Hearthstone Needs A Better Spectator Mode

I like to think of myself as your classic, laid back Aussie. A real “she’ll be right” operator. But my relaxed sense of self is rendered a mere illusion every time I watch a pro Hearthstone match.

I recently travelled to Singapore for PVP Esports – a championship sponsored by Singtel and Optus where Arena of Valor, Dota 2, and Hearthstone was being played. The Hearthstone tournament was also part of the Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT).

This is THE Hearthstone tournament. Top players vying for the title of World Champion. If you want to be known as a pro worth paying attention to, HCT is the place to be.

It’s one of the best-looking esports competitions out there, too. They don’t just throw players behind black tables with a few screens and a light show. They build a set with all the flair and gusto of the pirate ship scene from Miss Congeniality 2.

Absolutely uncanny resemblance to Miss Congeniality 2. Image: Angharad Yeo

There’s a movie-set quality to it all, with barrels and cobblestone and a roaring fire. It brings the ‘juicy’ design of the game into real life, and transports you to another world — full of magic, mirth, and mead.

But then it violently snaps you out of your design-bliss with this utterly disgusting way of showing both players’ cards on the same screen.

An unceremonious box throws the image of one player’s cards at you, whilst the other player’s cards are displayed with all the thought and planning of the skilful game designers.

And you thought Pandora’s Box was filled with ungodly horror.

This blight on mankind feels like a slapdash way of providing the information with the smallest amount of effort possible. “Behold, I have used the screen capture tool from Xsplit and put it at the top of the screen.”

To add extensive insult to injury, it’s not even an effective way of showing the cards. Half of the image cuts cut off, with no chance of seeing the card information when the player hovers over.

So not only must I gaze upon its unsightly existence, but I must do so with the knowledge that I’m not even seeing all the game information.

For a game that has some truly stellar design, and a developer clearly motivated to nurture esports, I simply cannot believe this abomination is allowed to continue. It’s 2018. Have we not suffered enough?

You can watch all the matches from PVP Esports here, or see more Hearthstone here.

The author travelled to the PVP Esports Championships as a guest of Optus.

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