Since the announcement of HoN Tour ready for launch Heroes of Newerth and S2Games has launched back into the spotlight. HoN Tour was announced last year and following that inital announcement was it delayed continually eventually earning the title "Soon Tour". As HoN and S2 Games have recieved critical and negative feedback, eSports seemed almost dead compared to the giants of LoL and DotA 2. Could HoN ever compete against prize pools of millions?
HoN's idea was not to create a pure spectator sport for all around but rather an interactive community level eSports scene. A competiive scene where anyone can be the hero. I spoke to Sam "MilkFat" Braithwaite, the HoN Competitive Commissioner and Guinness World Record holder for longest gaming marathon to find out more.
RTSGuru: Hi thanks for the interview Sam.
Sam "MilkFat" Braithwaite: Happy to be here!
How has the role of HoN Competitive Commissioner treated you so far?
A: It’s been a great experience so far, especially because HoN Tour was just around the corner when I started. It's a very exciting time for competitive HoN.
As a lot of players and people in the community know you were a successful and well known pro player. A player amongst us and alongside fellow gamers. How do you feel people see you as a the Competitive Commissioner?
A: I think I bring a unique perspective to the position having been a pro player. I have competed alongside many of our competitive players and would consider most of them good friends. Continuing those relationships and building new ones with players is very important for me, because at the end of the day I want to make sure they are taken care of.
Now HoN Tour is open, live and real. It's happening and people are stoked. Before we go on to discuss this glorious promised land can I ask; you faced a lot of criticism due to HoN Tour taking so long to come out - Why did it take so long?
A: Trying to do something new in eSports is never easy, especially when you want to develop the best product possible. There was an incredible amount of internal discussion about the best way to create an event that caters to both amateur and pro gamers and how to balance that experience for viewers. Developing that vision takes time and we are very excited to be able to share this new competitive HoN circuit with the world. The response from our player base has been amazing so far and we hope people agree that it was well worth the wait.
What do you want to tell the naysayers of "It's too Late!"?
A: In all honesty, the competitive HoN scene has never been bigger. It's exciting to see all the new talent emerging through events such as DreamHon, and HoN Tour is only going to continue that growth. Now is an excellent time for HoN players and people who may have never played at the competitive level to begin competing. Season 1 of HoN Tour is just the beginning of the future of competitive HoN and I am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.
I understand that HoN Tour is fully-automated and supported by the client. How does HoN Tour work, why is it described as revolutionary and why was it designed this way?
A: What makes HoN Tour revolutionary is by and large the in-game automation process and the tournament structure. The Tour is designed to support both amateur and professional players and teams, and each Event Cycle offers cash prizes for all Divisions. In the Bronze and Silver leagues, teams only play on the weekend, giving people with fulltime jobs or school an opportunity to compete and win cash prizing. As for the automation system, the way it works is simple: when a HoN Tour competitor opens their HoN client before a match, the “Play Now” button is replaced with a “HoN Tour” button. Once clicked, this button will automatically take competitors to their pre-game lobby along with the team they are scheduled to play against. The system will predetermine server choice and which side of the battlefield they start, eliminating any dispute over these two common variables. Once all players are in the lobby, the captains "ready-up" to start the match and the game begins. Once the game is over, all stats (gold per minute, kill/death ratio, etc.) are sent over to HoNTour.com and the tournament brackets are updated automatically.
You have a prize pool of over $330,000 for all teams and players: how will this be broken down?
A. HoN Tour features four Divisions of play: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond. At the end of each two-week Event Cycle, 112 teams across the four Divisions will win their share of a $32,950 cash prize pool. To conclude the Tour, the top four teams will compete head-to-head in a live Grand Finals playoff event at a currently undisclosed location, featuring another $60,000 in prizing. To get a better idea on how the prizing is given out in each specific Division check out http://hontour.com/pages/about/#prizing.
Do you have any systems in place to moderate cheaters or players who throw games to intentionally stay at the #1 slot of a division for cash?
A: With the prizing and ladder systems we have in place for HoN Tour, we're really trying to encourage healthy competition for everyone, regardless of the Division. Many of those systems were built to deter people from trying to exploit the system for personal gain. If you place in the top of a Division you automatically advance to the next Division where you compete for even HIGHER prize pools and points. There is no reason for a team to stay in a lower bracket when every team competing in the Gold and Diamond divisions earn money with each Event Cycle.
Say I'm in the bronze league with 4 of my buddies and we are skilled enough to win 1st place, how would the winnings be broken down to individual players?
A: By winning the Bronze Division your team would be awarded $300, which is split between all five members. In this case, each player would receive $60. To give the best experience to our competitors, we firmly believe that regardless of whether a teammate is a regular competitor, a sub, or a ringer, each plays a pivotal role in the success of that team.
How will you deal with global contenders from restricted countries such as Iceland?
A: Any player with access to the NA/EU server can compete in HoN Tour for the thrill of competition. However, due to international laws, they are unable to receive any monetary prizing. We are obligated to abide by those international laws and will do everything we can to make the HoN Tour experience fun for everyone.
Will there be a top division or finale which will be an offline LAN event?
A: There will definitely be a live Grand Finals event in spring 2013, and we’re looking forward to announcing more details as they develop.
A fair few top pro teams have left to join the other games. Do you feel the HoN Tour will draw these players back to the HoN eSports scene?
A: HoN Tour is another piece of our ongoing efforts to make HoN eSports as enjoyable as possible. We’ve been listening to our players and see HoN Tour as a great venue for pro teams and amateur teams to be celebrated.
HoN faces strong competitors in the ARTS/MOBA genre. How do you feel HoN Tour will compete with the other games' tournaments?
A: One of the main things we kept coming back to in the HoN Tour development process was to create a competition where both amateur and pro players can compete. Our goal is to lay the foundation and fuel the competitive HoN scene, while providing fans with ways to join all the action. With the launch of the new Honcast alongside HoN Tour, everyone can follow along as the Tour unfolds. We’ll be showcasing teams from all divisions, so everyone can have their time to shine, which is something no other game offers.
How much of HoN Tour is influenced by your input?
A: HoN Tour was pretty close to launch when I joined S2, but I was able to revamp the event structure to make it friendlier for amateur players. Before I worked at S2, I hosted three amateur tournaments a month over at clanmilk.com, which brought in over 25,000 amateur players. My passions have always been to build eSports from the foundation and foster a strong amateur scene. With the lower level leagues competing with a predictable schedule and exclusively on the weekends for cash prizing, there are so many opportunities for players to participate in HoN Tour.
From what I've read on the HoN Tour website the entire concept seems really strong, and I cannot wait to get my buddies together to have a crack at stealing the bronze title. I guess this is what you wanted, a community wide feeling of "I can be that pro gamer!" "I can be the next milkfat!"
A: That’s exactly what we wanted. Everyone wants to be the team in the spotlight, and with HoN Tour, everyone has a chance. From Honcast coverage, to weekly podcasts and shows, to the constant updates and articles we'll be hosting on HoNTour.com, everyone has a chance to be a Hero.
Have you seen a rise in interest and playerbase since the announcement of HoNTour?
A: This is by far largest and most well received tournament announcement we have ever had. Currently there are 10,000 players and 1,800 teams registered for HoN Tour, and we are looking forward to seeing those numbers get higher and higher as the tournament progresses.
When does the first HoN Tour round start and where can I sign up?
A: You can sign up now at HoNTour.com. Registration is open until October 17th, and the first events kick off on the 19th. Good luck and looking forward to seeing you guys in Newerth!
Thanks ever so much for your time Sam, and I sure I am not alone when I say "AT LAST!"
A: You are telling me man! Part of me wishes I was still competing so I can play in such an awesome event.
Do you have anything else to say to your fans and the followers of HoN?
A: I just started this whole “Twitter” thing, so follow me for all your latest HoN and HoN Tour needs! @S2Milkfat!
You can check out more at HoNTour.com