems reasonable when you consider we’re talking about something so dangerous.

We feel like we have an obligation to our players and to our staff to ensure that while we can’t eliminate the entirety of the risk… I don’t want to come across as, “Oh hey, we solved this,” but we are certainly doing our part in mitigating some of the risks while striking a careful balance of still being respectful to the amount of work that the players do in order to qualify for these events. It would have been very easy for us to just say “hey, listen, this is canceled…” but instead of canceling the event outright, we worked with a new production partner on a very tight and aggressive deadline to secure a new location for these players who have spent a lot of time and effort qualifying for this event. This way, they still have an opportunity to compete for their share of the $3 million that we get to give away for the six events in 2020.

What can you say about the decision to work with Next Generation Esports?

Next Generation Esports will be our broadcaster partner and the venue partner for the upcoming Masters Tour Los Angeles. We’ve actually been working with NGE for at least two years now. They sort of pride themselves on operating in the background. You never hear their name, but you’ve seen their work on a number of broadcasts in the past. Most recently, NGE helped with the Battleground event that we did with a number of streamers and other notable personalities. They’ve also helped with the unveiling of some sets as far back as 2018. They’re incredibly knowledgeable in the space and have worked with a number of organizations in our industry. I’m very confident that they can execute our vision and balance the additional concern for the safety of our players.

Sometime in the future when things with the virus have hopefully died down, would you be interested in returning to Indonesia for an event?

Yes. Unequivocally. I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank our partner in Indonesia, AKG Games, and the Salim Group. They’ve been incredibly understanding and I’ve recently had a number of very difficult conversations with them obviously, and letting them know what our plans are going forward. They’re understandably disappointed, but they understand why we made this decision. It is definitely my hope and our goal to resume conversations with them about opportunities in the future and to run an event in Indonesia. Speaking on behalf of the team, we were very excited to have an event there and it is just a very unfortunate situation.

This is clearly a difficult situation. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Hearthstone community?

I just want to say we are trying to strike a balance of being safe while also being respectful of the work that people have done to qualify for this event and to still hold the event. I know that this decision is not perfect in the eyes of an individual and I want to acknowledge that obviously people’s plans will be disrupted. I think it’s important to acknowledge that. Like you said, we were in a difficult position. I think this is the right course of action for our programs to sort of balance the need to protect our players and staff and to also be respectful to the work that goes into these events.