Broadcasting Hearthstone: Lessons from EU vs CN 2017

The annual EU vs CN invitational tournament is underway in China with a number of Europe’s and China’s best Hearthstone players competing for a huge grand prize.

Fitting the level of play, the production value of the tournament has far surpassed its Western counterparts, and features a number of spectator-friendly elements that I can only hope other broadcasters will take note of.

In this blog post, I will take a look at all the little details in the broadcasts. All images are from the official stream, and are used under fair use for discussion purposes.

Building the hype

It all starts with the trailer. Already the announcement trailer of the tournament was on a completely different level than any tournaments in the West. If you want to take a look, check it out on Youtube.

The games themselves are broadcast originally in Chinese in China, but they are also available in English on Twitch at Firebat’s channel.

Deck introduction

The decks players are using are introduced in detail before each game: mana curve, minion/spell distribution, and some of the key cards are showcased to give the viewers a better idea of what to expect.

Deck statistics

Periodically, deck archetypes within a class are compared to each other, including their win-loss records, win rates, and number of times each has been banned by the opponent. This example compares Miracle Rogue and Quest Rogue.

Other matches and overall group situation

Updates on situations of other matches and the overall situation in groups are shown to the viewers periodically.

Discover options for both players

While many Western tournaments still fail to display the opponent’s discover options, there is a popup that appears with this information in EU vs CN. The hands of both players are also clearly visible.

Cards remaining

When the game progresses to a state where fatigue becomes a consideration, counters for the number of cards remaining in each player’s deck appear on the screen.

What’s more, occasionally we are also shown details of all the cards remaining in one of the decks!

Active secret display

The secrets a player has active are always shown to the viewers with small icons. Here are two examples: a Paladin with one secret and a Mage with two secrets.

Quest progress display

If a player has an active quest, its status is constantly shown on the display. Here, Pavel’s Warrior quest is at three out of seven.

Key topdeck probability

When one player is in a difficult situation and needs a specific card to swing the game or find lethal, a popup with the probability to topdeck the answer appears. Here, SuperJJ has one Equality left in his deck, and has a 9.52% chance to draw it.

Conclusions

Many of these things are quite small and yet take a lot of work to implement, but the end result is a vastly smoother broadcast, truly an esport worth watching. I hope broadcasters in the West pay close attention to all the polish displayed in this Chinese broadcast.

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