Group stage of the ESL HGC Summer 2016 NA Regional begins

One of the biggest complaints I had for previous Heroes of the Storm tournaments was the fact that everything was packed into two days. Luckily, for this tournament, they split it up into three days so the broadcast personalities and production crew wouldn’t have to work 14-hour-long work days.

Unfortunately, Blizzard wasn’t able to provide enough money for ESL to do an official broadcast and open stage for a three-day broadcast, so the first day of group stage (which was today) happened behind-the-scenes.

Tempo Storm’s first matchup was against Naventic, the team expected to win the whole tournament. At approximately 9:30 AM PDT, the players got everything set up in the game room, and began reporting audio issues to the ESL admins.

The ESL admins promptly contacted some techs to get our audio problems resolved, but nothing seemed to be working. Some players had audio input and output problems, some players were hearing static, and some players’ white noise wasn’t working.

(For those who are not familiar with the tournament setup, the players wear earbuds for voice communication and in-game sounds, and headphones on top of their earbuds with white noise to block out outside noise.)

For over an hour, ESL techs went in and out of the game room trying to fix our problems. At one point, Tomster nearly had his eardrums blown up when a tech said all the audio problems should be resolved, but then proceeded to transmit a brain-bustingly loud crackling noise through his earbuds. After a massive delay, ESL finally got around to fixing everything.

This is where the real clown fiesta begins.

Because we don’t have a real draft built into the custom game interface in Heroes of the Storm, we have to use a third-party website to do our draft. Unfortunately, this website doesn’t really work properly, and the players have to constantly spam Refresh in order to see when picks and bans are locked in. Every several seconds, the whole thing would stop loading. At one point, for a little while, Zixz only had access to picking 10 heroes in the draft screen.

Once we finally get the draft website working, we discover that our observer had sent the wrong draft link, with only one ban instead of two. We obviously have to remake the draft lobby.

Then, the observer proceeds to send Tempo Storm one link and Naventic another link. Both teams im­me­di­ately ready up, then sit and wait for the other team. After the countdown timer went down by a cou­ple hundred seconds, I got suspicious and went over to the other side of the curtain to see what was going on with Naventic, when I found out that we were waiting for them, and they were waiting for us.

The observer finally sent both teams the same link, and we got started. The problems still weren’t entirely fixed, though, as the website continued to stop loading once in a while, and Tomster’s draft randomly crashed and gave 502 Bad Gateway errors. At one point, the drafting website force-picked Nova for Tempo Storm when we wanted to pick Uther.

Eventually, we ditched the website and did the draft in the lobby, which helped us make some real progress towards playing the game.

Unfortunately, Tempo Storm HotS dropped the series 0-2 to Naventic, but had some decently close games. This will place us in the lower bracket tomorrow, facing off against Panda Global in the second series of the day. If we rise victorious in this series, we will face the loser of Naventic vs. Astral Authority to decide who moves on to the semifinals on Sunday morning.