I was a newcomer in Season 3 and I have to say, it was amazing. I have never enjoyed Hearthstone as much as I was able to while playing in THL. This league is a really cool way to play in a competitive format without having to dedicate your life to the game or becoming a pro.
Coming into the league, I spoke with many captains and messaged many others trying to find a team who could fit a player with my PR. I was very open with them all in explaining that my PR was probably not accurate as my highest finish was rank 5 and I had only done that a couple of times, both with Combo Druid. My knowledge of the game was not very diverse, and the decks I knew very well were being rotated out when the season started.
We came in as the lowest PR team and potentially the least likely to do well, so it was cool to go through the season and surprise everyone time and time again. In my mind, when we picked up Zabger just over halfway through the season, we were one of the best teams in the league. It was a really fun season for us and it is going to stink when Adam leaves but I am happy that at least 4 of us will get to stay together for season 4.
This post has a point I promise, and here it is: THL in my mind is not a place where the highest PR rated team is the best, or where the team that got Thijs to play for them is the best, or a place where you have to be great at every deck. THL is a place where anyone can join, and they can compete to earn points for their team just like Thijs could. This idea of “every seed matters” is preached almost weekly on our twitch talk shows, and I do not think anyone would disagree.
So here is the problem: if we accept that someone who’s highest finish on ladder was rank 15, and accept that they are playing in the 5 seed, how then can we expect them to play like a 1 seed? I see this time and time and time again; where a 5 (or really any) seed will play on stream, and then they get completely flamed for weird deck builds and misplays. If I were a 5 seed, what is my incentive to play on stream after being exposed to that? My call to action would be this:
- Casters: You should always keep in mind who it is you are casting. I mean I have even seen casters talk about what seeds are playing and they get that wrong. Really? You should know if you are casting 5 seeds, or 1 seeds, and when you are casting 5 seeds you should not be expecting perfection. I would say you should expect anything but perfection. My advice would be to get in the mindset of a 5 seed and try to come up with their reasoning for certain plays other than “oh this is just a terrible play”. Keep common deck lists on hand and be looking through the cards to see what they could think they are playing around, or setting up for. I am fully aware we do not have professional casters in this league, but I think if you want to improve, especially for THL, you have to stop merely reinforcing how bad these players are doing. Leave that for their captains, it is part of their job.
- Spectators: Kind of the same thing here. THL is a community driven league, but when I watch some of these streams I do not feel like we are a very good community at all. You are watching players who have volunteered to have their match streamed, with the only benefit being that they can go back and watch their match to learn something. While I see some of the same people in the chats giving constructive feedback (Mainge and Cheesee10 probably being the most common) the majority of messages are just saying “that’s so bad”, “wtf is he doing”, “and this guy is in the finals…”. I’m not sure how any of these are even remotely constructive other than the player will for sure know he has done something wrong. This is not helping anyone, if you would like to make these kind of remarks I would suggest going into general chat on the discord and voicing it to others there, not where the player will read it and feel bad in the future. Now you can argue that they just need to suck it up, which is fine, they should, I have not heard of anyone going off crying because they read the chat. For us as spectators there is literally no reason to make them suck it up, it is just mean.
- Captains: Like I mentioned before, it is your job to go back through some of the subpar plays with your team members, you should be doing this if you want your players to improve. However, it is very important for this to be done with grace. You think your 5 seed got into THL to practice for Hearthstone championships? Of course not, most of the time the lower PR players find their way here because they love hearthstone but they want something more than just ladder. If they play on stream and get flamed by our community, it is your job to explain to them why and help them move passed it and stay interested in the league.
- Teammates: If you know your teammate is playing on streamed you better get your butt in there and show some support. In a chat full of people looking to spam, flame and meme, your teammate needs to know they have your support. What is worse than getting ridiculed by many and having no one to talk to about it? This is here because I am a pretty big culprit of this. It is fun to play around with teammates and give them crap for silly mistakes, but we need to be there for them when they are being showcased. You can leave the fun for a later time.
This has been a really fun season and I am happy to have been a part of it. I think as time goes on, THL is only going to improve. Congrats again to Soupreme for winning the season. I hope everyone has a good offseason and I will see you guys around for Season 4 (hopefully disco/party themed?)!