What makes someone want to watch others play video games?
To some, it’s the level of play demonstrated such as a ridiculous no-scope headshot from in an FPS. To others, it’s something they can relate to since they don’t really play or care about traditional sports. In the future, fans might even care solely due to culture, which is what Dreamhack has achieved. Pretty much everyone around that part of Sweden goes to the Elmia because it is one of the most fun and epic social events of the year.
Today, the vast majority of fans are drawn by one thing: the story lines of the players/teams and the rivalries behind them.
That’s Why We Call It Competition
One of the classic rivalries that has been around for decades has been the Los Angeles Lakers vs the Boston Celtics. I won’t go too much into it since I don’t know many people care about basketball (shame on you…ball is lyfe!), but the general idea you need to understand is that the players loathed each other since the emergence of the modern basketball era. No two teams has more championships. The Celtics have 17, the Lakers have 16. The third highest was 6 trophies from the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan, whom many know as the greatest player to ever touch a basketball.
Take a look back from one of the peaks of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry: Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson. Bird was so competitive that he said that he hoped the defeat would kill Magic. That knowing that the Lakers were suffering from a loss made him feel better than winning itself. Talk about intense….and over the top LOL. What the hell, Larry? It’s just a damn game, right?
Not really. Not by their standards. It happens all the time. People don’t like each other for some of the most incomprehensible reasons such as the color of their skin, where they were born, or even the type of music they listen to. In an adrenaline and emotion-filled scene like competitive gaming, it’s no wonder so many take things personally.
The fans will blindly follow the sentiments of their favorite players to the point where it causes conflict. Isn’t it bewildering how you can have heated arguments or even violent fights break out over who is the best at putting a ball in a net?
TSM vs CLG, A Seemingly Scripted Finals
Let’s take another example, but this time much closer to home.
This past weekend, Riot held the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Summer Split Finals in Madison Square Garden (MSG). That’s a pretty huge deal. League of Legends is already the most well known eSport in the entire scene and they decided to go the biggest they possibly could for the end of this year’s LCS. MSG is one of the most iconic stages to perform in the entire world, hosting the likes of John Lennon’s last concert to the modern day clown show that is the struggling New York Knicks. I’m a Nets fan so I couldn’t be happier about that last part.
Quite possibly my favorite eSports event of the year so far.
We saw Team SoloMid (TSM), a team that has been to the finals of every LCS since its inception, go up against a long-time rival, Counter Logic Gaming (CLG). Once upon a time at the beginning of the LoL competitive scene, CLG dominated under the helm of HotShotGG as they won MLGs, IEMs, WCGs, etc. Then TSM started going all-out, being the first team to secure a training house and build a star-studded roster. These days, CLG had been more of the butt-end of jokes of having “potential” or needing “faith” as a fan. I didn’t follow too closely so I don’t know the particular reason they failed, but it was clear that CLG were still a rather popular team. For some reason, they could never put it together.
This Summer Split Finals, however, everything changed.
CLG played like a “Top 4 in the world” team with amazing coordination and fantastic playmaking. Their execution looked clean and they made good decisions overall. What is particularly impressive is how CLG did it with no imports either. TSM, in contrast, has non-native European and Asian players who joined the team for the sole purpose of winning LCS! It’s unreal to think that a home-grown NA team managed to go home as champions.
What really got me going with my tears fully stacked was seeing Hotshot’s speech at the end. He called them brothers and barely squeezed out words about how much the victory meant to him.
The gratitude and humility displayed was incredible. It’s a moment that still chokes me up as I type it. Now, we can’t really make CLG potential jokes, but we were gifted with a breath of fresh air in the TSM-CLG clash.
Tempo Storm vs Archon
So this brings us to the main point of the article: the budding rivalry between Tempo Storm and Archon and why people need to care that they don’t like each other.
The beef that started it all was Reynad felt Amaz was imitating all his hard work when Archon was formed and started announcing things. To Reynad, Archon will simply crowd whatever market Tempo Storm ventures upon such as deck techs on a website or creating an arena tournament. I recall Amaz one time told me he felt that not only was forming Archon a good business decision, but that he could do a better job than Reynad did.
It’s a fair assessment. I’ll take this opportunity to pre-emptively say here that Reynad has matured greatly since my time on the team and I could not be more proud of him. However, I would be lying if Reynad hasn’t made the best decisions consistently whether it’s team decisions like his spat with TidesofTime, putting Blizzard/Hearthstone/his fans on blast too often, or his personal antics in Amsterdam. The team has put out lots of great things like the Meta Snapshot and the Challengestone series, but we also had rocky moments in terms of things like website promises, Reckful casting shenanigans, and abysmal tournament performances.
Reynad won a tournament AND beat an Archon member? Someone pinch me.
Nonetheless, Amaz quickly realized, as any rational person can conclude, it’s much easier to observe with hindsight than to be in that position in the first place. Archon received lots of hype due to Firebat winning BlizzCon 2014 and continued picking up members to build their roster. Then the Pinnacle 2 happened with the Hosty situation where Archon ended up kicking Hosty during the tournament. Admittedly, my response wasn’t the most professional, but I was sincerely shocked at how knee-jerky the entire ordeal felt. Why not at least wait until everyone calms down and do some investigation while weighing your options? Archon continued this trend when they got further called out in the Pinnacle 4 when it was discovered they were re-inviting eliminated players and defend it.
But they’re learning. Everyone is learning. Archon has cleaned up their tournament organizational abilities and have ran a near flawless and highly successful $250,000 team league event in a scene where no one really thought was possible post-Fight Night. Tempo Storm continues doing fun and ridiculous things like the animated series as well as hosting their own Fireside Gathering.
In fact, what is really fascinating about both teams is that they are the ones rising to prominence with Hearthstone being their core game. It’s a true sign of health of the scene when multiple organizations can arise and become a presence in the entire industry. Tempo Storm now has a successful Heroes team as well as their hands in several games. Archon recently expanded into DOTA2 and competed in The International 5 Wildcards. Many teams nowadays get a huge jump-start from LCS salaries or are cashing in big time with huge revenue shares from the Valve microtransaction systems. Tempo Storm and Archon (as well as Nihilum) started from our own grassroots. That is a huge accomplishment and the fact that TS/Archon are competing against each other for attention, prestige, and eyeballs forces them to create a better quality product and step up their game. Such a cool narrative!
What sucks is the rivalry is starting to become forgotten.
A couple hours ago, I joined 80,000 viewers to watch Game 11 of the playoffs of the Archon Team League with the reserved commentary. Tempo Storm started up 2-0, but Archon came back strong with 4 straight wins. This ended up becoming a nailbiter leading up to Game 11 leading up to both players putting forth their new and creative TGT Paladin decks. I felt like the commentary was too afraid to show any true emotion in the outcome of the series. As such, the actual conclusion felt…weak. Like it didn’t matter. Like “Oh well, i guess that’s the end of the series.” That’s a waste in my opinion.
Maybe it’s because its double elimination and there’s still a series Archon can play. Maybe they were fatigued.
But one thing that kept popping in my head: Where was the story? Did you know Archon was the #3 seed and chose Tempo Storm as their opponent? Why should I care about this series? Is it to cheer for the best player? To see the great plays? Copy the coolest decks?
Yes, those all play a part, but there can be sooooooooooooooooo much more to all of this. I’m all about that raw, organic, locally grown and fair wage HYPE with electrolytes, chia seeds and whatever hipster trends that happens these days.
They Respect, But Don’t Like Each Other. That’s Okay.
It’s easy to dismiss the rivalry currently as nothing. Tempo Storm in 2015 don’t win as often as their fans expect (CLG-like even) so there are less times you see them clash and also because most players on both teams try to avoid any drama. Furthermore, after spending time with the players at events, it’s clear they are afraid to show their true emotions for fear of the vocal minority backlash.
However, this could not be further from the truth. There is so much history with Tempo Storm and Archon bumping heads. Reynad hates how Amaz copies him. Xixo won his grudgematch vs Reynad who infamously put a Kezan Mystic in his Rogue deck for that series. After a breakout performance, Zalae originally was in talks with Tempo Storm, but ended up joining Archon instead. MagicAmy and Nadia had a spat. Gaara and Xixo regularly compete for being the best German player. Hyped resents that he lost to Firebat (both were #1 and #2 seed) last year in the final round of Americas BlizzCon qualifier.
I’m not encouraging manufactured drama where I want the players to hate on each other with unnecessary words. I don’t want them to become jerks and humiliate themselves when they are attempting to humiliate their opponent.
I’m talking about when the two team collide, there needs to be forum flairs popping out, social media burns, and some good ol’ fashion pride of what team you rep.
The truth is the individual members of the two organizations most likely are cordial or indifferent towards the opposing organization. I can’t imagine two genuinely kind people like Orange and Eloise hating each other with a deep passion. Nor can I picture Hyped doing anything other than blink twice fast if Purple enters the room.
But just because they get along doesn’t mean everyone has to always be all smiles. There is more on the line than money. RDU once told me that he’d still play in big tournaments even if they gave out zero money because he only wants to prove that he is the best. That’s the fire that is missing.
You might argue we’re stretching Hearthstone too much. It’s a digital card game and we should have focus on things that make it fun like the whacky moments or cool synergies. But I challenge you right back — If we remove the webcams, the player handles, and the team names, we merely get lifeless pixels changing colors on a screen. To me, that’s no fun at all.
We all love the ecstatic reactions, the soul-crushing Ragnaros misses, and the wild commentary that ensues thereafter. This is what makes Hearthstone compelling. It’s the people behind the cards that makes it fun. If you don’t believe me, just look at how 50,000 of us nerds gathered to watch Kripp hit legend for the first time last night.
There are only a few rivalries that come to mind in Hearthstone. Take a look at what GosuGamers nominated in 2014. RDU vs Amaz was always an epic clash, full of crazy moments and some of my favorite memories in HS to date. Where has that gone? Reynad has many rivalries he takes upon himself, but he’s even toned that down in attempts to legitimize his own business. What other true heavy match ups do we have these days? Maybe Kolento vs Lifecoach and Trump vs Explosive Trap. We used to have so much more.
Let’s not spend our energy focusing on what this person said or gestured that offended us. I want us to carve our own stories that other communities want and repeat among themselves.
TL;DR: I think it’s awesome that there is bad blood between these two organizations.
Embrace the stories. Embrace the rivalries.
Go Tempo Storm.
Ideas and opinions like this along with your casting are why you are the most important person FOR hearthstone Frodan. Solid post.
This is something that actually hits quite close to home as someone who is a huge wrestling fan (like, WWE). I know that it isn’t a legitimate sport, but the entire reason why wrestling even exists is because of storyline and rivalries.
Who would care about Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania Streak if it weren’t for the rivalries between two people? Brock Lesnar broke that streak, but *why* is that important? Why Brock over anyone else?
This was also a really informative post for me because I had no idea of the rivalry. I don’t keep up too well with tournaments and e-sports, so this was pretty cool to read.
Great work Frodan, I look forward to see what’s to come 🙂
Never knew Archon and Tempostorm were always at each other’s throats. Informal read for sure, and makes me wonder how much better or worse the conflict may get. But it was and interesting thing to read…Looking forward to the next article/piece Frodan
Hahaha, good stuff man. As a diehard Laker fan, I know all too well the resentment for the C’s that exists within our fandom. You’re definitely right; when viewing, we come (and are initially hooked) because we like the game/sport, but we stay because of the personalities and storylines that led us to that moment. Hearthstone has had its share of drama, but it’s seemingly not related to how players/teams got to where they are in a tournament, etc. Rather, it’s been primarily through thorough Reddit investigations and the like; nothing particularly related to rivalries as you mentioned. I hope that trend can change. Maybe that rap battle can turn the tide, haha.
And lastly, Nadia and MagicAmy were beefing, lol? That’s news to me *sips tea like Kermit the Frog*
Tritons up, my dude! (I gotta really think of something us UCSD alum can use as salutations, lol.)
Yeah I’m not sure what exactly, but there was something Amy didn’t like about being compared to her. She one time tried to pick a fight with people in Nadia’s chat lol.
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Ah, I see. Sounds catty. I can rock with that, lol.
Awesome article. Great idea expanding upon other E-Sports to strengthen your argument.
While I do personally believe the Hearthstone scene will never be the likes of other established E-sports scenes (simply due to how the game, and how collectible / trade-able card game works in general), there is still a big interest and we need people like you to represent it’s many faces.
Best of luck and looking foward to you future content.
I agree that it won’t be like other eSports, but it doesn’t have to. What makes Hearthstone great is the idea that people can always come back anytime and it’s easy, accessible, and convenient. Most people have it as their secondary game while they go hard in another one and that’s OKAY. We don’t need to make HS what it isn’t. I’ll make a post about this one day probably 😛
I loved the story that developed during the starladder league with Lostov eliminating every single member of Team Archon until it was time to face the final boss Firebat, who finally took down the Archon Hunter.
Stories like this made me watch the league despite my low interest in it at the start.
Yeah its the small gems like that which keeps us going
Awesome article chanmanv, can’t wait to see you back on value town.
Damn, how much I miss Chanman and VT! BibleThump
Hey Frodan! Great post. I have a work related question for you. Can you shoot me an email?
With all due respect, Daniel, there is no “rivalry” for being the best German player between Gaara and Xixo. Gaara is one of the top earning Hearthstone players in history and is regularly regarded as a highly competent and innovative player. Xixo is a guy that gets legend fast, and beat Reynad in a tournament once. He is probably one of the 5 most mistake-prone well-known pros on the circuit.
Comparing Archon garbage like Xixo, to the crown jewel of Tempo Storm, Gaara, is like comparing Steve Francis to Isiah Thomas. Stevie had his moments, but he’s just a footnote, while Zeke is one of the best of all time.
The first article I ever read on your site Frodan (thanks to reddit).
I love me a good rivalry. Being born in Munich, Germany we have two “soccer” clubs. FC Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 Munich. The Reds and the Blues. My father was a Bayern fan, my best friend was a 1869 fan. As long as there wasn’t a good old derby going on, there was no bad blood – only a LOT of banter. But oh my did that change whenever both teams had to play each other. Twice a year all hell broke lose. I remember one time when our dads started a full on fist fight over which team had the better striker.
Today, 1860 is no longer in the same league as Bayern but the rivalry is still there. The city is chalk full of it. Grafities everywhere, people still banter left and right, but it has calmed down a lot!
I really appreciate this kind of rivalry. A good rival pushes you to become better than any comrade you can ever wish for.
There needs to be a healthy amount of tension between the two parties otherwise there wasn’t anything to celebrate.
You jump up from your couch when something amazing happens, not just because it was amazing but the team you cheer for just dunked on their rival. Your team lost, you can now stick it to them and have the trump in the next banter.
Those happy and sad moments in sports and e-sports are what makes it amazing, what makes you get goosebumps, scream your lungs out and raise your adrenaline levels.
That is what makes you come back, cheer more and harder.
They don’t have to like each other, but respect nontheless.
A good reminder of how this can look like is this video of last weekends ESL One in Cologne.
Fnatic won 2-1 over Virtus.Pro in an AMAZING comeback and the VP fans went mental and started booing at Fnatics. And that is when VP’s Taz stepped on the stage.
Those are the moments we want to remember. Amazing comebacks of our favorite teams, amazing plays, amazing moments that leave you in awe.
Frodan, it just started my day at work but your article made me smile!
I probably wasted way too much time at typing this but it was totally worth it!
If any Archon and/or TempoStorm members read this:
MORE BANTER PLEASE! but do not punch below the belt.
Thanks for the kind words and you hit my sentiments maybe even better than me haha!
As someone who grew up in the rivalry between FC Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 Munich.
Those two “soccer” clubs and their derby games were the two highlights of my years growing up.
My father was a full on Bayern fan and my best friends family was full on 1860 fans.
There was so much banter throughout the year, almost every day.
The pinnacle of banter was each match day. Did our team win, did theirs? Where are they in the league? Did they advance in the cup or make it into the Champions League? All of that was up for discussion every single weekend.
I remember one time, when Bayern won a really close derby and our fathers got into a full blown fist fight over which team had the better striker.
Today both teams play in different leagues. While FC Bayern Munich plays at the top of the world still going strong in the 1. Bundesliga, 1860 Munich dropped into the 2. Bundesliga and has trouble trying to advance back into the 1. Bundesliga.
But the rivalry is still there. Especially throug grafitties in the streets and banter between fans.
A good rivalry is needed for competitors to improve. When you are on top of your game and no one is left to challenge you, you are lonely on the top, lose the drive to improve and drop down and over time vanish into nothingness.
Last weekend when Fnatic and Virtus.Pro played each other in the Semi-Finals of ESL One in Cologne, Fnatic had an absolutely amazing comeback after losing the first map and almost losing the second one in that Bo3. They took a tactical time out and came back stronger than ever to grind out the last remaining rounds to win and then won the 3rd map and advanced to the finals.
The VP fans were angry. So angry they started booing and yelling while they tried to hold a post match interview with Fnatics Olofmeister.
Even though there is a rivalry between those two teams, VP’s Taz enterted the stage and told his fans the magic word. “Respect”. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fX9pOxhOCI )
This is THE keyword when it comes to rivalry. You don’t have to like your rival, you can tease them, mock them or annoy them but you also have to RESPECT them.
I’d love to see more banter through social media channels from TempoStorm and Archon players as long as no one punches below the belt.
We need healthy drama nothing that ruins the integrity of e-Sports.
Fordan I appreciate your work and I love your opinion on this!
Thank you for casting all those great matches for us.
PS: I think I just wasted 90 minutes of time I should’ve been working on this.
PSS: Fnatic will one day rise above TempoStorm and Archon in Hearthstone! Get ready!
VP fans…NiP fans…they’re all crazy. Moments like IEM Katowice 2014 and Dreamhacks I will never forget the sound of the crowds cheering for their home favorites against the “villains” like Fnatic. Great stuff. Thanks for the comment!
I actually double posted…
Awesome post Frodan. You’ve always been important to the HS scene and its so refreshing to read some real talk. I’ve been following ATLC since the start but I’ve missed a few series here and there. I knew that eventually teams would get to this elimination stage and all, and I really enjoyed yesterday’s matches. I had no idea that Archon chose to go against Tempo Storm. I recall it being mentioned that when a team finishes at some position that they can chose their opponent, but when I tuned in today, I don’t recall it being mentioned (I did start watching a couple games in, but still the narrative seems important enough to be worth mentioning a few times for viewers ‘just tuning in’).
Also, I believe both series yesterday went to the final match to decide who wins. How the hell did the casters not mention and get excited about that? Kinda blew my mind the fact that Tempo Storm had such a crazy comeback and how Xixo’s deck had trouble. Instead, it just became a bunch of random facts and some bashing of the Xixo’s deck when instead there is this huge overlying narrative that could be discussed. To be completely honest, the decks were being judged much too harshly by some of the commentators. This is the first time we are seeing new cards being incorporated and RNG plays a very significant factor in Hearthstone. I guess that’s nothing to be upset about as a viewer but just an observation.
Nobody played too poorly, but there were so many clutch moments. You’re right, the Tempo Storm vs Archon rivalry doesn’t have to be some dirty slug fest to be exciting. These are honestly the first two grass roots Hearthstone teams with interesting histories going head to head. People are civil, some are friendly, but we all know deep down they have a particular interest in beating the other.
Anyway, that was a huge rant I guess. I have full confidence that when you’re up to cast, you can help the audience engage with this exciting narrative. Yesterday’s match was unfortunately one of the biggest missed opportunities but there is a long way to go. The casting hasn’t been bad overall, its just since we are moving to the later stages, there definitely should be more hype and discussion about the narrative of these teams.
Type in the intro: “no-scope headset”? It’s quite META actually! BOOM HEADSET…. Beats by DR BOOM?
I definitely need an editor haha. Stupid auto correct!
I like where you’re headed with this, and I think you’re right. That rivalry and any others can only serve to spice things up. From what I’ve experienced, what’s holding that back is actually the teams themselves. They avoid the conflict (outside of veiled jabs), and they’re individually too damn charismatic or respectable.
For a few months I was predominantly an Archon fan, and I took minor, but existent pleasure in seeing Tempostorm players lose. Something about Reynad taking it much farther than Amaz was willing to. It’s still happening. Archon invites Tempostorm to events that could end up giving their rival team a quarter million dollars. Tempostorm noticeably leaves Archon out. It just seems kind of low. Anyway, over the past couple months, through tournaments and random streams, I’ve come to respect all of the Tempostorm players quite a bit. So much so that it’s made it hard for me to embrace the rivalry; I just like both sides. At this point, I wouldn’t root for either team to lose, even though I think the competitive atmosphere is for the best.
TL;DR – Nuck Fihilum.
Except Archon at the least isn’t worth supporting. That one incident involving re-inviting players who had already failed to qualify is hardly the only shady thing that Amaz and his team have done. In addition, the entire scene is incredibly nepotistic. There are plenty of players that finish top 100, top 50 every season but will never see success in the professional HS scene because they aren’t part of that crowd that early on or don’t know anyone in it. For fuck’s sake, Nooberry, a fucking TWITCH mod, somehow got one of his friends invited to a Pinnacle tournament and avoided having to qualify even though the guy has never broken top 100. And let’s not even mention how Archon has legitimized titstreaming with DeerNadia, who has still never competed in any tournament where she wasn’t invited past the qualifiers, and now never competes at all.
The entire scene is built on a foundation of lies and scams. ChanmanV, who arguably got the entire ball rolling, scammed the reddit system in order to gain that initial burst of popularity. The ESL Fight Night that you hosted? Never once had any kind of open qualifier or any way for anyone NOT chosen by the inner circle to break into the scene.
And let’s not act like HS is a competitive game. It isn’t. Even pro players (notable Reynad and Forsen) have said that the game is 90% RNG. That’s not a competitive game. Coin flipping isn’t competitive. This is like pro wrestling. No real competition, just lots of flashy lights and loud noises.
Enjoyed the article immensely Frodan. I have kind of a different take on it though.
The fact that there are no more rivalries I think is systematic of a bigger problem: Tournaments to me these days all feel like the same person talking about the same people. I understand that tournaments need to have the big names to draw the bigger sponsors; and I wholeheartedly agree that you are the gold standard of casting.
But I don’t think that the solution is trying to squeeze more blood from the stone that is the Tempo Storm/Archon rivalry is the answer.
If there is anything that reality TV has actually proven is that having five or more people participating in the same activity will generate rivalries automatically. Its what humans do.
I don’t care if it is basketball or bagging groceries. People don’t need stories to repeat.
Personally, I think what the Hearthstone community needs is a bigger sandbox for people to generate these rivalries naturally.
I have no idea how to implement that though. I don’t know if it is Blizzard making hosting tournaments easier, making it so that people play the same people more often on ladder, or the big tournaments getting out of the echo chamber they are currently in and opening it up to a crap load more people that can meet and compete against each other.
I am just waiting for someone to step up and solve this problem.
Wow frodan that was fantastic! I didn’t know you had your own blog. I can imagine being on Reynad’s team puts you in an awkward situation a lot of the time due to Reynad’s questionable comments and antics but it’s nice to see your perspective. Great jOb!