"We're going to make you superstars"
Overall, my experience playing HOTS professionally has been a good one where I have made many friends that I'm sure I will keep in touch with for years to come. I will go over my overall experience from start to finish at a later date.
This isn't that post. This post is the "writing on the wall" that HGC was not doing well and things were going downhill.
Comparison of the summits from the first to second year. Not important, but concerning.
The overall quality of the second summit was SIGNIFICANTLY lower in general down to every single detail. The first year we each got backpacks with HGC "Swag" Hat, Thermos water bottle, Even a pin. We each got a box of limited edition "Ragnar'os" cereal with Rag and the skin code and jackets with our names on them. The next year we got a plastic water bottle that leaks if you put any liquid in it, a fake varsity style jacket and 1 player from each team got a big metal thing for an HGC banner because they didn't want the viewers to see we were all living in our parent's house. The first year they had a party with an open bar, the second year we went to an expensive bar and had to buy our own drinks. Basically every aspect of the summit was worse, I even had to pay 25$ at the airport to check my bag, apparently this year that wasn't in the budget. Obviously as with any event besides Blizzcon we had to share rooms (Like adults do).
Everyone expected to hear about a decrease in hots viewership. Just the opposite. They told us we did amazing, our numbers were through the roof and above all we were OWNING on Disney XD where we were getting supposedly hundreds of thousands of viewers. Not only that but they said 2018 would be even better, we would have loads of opportunities to make more money and Blizzard would make us "Super stars". We assumed they would promote HOTS pros in the launcher but they only did that for content creators and Tempo Storm.
The most important thing is we got to talk to the Dev's about what changed needed to be made to the game for an hour at least. We spent the entire time telling them what was wrong with matchmaking and how/why to fix it. They spent the entire time asking to discuss other issues we had with the game, of which, we had none. This is why it is so frustrating when the matchmaking has held the game back since the games official release. They basically told us we were wrong it was fine for the entire one hour.
We did a tour of the Blizzard campus with everyone wearing their HGC 2018 shirts, Overwatch employees saw us and literally asked "Who are you guys" and "What is the HGC". Before ducking out into a top secret OW area.
They expected us to be full time players with the 20k salary while making it very clear we were not Blizzard employees (i.e. no benefits). But with the promise of promoting our brands/streams and making us "super stars". It has been painfully obvious they purposefully promoted a specific handful of players/teams.
Before signing with Roll20 we were told they had information about changes being made but they were under NDA with blizzard so they couldn't discuss them. We signed with them and bits were introduced months later. Blizzard gave all bits to the roll20 organization. We negotiated with Roll20 and we came to an agreement to split them but they didn't need to do that. Blizzard purposefully went behind our backs to give the organization an unfair advantage in making a sponsorship deal with us. The opposite of protecting their players.
Every event we had to share a room with a teammate, obviously casters did not. They basically treated us like kids, with the exception of Blizzcon where all of our rooms had 2 beds for some reason.
The 2nd clash in 2018 we spent most of the time at the blizzard studio. Our practice area was good, because we were using the rooms the OW players use between games while they were on their 2 week vacation. The first day we were given a food voucher worth 10? dollars we could use at the cafeteria there. Every other day we had to eat what was actually the worst catering I have ever had, I expect it played a part in getting sick at that event, and they even rationed off how much food you could take, I ended up surviving exclusively off of pretzels I bought at a vending machine because the cafeteria was closed on the weekend. They didn't even have bottled water, we had jugs with little cups or Lacroix. Keep in mind this is at the armored fortress that is the studio, I asked to leave to get food and was told I could not because of security getting in and out. I was sick, I survived off of Lacroix and pretzels.
Simplicity was the first real organization I would have been sponsored by because there is no incentives for organizations in HOTS. What organization would invest in HOTS when you see how the team ownership situation was handled with Michael Udall/Gale Force last year. There were emails stating clearly the current team owners decision of who he would like to give the spot to and Blizzard just straight up ignored it and gave it to someone else. Imagine that level of carelessness with team ownership which was meant to be a valuable asset from the perspective of a potential investor.
There are many reasons so many pros left during this year (psalm, arthelon, aware etc) and many from top teams.
Cloud 9 saw the danger and left the scene immediately after 2016, a smart move that took foresight and I'd expect inside information.
I was told No Tomorrow at a point had talked with a sponsor and was denied by blizzard because it would take too much time/effort to swap over their logos/sprays/banners etc.
Last year Blizzard/twitch/Organizations split the revenue from bits 33/33/33, why multi billion dollar corporation blizzard needed to take a cut in bits and advertise it as "support the players, support the teams" is misleading at best.
Sophist Lived with Tempo Storm in 2017, clearly a conflict of interest. No wonder certain teams and players got so much more coverage from blizzard than others.
Gold Club was the best tournament I was ever a part of. Words cannot describe how great it was, it was the one event where you felt what it was like to be a professional gamer in a serious esport. This was the one event hosted by NetEase in China. Unfortunately, halfway through the tournament we were told that Blizzard had released a major content patch so we had to play a different game halfway through the 3 week tournament.
As a team owner, I had asked Blizzard for information regarding HGC since September, as well as more recently asking for information on November 18th. I was told I would be given an update within 2 weeks. I wasn't. I received my update at the same time as the public and we negotiated our contracts with Simplicity with 0 information for 2019 while we were under the impression organizations had signed NDA's.
Creating our logo for team twelve was also an unnecessarily complicated process which I will make another twitlonger including the previous section including emails to supplement it.
I believe the reason for all the problems is that every time someone did something innovative or exceptional they were "promoted" to another game. i.e CyaSteve and the bits/cheer system. This is why I made the meme with the rats and OWL, we were just the guinea pig test run for cheer in OWL.
Sorry for the essay and for the lack of formatting/sequencing, I felt obligated to post this.
Overall I had a good experience as a pro player as it was always my dream, I am however not surprised for these reasons and more that it came to such an abrupt end. I will make another twitlonger later focusing on my experience as a player and the awesome people i was able to meet.