Do Hearthstone Teams Matter?

Jul 17, 2016


All of the big eSports host tournaments now. League of Legends, Counter Strike, DotA, and, of course, Hearthstone. They all have them, and they are a massive component of their popularity. However, Hearthstone is lacking one fundamental thing that the others share: teams. Each other game has players playing on teams of five or more. Hearthstone is entirely individual. While this doesn’t seem like a big problem, it comes with a host of issues.


A simple problem that Hearthstone deals with is how to allow players to enter tournaments. In other games it’s easy, you try out for a team and that team is invited or qualifies for tournaments. In Hearthstone, players are invited on a person-by-person basis, regardless of their team. This makes it very difficult for individual players to stand out. It also creates two tournament types, neither of which are entirely fair.

The first type is the invitational. This is where specific players are invited to come play, and they are not forced to earn their spot. This is very good for those players who have already made a name for themselves. It allows them to jump the line, and continue to expose themselves. It also makes for good television, as many people want to watch the pros they love.

The second type is an open tournament. In these, anyone can apply, and everyone is given a chance to rise to the top. This is great for unknown players looking to make a name for themselves. It’s also the fairest way of determining a victor. However, due to the nature of Hearthstone, it often leads to pros being eliminated. This can be problematic for several reasons. First, a top player is often eliminated due to lucky or unlucky streaks. Second, the viewers want to see players they know, not an entire group of nobodies. Lastly, riding off the audience, the prize pools end up being smaller because viewership isn’t guaranteed.

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An easy solution to the entrance issue for most games is to simply invite teams. This allows players to try out for teams and keeps the decision making off the host’s shoulders. Hearthstone has a few issues with this. The largest problem is the ladder system.

In Hearthstone, there is no clear way to see who is at the top of the ladder. Not only that, but because the ladder resets so often, being at the top doesn’t mean a whole lot. Because of this, it is extremely difficult for teams to recruit new members. In fact, usually they end up recruiting based on tournament performances. In most games, teams recruit in game and take their players to tournaments. In Hearthstone, teams go to tournaments looking to recruit.

Team G2 competes in Hearthstone tournaments
Hearthstone teams look cool, but they rarely mean much (Team G2 pictured)

This puts a lot of pressure on the hosts to have fair tournaments for everyone. Tournaments get skewed in order to allow everyone a shot, and big names get left behind. Hearthstone simply has too much luck to allow single elimination tournaments. However, with the size of the open tournaments, this is what must happen, and good players get left out.


What all of this comes down to is a lack of stories. This is something that the Hearthstone community has been desperately craving. In other games, professional players are often in the scene for quite a while. They make a name for themselves, and people know who they are. Teams are the same way, promoting fans just like in regular sports. Hearthstone doesn’t have either of these.

The teams in Hearthstone are, by and large, irrelevant to viewers. When each player plays alone, it doesn’t mean much what team they play for. Teams don’t make names for themselves because they all recruit the same way, and none of them have exclusive privileges.

The bigger problem is the stories behind the players. There are certainly players that have rich and interesting stories behind them. However, many of them don’t appear in any given tournament. In open tournaments especially, it is very rare to see professional players make it to the finals. As such, it is difficult to create a narrative behind players. You see new players every tournament you watch, and it becomes difficult to care about their stories.


Due to a variety of factors, Hearthstone has difficulty creating memorable tournaments. No matter what format they chose, a large number of participants and viewers will be disappointed. The teams in Hearthstone are a complete shamble. This comes from the fact that Hearthstone does not allow for any method of identifying top players, apart from tournaments.

The biggest problem comes from the fact that players simply have no way to make a name for themselves. Apart from winning a bunch of tournaments or becoming a big streamer, there isn’t an easy way to become well-known. This leads to very few players who can pursue professional Hearthstone, and causing even more issues when it comes to running the tournaments. There isn’t a clear answer at the moment, and there likely won’t be until Hearthstone provides a better ladder system. We can only hope.

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Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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