HCT feedback response
Preface: whole thing written on phone keyboard. Excuse typos and autocorrects.
I'll specifically answers some questions/comments I've heard repeatedly today below, but I'll start anecdotally. I tuned into the Play HS stream today while working to catch a minute of Twitch chat thoughts (lol) on the show. When i did, it was during a complex Reno mirror turn Kibler was breaking down in which he mentioned the merits of casting an in-hand abyssal enforcer that turn. I saw a viewer asked in chat "what's an abyssal enforcer?"
If I could sum up a lot of the answers to the feedback we got, it's that HCT broadcasts are as much if not more so about the guy asking what an abyssal enforcer as the guy who's sitting at home capable of critiquing high level play himself. TV isn't just about pleasing die-hard viewers, it's about attracting new viewers. Ignoring the wants and needs of casuals isn't an option. I'm a die-hard myself. I get the frustration with that. Now that you have a thesis, I'll talk a few specifics.
WHY THE SAME FACES REPEATEDLY?
There are a few players you could use as examples, but to simplify things, I'm only going to talk about Thijs to answer this. Understand that he's a metaphors for the "haves" here.
In round one, when you put Thijs's face on camera, an extra 1,000+ ppl tune in that don't really care about competitive HS but like Thijs. In theory, some of those viewers might even stick around and give HCT a watch that wouldn't have otherwise. I don't think there's any reason to defend starting with Thijs.
Part of why he kept coming up is as simple as viewership goes up. Part of why that happened is we got an interview with Thijs and so we had media pieces to show to fill dead air and smoothen the show (and hopefully you enjoyed them and laughed and smiled) said . Part of why that happened is the sentiment among the producers that watching ppl on the brink of elimination makes for the most compelling TV, and Thijs skirted the brink of elimination all day. If he lost a third time, he wouldn't have come up again. Realistically, he's a big name at 3-2 and fighting for his tournament life. He still is, so guess what? I'm willing to bet a pretty penny he's going to be in a feature match first thing tomorrow.
WHY 2-2 VS 2-2 OVER 4-0 VS 4-0?
Kinda just touched on this, but again, the prevailing sentiment seems to be edge of elimination more interesting than undefeateds. I completely and totally disagree, but I'm also working with/for half a dozen 2-time, 3-time, and 7+-time Emmy award winning sports broadcast producers. Maybe edge of elimination featuring works better in sports than in Esports. Maybe it works better in other Esports than it does in Hearthstone. Maybe we have a vocal minority and these industry standouts know better than I do what the casual viewer (again, the largest and most important junk of the viewership) wants in a broadcast. I don't know. What I do know is I would have liked to see ShtanUdachi and Nairea go to 5-0. Those aren't exactly non-names, either.
WHY SWITCHING BETWEEN MATCHES/GAMES?
In theory, you care most about the people in our A-list feature match bc we understand what matches you're interested in seeing, and you don't want to miss a minute of the action in that particular match. Magic the Gathering Pro Tours have operated on this principal for the last decade or more, and I've never heard much complaining about it. It's interesting to me how much negative backlash this got. Not to say I disagree with it, it's just genuinely interesting.
Maybe the core of this problem is we're not actually capturing the matches you want to see most (see above). Maybe HS viewers are different from MtG viewers or that HS games are less enjoyable to watch just in "chunks." Again, I can't pretend to know the answer for sure.
WHY SPOTLIGHTING/DRAWING ON THE GAME BOARD?
Again, think guy who doesn't know what abyssal enforcer is. Having the technology exist for abyssal enforcer guy is I think a very positive thing. Is it the best way to help that demographic? Does it have the cleanest look? Does it detract from the experience of the demographic of players that aren't abyssal enforcer guy? I think it's a work in progress, and mostly I don't think people disliked the idea as much as the execution.
WHY SHOW MITSUHIDE'S MATCH?
We were working, not on Twitter. No one in the control room was yet aware of the drama when that decision was made. I personally reached out and apologized to him for any insult-to-injury that may have caused.
I'm listening. We're listening. I'm going to share your voices and my voice. I hope you took away some positives from today too. I also have a passion for competitive Hearthstone. My coworkers are not just competent, they're exceptionally talented people. We'll keep getting better.