Jschritte on LATAM’s payment delays: “I’ve already had to loan money to a lot of players in LATAM”

Most HGC fans will be familiar with the Red Canids, the scrappy underdogs from Latin America who show up to every LAN with pride for their region and a passion to compete. You should also know the charismatic face of the team, Juan “Jschritte” Passos. At the end of the 2017 season, Jschritte left his family, his friends, and his region to fight for a spot on a North American HGC team. Now a member of Spacestation Gaming, the muscle-bound flex player refuses to forget his home region, and the struggles his former peers still face.

red canids

On December 13th, Jschritte put out a tweet stating that players in Latin America had not received payment for seasons 3 and 4 of the Copa America tournament series. Over the next few weeks, he would continue to keep this issue in the conversation with tweets (one of which would lead to a front-page Reddit thread) and an interview with Trollin HGC. In preparation for that show, I reached out to Juan to clarify his concerns with the state of Latin America, and get more details regarding the late payment issues. Today, I want to outline what I learned from that conversation, and hopefully shed some light on the struggles facing the competitive scene in LATAM.

Before we get into it, there are a few things to note:

  • This article represents only Jschritte’s statements and views. I have reached out to Blizzard for comment, but have not heard back.
  • The purpose of this article is not to stir up a witch hunt, or to attack Blizzard. At no point did Jschritte accuse Blizzard of any wrongdoing beyond a lack of communication and follow-through. He is not accusing Blizzard of any malicious intent, greed, or discrimination. I want to make that VERY clear. This is an issue of infrastructure and communication, not wickedness.
  • Late payments are a very common issue in esports, but that does not mean that they do not hurt the players involved, especially in a minor region without salaries or stable infrastructure. Just because something is common does not mean we should ignore it.

What is Copa America?

Latin America does not have a true HGC league format like the major regions. There are no salaries from Blizzard, no standard regular season and playoff structure. Instead, they have a tournament series called Copa America. This series consists of four yearly season. Winning these tournaments qualify teams for international competitions, and prize money is paid out to the top four teams in each season. At the end of every season, prize money is distributed as follows:

  • 1st place receives $5,000 USD
  • 2nd place receives $3,000 USD
  • 3rd and 4th place each receive $1,000 USD

As provided by Jschritte, the Copa America rules state that payment for each season will be made within 90 days of the conclusion of that event.

copa rules

It is this clause, and it’s lack of fulfillment over the last three years that has caused so much frustration for the players of Latin America.

Where’s My Money?

Despite this 90-day window, Juan told me he has not received payment for Copa America 2017 Season 3, which concluded on July 3rd. He said that while late payments have been common since 2015, this is the longest it has taken to receive his prize money. In previous years, the delay usually averaged three months. This is especially concerning to Juan given what the LATAM players were told at the end of last season.

According to Jschritte, Blizzard stated that the issues with late payments in previous years were a result of mishandling by the company Blizzard contracted to run Copa America. They had switched to a new company for the 2017 season, and expected the problem to be resolved. Instead, as Jschritte explained, it is now worse than ever.

In addition to the delays, the sporadic nature of the payments raises another concern. Juan and his Red Canids teammates received their funds from seasons 1 and 2, but there are still teams waiting for their payments from the first season of 2017. Competing in any esport at the highest level in your region requires a significant sacrifice of time and energy, and as a result many players are forced to either rely on prize money to support themselves, or put less time into the game in favor of a more stable income stream.

Jschritte has been impacted by both sides of the issue this year. He explained that, when Red Canids qualified for the Phase 2 Western Clash this year, many of his teammates had not touched the game in two months. “They refused to play this game without [receiving] money,” he said, “and they couldn’t survive waiting for the goodwill from Blizzard to pay us.”

With a popular stream back home and additional prize money from international LANS, Jschritte was able to survive and stay committed to HOTS despite the late payments, but other players were not so fortunate. “I already had to loan money to a lot of players in LATAM,” he told me, “because they sent [messages saying] they don’t have money to eat or to pay internet bills.”

The Buck Stops with Blizzard

While ESL is contracted by Blizzard to run Copa America, Jschritte places all of the responsibility for the payment issues squarely at Blizzard’s feet. As he explained on Trollin HGC, Copa America is part of the the Heroes Global Championship, which is ultimately run by Blizzard directly. To Jschritte, their decision to subcontract portions of the global series does not remove their responsibility to make sure everything runs smoothly and that players are properly compensated.

jschritte

As Juan explained, the issues go beyond just late payments. The way that Blizzard LATAM have responded to his inquiries about the issue were not acceptable. He expressed frustration with the company’s lack of communication and professionalism whenever he has approached them about his concerns.

While Jschritte and the others want the short term issue resolved, and their prize money paid out in full, this is not a one-time issue. He repeatedly stated that this has been an ongoing problem since 2015 where payments were delayed and communication with Blizzard was less than ideal. The players in Latin America don’t just want their money, they want infrastructure change. Jschritte echoed their frustrations with battling a company of Blizzard’s size every year just to receive their prize money. In short, his requests are simple:

  1. Pay every player what they are owed for the 2017 season.
  2. Explain in detail why payments were so delayed, and what steps Blizzard is taking to address those specific issues for 2018.
  3. Put systems in place to prevent late payments from reoccurring next year.

A huge thanks to Jschritte for taking the time to educate me on the LATAM scene and on this issue specifically. For more on Latin America, and easily the most inspirational posts in the scene, be sure to follow him on Twitter.

If you haven’t yet, I would also love it if you took a look at the most recent episode of my new series, Entry Level Esports. This week we actually discussed minor regions and how they can try to catch up to the dominant regions like Korea and EU.

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Interview with Bakery: Third Ban

Preparing for my big third ban article (which you can see over on HeroesHearth) I reached out to James “Bakery” Baker for his thoughts on the matter. As an outspoken advocate of increasing the number of bans in competitive Heroes, Bakery shared way more insight than I could fit into the article. Because those thoughts still deserve to be seen, I’ve included the interview in it’s entirety here. Enjoy!

bakery

How would you respond to the concerns that there aren’t enough supports or tanks in the game yet?

I feel like most of the concern over Support or Tank chokes in a 3 ban system are at best exaggerated and at worst intentionally misleading. Theorycrafting a situation where one team uses both of their opening bans on Supports, and the other team saw that and thought they should also ban out supports, and then neither team picked a Support in the opening 5 picks, and then both teams banned out two more supports is pure insanity. Realistically you would need 4 viable solo supports, solo ranged damage, and solo tanks. This would account for two opening bans and first pick. Anything more than that is a welcome addition. Even if there were not 4 viable Heroes at times, I do not think that downside outweighs the benefits that a 3rd ban would bring. I believe that we do have 4 viable Heroes for each of those core roles, and I believe that now is the time where 3 bans can work for our game.

Why do you think a third ban is better at the start of the draft rather than mid-draft?

There are 3 main reasons I believe a 2nd opening ban is superior. The first is because I feel the first phase of the draft is where most of the improvements should be concentrated. If you read Twitter or Reddit, you’ll see plenty of people talking about how every game is the same Heroes. Statistically, that’s not true, we have high Hero diversity both in terms of % spread and number of Heroes picked. However, it is true that the first phase of the draft is very often the same from game to game, and even team to team. I feel that a 2nd opening ban would shake things up a bit. The second reason is about oppressive Heroes.

Right now I want to see Garrosh banned every game, he’s just too frustrating to play against and watch, but currently the tradeoff to banning Garrosh every game is that the draft becomes incredibly stale when it happens. I want to give teams the freedom to play around with bans against Heroes with Garrosh, while still being able to flex their other ban to a power ban, target ban, or just another annoying ban.

The third reason is related to time constraints. Heroes of the Storm has an issue where not enough of our audience and players are interested in the draft phase. Despite that, the draft is almost as important as the game itself. We also have the shortest game time of almost any drafting game out there. I believe the target of any draft changes has to be to shorten the draft as much as is possible. If our third ban was added in the middle, that has the potential to add another 60s of draft per team, as both teams will need time to discuss and adapt. If the bans are at the start, the chance of a team already knowing what to ban is much higher, and the amount of things that they need to discuss is much lower, which means we could shave up to 2 minutes off of the draft in some situations by placing the ban at the start instead of in the middle.

Do you think Blizzard should delay adding a third ban to HGC until they can also put it in the client, or is this important enough to move HGC drafting out of the client?

I don’t think the benefits of a third ban at this short notice outweigh the positives that drafting within the client bring, and the negatives of separating the competitive experience from the Hero League experience. We’ll have to see what the HGC schedule is like for 2018, but as soon as there is sufficient time for the teams to adapt and Blizzard are able to get it in the client I would love to see these changes.


Thanks so much to Bakery for sharing his thoughts. Check out the full article here, and be sure to catch the latest episode of Entry Level Esports

 

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What We Learned GCWC Recap Day 7: True Pacifist Ending

 

What We Learned GCWC Recap Day 7: True Pacifist Ending

The group stage is now over. The teams have all faced each other and the seeds are set going into the bracket stage. We saw some really interesting games today, some heartbreaks, and one of the cleanest games in the history of HOTS esports.

casters

With groups at an end, we will move into a very interesting elimination phase of the tournament that will feature the new support nerfs patch. If that is news to you, or your unclear as to why that change will have such a monumental impact on the tournament, that means you haven’t watched my new show, Entry Level Esports! We aired the pilot episode this week where I broke down all aspects of the situation. Check it out. Don’t worry, this is the last time I’ll plug it, cause it stops being relevant after today!

Fnatic

Today was supposed to be a pretty simple day for Fnatic. Get the 2-0, go home, prepare for the new patch. However, in Game 2 SPT decided to ruin that plan. The surprise Jaina and Sonya caught Fnatic off guard. There are a few key points to examine in this draft. First, SPT fully targeted Breez with their first ban and first pick, taking away Anub’arak and ETC. These moves put Fnatic’s tank on Arthas, which just did not have the typical Breez impact on the game. He made a great tactical play in one fight to zone away Valla, but throughout the game the Arthas was just unable to provide the necessary peel to keep Mene up long enough to win the long fight.

Second draft takeaway was another pick for Mene’s Kael’thas. Fnatic have made it clear throughout this group stage that they have little interest in putting Mene on support. We’ve seen BadBenny’s Rehgar multiple times, and each time it has been just a bit lacking. Likely we’ll see Fnatic move away from double support completely in the new patch. However, there have been reports that Tassadar is even more powerful on the new patch than he is now. Will Fnatic try to flex a Tassadar onto Mene or Benny, or will they be forced to first ban it in every single game of the bracket phase?

Dignitas

Hey look, the second best team in the tournament went 2-0 against the worst team in the tournament. Behold my in-depth analysis!

There really isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been discussed. Everyone on Dig have crazy deep hero pools, the new players are working out great, and I think this team is favored against Ballistix going into the bracket stage. One last thing on Dignitas–go watch Game 2 of this series. Just watch the sheer control and patience out of the EU squad, even with a kill-focused composition. This is a really unique game in HOTS that deserves to be watched. Also Wubby was on ETC, which is neat.

Roll20 Esports

I don’t want to write this section. These games were a bummer. I think Roll20 went into this event with a phenomenal, realistic mentality, but this series had to hurt. The team is very clearly still exploring some stylistic options, and hopefully they’ve collected some good data from these matches.

Game 2 isn’t really worth talking about too much. Justing was a bit off his game and the team just couldn’t close out the first kill in a fight to snowball their teamfight comp. It happens to every team–it happened to Dig in their match against KSV. If one of those kills are actually realized, this is an entirely different game.

However, Game 1 is really interesting. Again, Roll20 controlled the early game, got some really flashy picks, and set themselves up in amazing position to win. And then one by one they lost fight after fight until they ran out of time. What’s really interesting is how little impact Goku’s Leoric had in the mid-late game. Leoric dying is often fine, but only if those deaths create value. None of Goku’s deaths created value. Whether that was misplay on Goku’s part, or problems in the rest of the roster, I’d have to watch the game again to fully comment. All I can say is that I really disliked the pick, particularly with March of the Black King over Entomb. Hindsight is always 20/20, and Goku very clearly had a plan, but that plan never worked out. Credit to CE for investing in an early Dehaka pick to try and get R2e off balance.

Again, the bright spot for Roll20 is that they can consistently control games against anyone up until the late game. The second they break this lategame curse, they will be a strong international contender.We’ll have to wait and see what happens now that they have a moment to collect themselves, learn a new patch, and come back fresh in the lower bracket next week.

Last point to make on Roll20–if you think any of what’s happening this week to Roll20 means that they won’t be the overwhelmingly best team in NA, you are very mistaken. They are playing against the very best teams in the world, and playing them close. The practice they are getting now is so much greater than every other team in NA. They are getting issues exposed that they can correct before the season even starts. Especially with the new patch coming in, Roll20 have such a huge advantage over the rest of NA going into 2018. Meme all you want, but don’t pretend for a moment that this still isn’t the strongest team NA has seen in over two years, possibly the best NA team ever.


Good new to anyone who was concerned, there’s now no excuse to keep Roll20 at 5th in the power rankings. We have a very clear picture of how these rankings play out now. Unfortunately, none of that means anything at all because there’s a giant patch between us and the bracket stage, and all the teams get a fresh start to find new strategies to surprise their opponents.

  1. KSV
  2. Dignitas
  3. Ballistix
  4. Fnatic
  5. CE
  6. Roll20
  7. SPT
  8. BTG

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What We Learned GCWC Recap Day 6: Big Stompy Men

These are weird days as an analyst. When all the relevant series are one-sided affairs, it requires a different look to pull out meaningful takeaways for our teams. The meta is settling (at least until the new patch blows everything up), the power level of each team is pretty much set for now–today was really more about confirming some things, and answering a few lingering questions. Let’s take a look at what we learned.

dread

As a quick reminder, if you’re at all confused on the new patch and how it will affect the bracket stage of the tournament, you can check out my video all about the situation. I’m actually really proud of it so I’ll probably mention it briefly on the rest of these. Definitely some production kinks to work out, but I had a ton of fun making it. Ok, gross self-promotion done, now to learning!

Dignitas

POILK gets a chance to redeem his Tracer play from Day 1, which was nice to see. Other than that, this is a very one-sided affair that just reaffirms Dignitas’ place at the top of this bracket. I feel really bad for the rest of Europe that has to deal with Dignitas next month after they’ve been able to grow so quickly into their new roster through this tournament. Wubby got to show off his Leoric, which is a very good Leoric. Seriously, how the heck do you draft against this team?

Fnatic

Maybe don’t give Breez Anub’arak anymore. Fnatic let these games be a touch closer than they needed to be, but were still in control the whole time. China is just entirely outclassed at this event, which is unfortunate, but Fnatic took care of business against an inferior team.

Drafts were somewhat interesting here, though that may again be due to Fnatic’s clear control over CE in both games. Mene got a chance to trot out his beloved Kael’thas, which is always a treat. He loves the hero so much, you just feel a sort of “good for you, buddy!” feeling when he gets to blow kids up with chain bombs. We also saw BadBenny’s Dehaka, showing a slight expansion in his hero pool, which is nice to see. Fnatic sort of gets to skate through the last two days of the event. Odds are we’ll see some wacky stuff from them in tomorrow’s series against SPT, which should be fun.

Roll20 Esports

Good news, the team’s coordination is really on point. Even without tons of hard CC, they capitalize on pick opportunities really well. Bad news, Gul’dan does a lot of damage. Game 1 was, yet again, Roll20 in a position where they could pull ahead, but not quite making the right macro decisions. In this case, twice they did not respect how much damage Gul’dan could do to their entire team all at once.

In both games, Roll20 was entirely focused on forcing fights rather than playing the patient macro game. Granted, in Game 2 Ballistix put them in a situation where they had to find some way to create an opportunity to come back, but their style seemed to be much more focused on fighting than the controlled slow play we saw in the previous series against KSV and Fnatic.

It appears that R2e is experimenting with various styles of play and shotcalling, learning how to work together in a wide range of situations. That, or ETC made an incredible Stage Dive play and they just fell behind with no real gameplan for how to recover cause Tomb is hard.

One last note, we’re still seeing many comps that share time on Valla between Daneski and Kure. Daneski’s incredible play on Li-Ming in Game 2 suggests that he is equal to the task of playing ranged carry for the team alongside Kure. I mentioned earlier that Fnatic will benefit greatly from the meta potentially shifting to double threat instead of double support. Roll20 may be in a similar situation.

In fact, Roll20 are in a really great position no matter where the meta goes. They can play triple frontline, double carry, tassadar/auriel carry–the lineup seems very flexible thus far. Now they just need to refine the best strategies to lock down their seeding with a win over CE, and begin preparing for the new patch.


After today, there is definitely an argument for moving CE above Roll20 in the power rankings. Tomorrow’s match will settle that once and for all, but this is my ranking and if both teams are roughly even, Roll20 gets one extra point because of NA bias. So there!

  1. KSV
  2. Dignitas
  3. Ballistix
  4. Fnatic
  5. Roll20
  6. CE
  7. SPT
  8. BTG

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What We Learned GCWC Day 5: Oof, ow, my core

I really enjoyed today’s games. There were really interesting compositions, different game speeds, and one of the most heartbreaking core attempts I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot to talk about, but before we do, I want to remind you about the ensuing patch changes affecting Gold Club.

goldy

This was a huge topic of discussion yesterday, so much so that I made it the subject of the pilot for my new YouTube series, Entry Level Esports. It would mean the world to me if you took a look at it and gave me your feedback. I think it’s a great explanation of the whole patch issue, and I’m really excited for the show in the future. With that plug out of the way, recap!!

Fnatic

So right off the bat, we need to talk about the Sgt. Hammer pick. Anyone who is calling this a troll pick, or Fnatic “cheesing”, carefully read the following several sentences:

First, no. Fnatic wants to win this event, or do as well as humanly possible. They want a higher seed in the bracket stage and are directly competing with Dignitas for seeding. This series could potentially decide who has to fight KSV in the first round, Fnatic is not going to throw a game away with a troll pick. This is a composition they have practice and hidden from teams before today. Likely, they would have continued to hide it until later in the tournament, but with Hammer banned in the bracket stage now, they saw an opening to get one use out of their pocket strategy and they took that chance.

People see Hammer and immediately think it’s a bad pick, but this composition on Tomb makes a ton of sense. More than any other, this map incentivizes wave clear and zone control. Both Hammer and Junkrat excel at defending webweavers, and capitalize exceptionally well on pushing with the map objective. With an even game or a slight lead, Fnatic’s comp is set up to create long siege opportunities, constant pressure, and snowball a structure advantage.

There’s a critical moment that happens at the start of this game. Everything is pretty even up until a small skirmish around the top turn-in. Wubby gets caught, but manages to escape with just a small sliver of health, and Dig turns the fight around into two kills, a turn in, and an overwhelming lead. All of Dig’s advantage in this game comes from the timing of that skirmish, and how well they capitalize on it. However, all of that hinges on Wubby escaping and Fnatic chasing just long enough to extend into Dig’s collapse. BadBenny noted on his Twitter this morning, that Wubby escapes because he made a bad read on the fight. Instead of Feral Lunging Wubby to secure the kill, Benny finished channeling his turn in. Had he canceled tun in to finish the kill, Fnatic either trades kills or gets an advantage and secures their own turn in. With that, their composition comes online, they obliterate the structures with their backline siege power, and the game plays out completely differently. So, rather than focusing on the composition, we instead need to look at Fnatic’s play.

Overall, Dig was in solid control of both games in this series. Game 1 snowballed away from Fnatic off of one bad play, but Game 2 was a much more methodical affair. Dignitas hit 20 first and very nearly had the stall on Fnatic’s game-winning dragon. It was very reminiscient of their match on Cursed Hollow against Roll20–slightly behind all game, but one bad fight allows them to snowball a sudden victory. I personally also don’t love Fnatic’s team comp in Game 2, but that’s just because I don’t like relying on heroics in my blowup comps. They struggled all game to create isolation and get picks. It took Dig overextending in the late game before they could get a good fight. All in all, not a great showing again by Fnatic, but they once again prove that they have that veteran ability to capitalize on a mistake. Even while they are still figuring out this new roster, you have to respect them all the way until the core explodes.

Dignitas

I don’t know that there’s a ton to say about Dignitas that wasn’t covered in the Fnatic section. Games between these two teams are always so hard to use as data for analysis of anything outside of that specific series. They know each other so well, and always play such close series on LAN. Sort of have to take everything with a grain of salt. They capitalized off mistakes, played a strong slow game on Dragon Shire, and were robbed of their 2-0 by one small misplay. I also hated Dig’s team comp in Game 2, again because there wasn’t enough lockdown to control fights. Half the reason this game was so slow and bloodless was because of the inability of either team to force a fight on their terms until everyone had heroics and whatnot.

That aside, I saw more things from Zaelia that I like, dude is going to be a really good support. Also I don’t think there’s a way to overstate POILK’s skill. There was a discussion on Town Hall Heroes questioning whether Dig would have let Mene go if they knew supports were getting nerfed. Having seen POILK the last few days, I think they are still pretty happy with their decision. At this point, we really just need to see Dignitas in the group stage take another crack at Korea to see how they’ve grown throughout the event.

Roll20 Esports

These poor boys. So close to a completely different scenario for the bracket stage of the tournament. Going up against KSV, no one was expecting wins for NA in this series. Still, there are some interesting takeaways to note.

Game 1, KSV just figured out the counter to Roll20’s draft. The NA squad showed this strategy before in the event, and clearly KSV had a conversation and identified how it could be dealt with. The combination of Illidan and Abathur drastically reduce Roll20’s chances of finding early picks, which they need in order to snowball into control over the beacons. Lucio gives you lots of control in a lane gank, but he does nothing to inhibit the mobility of an Illidan. Without that early lead, Roll20 had virtually no chance to win teamfights, and their losses in the early game effectively made this an impossible situation. Still, R2e had a few cool plays around level 7 to get themselves a lead on the beacon and have a chance at maybe turning it around. Ultimately, this game was lost in the draft, and you cannot get outdrafted by the best team in the world and hope to win.

Game 2 is really interesting. Obviously, everyone is going to talk about the core, and sure, that’s how the game ended. It’s a heartbreaker, it sucks that Roll20 couldn’t capitalize, they need to figure out how to close out situations where they’ve won the game. That said, let’s take a deeper look at how the actual game played out.

The early game was completely controlled by KSV. They managed to get more value pushing a fort than Roll20 did with the first punisher. However, we have to take into account Roll20’s team composition. In the early game, they have almost no lockdown. Their damage stinks, they only have Arthas root to actually lock anyone down–they really don’t have any way to create pressure. Their composition doesn’t actually fully come online until around level 13. They give ground and a level lead through some misplays, but they keep finding ways to keep structures relatively even, and set themselves up to be on even talent tiers when a shrine spawns. The level 13 fight was super close, and then Roll20 actually won the fights at 16 and 20. Their composition did what it was supposed to, and put them in position to actually win the game against KSV.

 

The big question now with Roll20, aside from their late game woes, is how much they’ll continue to play around with their flexible style. One of the reasons I’ve been so high on this roster is the ability for the team to focus their playstyle more with clear strengths and well-defined roles. Having some flexibility does make you stronger, but Roll20 now has players at every position who can dominate their role. I would have really liked to see one of these matches against KSV played with a more standard comp in order for the team to test their raw execution against the best team in the world. That said, it may be that they are using this group stage to focus more on exploring their depth and experimenting to collect data before locking down their preferred pocket strategies.


Roll20 is essentially out of contention at this point for the winner’s side of the bracket phase, but we still have some games to play to resolve the seeding between our top four teams. With that in mind, we see much less shifting in the power ranking today.

  1. KSV
  2. Dignitas
  3. Ballistix
  4. Fnatic
  5. Roll20
  6. CE
  7. SPT
  8. BTG

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