This morning we learned that Blizzard had decided to build their StarCraft 2 Season 2 league finals right through the middle of Dota 2’s picturesque International 3 weekend. Half a day of teeth-gnashing and bewilderment later, the developers have at length come forth to explain why they’ve cast themselves as the villains in this drama of their own making.
The short answer: scheduling is hard.
“Given the intricacies of coordinating schedules between multiple regions and partners, travel requirements for pro-gamers, availability of appropriate venues, and more, it’s quite a challenge to align all these often conflicting priorities,” wrote Kim Phan, senior eSports manager at Blizzard. “When we add in the schedules of other events which we have no control over, this adds another layer of unworkable complexity.”
Blizzard arrived at the announced dates for WCS Season 2’s regional finals via a complicated bit of backwards maths, it turns out. Knowing that they wanted the ESL to host the world finals during Gamescom, Cologne’s late August expo, the organisers allowed enough space in the calendar for teams and business partners to plan ahead.
The result? “There was only a small window of opportunity for us to have the various regional finals.”
In the event, that meant that the regional finals were, er, in the way of another event. The Dota 2 International finals, no less.
“These conflicts were certainly not intentional,” said Phan. “This simple fact is that as eSports has grown with more events, more games, and more viewers; it’s nearly impossible to avoid all conflicts. Many major weekend events already host multiple games, which are running simultaneous game streams in conflict with each other.
She added: “That said, we do understand the various concerns that players, teams, and viewers have with this particular conflict and as we have in the past, will continue to do our best to avoid this type of overlap in the future.”
The thing is, The International isn’t just any weekend event: it’s at least as big a deal as the WCS, and has a great deal more momentum behind it. And that’s before we even begin to consider what’ll happen to poor Twitch, the streaming service expected to host all of these matches simultaneously. What a to-do, eh?