With a full tournament schedule already started and the game continuing its lightning-fast growth, Hearthstone is showing every sign of having another big year. But over the weekend we saw one downside of that growth: cyberattacks.
The Hearthstats Challenger League, Kinguin Winter and ESL events all found themselves under attack on multiple fronts, with players, casters and organizers all targeted. As a volunteer caster for Hearthstats, I experienced this first-hand, when my and my partner’s streams were effectively knocked offline.
After three days without incident, the final day of the Hearthstats Challenger League on Friday was dogged with problems. The third match of the day saw Thijs “ThijsNL” Moledjik targeted twice. After that match was abandoned, open qualifier “WhevaKevin” was hit with a DDOS attack during the next game on stream. At the same time, my partner and I also experienced repeated connection issues. Eventually, Hearthstats ended the broadcast and completed the games off stream.
On Saturday, the second Kinguin for Charity tournament also fell victim to DDOS attacks, with both Liquid’s Yevgeniy “Neirea” Shumilin and Harold “Powder” Gimre of IHearthU forced to abandon their games. While Gimre was originally disqualified as per the tournament rules on disconnections, organisers eventually decided to postpone the whole tournament for a week.
Even experienced esports organisers could not evade the attackers, as the return of ESL’s King of the Hill was also targeted later on that day.
“There’s not much we can do from an organiser’s point of view,” Jeffrey Tong of Hearthstats told The Daily Dot. “But we’re not able to bring the games to fans who want to watch them without risking players having to get disqualified or forfeit. It’s very frustrating. We’re working to protect ourselves better for our next tournament, and suggest all players do the same.”
Kinguin esports manager Giovanni Varriale had this to add: “It is quite disheartening that things like DDOS are becoming a common issue in online Hearthstone tournaments. It saddens us that we were not able to deliver the highest level of quality. We have given out specific instructions to all the players that were affected by the DDOS in order to provide them with sufficient protection.”
With tournaments of all sizes attacked, including raising money for charity, one thing is clear: 2015 is going to be a rough year for online tournament organizers.
Image via Blizzard