Mistakes Were Made: A Few Words on Passion and Hearthstone
There was a lot of controversy over the weekend regarding the Dreamhack Summer Hearthstone championship, and the scandal Rdu found himself in after someone on his friend's list messaged him what cards his opponent had in hand, live on stream for the world to see.
I'm not here to go over all of that in detail. There are plenty of links, articles, and news sources out there; Reddit has quite a few things documented on /r/Hearthstone, and Artosis wrote up an excellent article showcasing his thoughts on the matter in a very professional manner. Nor am I here to tell anyone what's right and what's wrong; I'd prefer to steer your energy towards what should be more important, especially to those of us who wish to see Hearthstone continue its growth in the eSports world. Keep in mind that I do not think my opinion is any better than yours. It's simply another opinion, but one that I will try to keep objective.
It's true that messaging in a tournament should not even be a thing; at no point should a professional player have friends chat with him or her during the game, and the player should definitely not message back. The fact is, this feature should be turned off on one's account during the matches, either via an available offline mode, or through the use of tournament accounts -- which do exist in Hearthstone, as Artosis has stated:
"They should have been playing on tournament accounts. Blizzard does have Hearthstone accounts that just have 9999999 dust on them, Iâve used them before. I donât know why these accounts werenât used, but in the future they should be.
Tournament accounts during certain tournaments can be a problem though. It takes a lot more setup time to make decks and switch accounts around. The player names wonât be accurate. Thereâs even the argument that players in stream would get an advantage because of all of the cards being unlocked."
Artosis makes a great point on the flaws of tournament accounts, though. It makes a good argument for the availability of a Do-Not-Disturb mode for the game, instead.
This takes me to an important point: Hearthstone is still young.
You can argue that Blizzard should have been prepared for these eventualities, considering their success with other competitive games like Starcraft II, but that's a big leap.
Originally, Hearthstone was to be a more casual card game, played on the go via iPads and tablets, but was released for PC first. The beta introduced a huge competitive following in a short manner of time. Blizzard responded in kind, with an interest in supporting the scene. However, the game had its initial design hammered out already, and so there are plenty of important options and functions missing from the game, such as a spectator client, or the offline/ DnD mode for your account.
The original design for the game is a different animal compared to what it has become.
Let's not forget that. Things will inevitably go wrong when some important tools are missing, and some things will be overlooked. It's a further shame that this had to happen during the biggest event Hearthstone has seen to date (worse yet that it happened during the finals), but it can't be ignored that it would happen eventually. A lot of mistakes were made, and it's not easy to catch every single one of them; it's even more difficult to prevent them entirely. The ability to chat is suddenly an obvious wrench in the works -- hindsight has perfect 20/20 vision, after all. The fact is, Dreamhack was caught flat-footed; they had to make a quick decision in the heat of the moment and try to keep the show rolling. I do not think they made the right choices -- they should have told Amaz what happened and given him the choice for a rematch, for instance -- but I can empathize with them in that situation.
This does not mean that cheating is okay, either. I simply do not think Rdu was trying to cheat. If you have friends on your account, and they see you up there on stage with thousands of people watching, some of them are bound to throw out a message just to see their own name live. When you've got some popularity behind you to boot, you will also have random people adding you; that was the case for Rdu, as far as I am concerned. A few days have passed now, and there's still no hard proof of cheating; all individuals should be considered innocent until proven guilty, and Rdu has this right as well. He's a 17 year old kid who beat Amaz, along with many, many others, for first place! He's made leaps and bounds for his career as a pro player at such a young age. He deserves a congratulations, and plenty of support. It's easy to distrust him because we hardly know him, but let's give him a chance to show us who he is.
If you do think that he cheated, even after a few days have passed now, that's your right, and I respect that. If you're angry about it, that's fine too. These reactions are all on the same coin as passion. It means we have a strong community, most of whom wish to see Hearthstone (or all of eSports) grow into a magnificent culture that's respected by the masses. To see so much outrage, and all the excitement from this one event, clearly shows how far we've come. It's exciting, and it's healthy, but we should stay human.
Rdu is 17, and someone that age is hurt greatly by savage remarks (I'm 26 and I'd hardly fair any better). Try not to blame him for the mistakes made, nor for the instances in which Hearthstone falls short of perfection. Instead, shift that ire into a constructive energy, directed towards Blizzard and the tournament holders -- ask them, demand from them, the tools we need to make sure these things do not happen again.
Mistakes were made, but let's learn from them, and use them to move forward.
In the end, the community wins. We got to see an amazing tournament, and learn lessons that will better our future events.