1) First things first: Huge congratulations to both Fnatic and Team Dignitas. It’s great to see them reap the fruits of their honest labor. Thank you for the great finals.
2) Europe is currently the strongest region in the world, both across the board and at the top. Many experts had been suspecting it. Now there is undeniable proof.
3) NA might overtake CN by BlizzCon. The best Chinese players are continuing to leave for Honor of Kings. I fail to see how the region can remain competitive without them.
4) The tournament format was absolutely fantastic — it should always be done this way. I found the All-Star matches categorically horrible, but I know I’m not the target audience.
5) Korea’s slide downwards was to be expected. Relative to the Western regions, there was little incentive for Korean teams to tryhard in 2017.
There are no sponsors to impress. Most Korean teams have given up long ago on looking for a financially meaningful sponsorship, because the domestic esports market is barren outside of League of Legends (and to a lesser extent Overwatch). Thus there is no reason for mid-tier teams and lower to attempt to improve their standing in the league. Such will not lead to a single extra cent — in terms of money, all that matters is avoiding relegation.
The glamour has dramatically decreased. The vast majority of KR players used to play in an actual arena, in front of a crowd, with casters’ voices booming over the loudspeakers, and a stage host conducting interviews — the whole pizzazz. Sure, viewer numbers have gone way up due to HGC, and I really think this is a great thing. But the problem is that viewer numbers are an intangible. For most players, how many people watch them online doesn’t matter. As such, many players feel that they have been “relegated” to a lesser event, as HGC production is obviously far less prestigious compared to SuperLeague’s.
To be clear, I still think moving to the HGC format was a positive for the region as a whole.
6) First impressions on the HGC Korea roster changes:
MVP Black has clearly taken a hit — Rich will be Rich, but merryday was the best traditional support in the game, at least prior to MSB. MVP Miracle has also been weakened — there isn’t anything positive about the two roster moves they’ve made. Most importantly, L5 as we knew them are gone for good — unless Hooligan can get on Noblesse’s level within three months, they won’t really be able to compete with Europe’s best.
The two playoff-level teams to emerge stronger through the swaps are Tempest and Mighty. The former will most likely contend with MVP Black for first place.
In any case, I feel that Europe’s top 3 will still have an edge on Korea’s top 3 come BlizzCon.
7) A long interview feature with two Korean players should be coming out soon. Keep an eye out for it! I think it’s the most interesting interview I’ve ever conducted in Heroes.