A week ago we chatted to Dylan ‘Dib’ Brown about his adventure playing Hearthstone at Dreamhack in France. Ever since that article you’ve probably had a few questions about the local Hearthstone scene. And one question in particular that you’re absolutely desperate to have answered. Why is Dib dressed as a wizard in his Twitch profile picture?
Pull up a chair, because we got the answer for you. Dib dressed up as a Harry Potter character (GLHF: Probably one of the Weasley’s, based on that borderline ginger hair. You can’t hide it with that fake black beard!) for a friend’s birthday party. After the party they went to a bar called Gandalfs, making what can only be described as a serious wizarding world mix up to us – there’s no way a Weasley would ever end up in a Middle-earth bar. Dib Weasley was photographed to ensure he never forgets his blunder and now it’s his Twitch profile picture. The end.
Pull up a chair by a South African hearth
That was just a prequel to today’s real story. We know prequels are all the rage, so we had to jump on the bandwagon. The real story for today is about the South African Hearthstone scene. A community Dib is rather fond of.
“Hearthstone is a game that attracts people from all walks of life. We see this in our local Facebook group. It’s one of the most diverse communities I have seen in local esports. We have everyone from tryhards such as myself, to parents that play the game in their spare time (which isn’t much from what I have heard). The community is super friendly and welcoming as a result.”
Before reading Dib’s quote you probably didn’t believe it was possible for an esports community to be super friendly and welcoming. But you also probably never believed a Weasley had been to Middle-earth. It’s been an enlightening day so far.
It’s a little bit ironic that the esport you play by yourself is the one with the most supportive community, but Dib was quick to point out that while you may play alone, there’s so much more to the game of Hearthstone than just playing your cards right.
“As more experienced players, we [local Hearthstone aficionados] try to contribute as much as we can in terms of helpful resources to the newer players and encourage them to improve (shout-out to Dale “Pand3m0nia” Pon in particular).
When it comes to competitive play, even though Hearthstone is a 1v1 game, it’s not always a lonely experience. When preparing for a tournament (which is long and gruelling if you prepare with me :P), players will often form groups to discuss line-ups and practise specific matchups.
For Dreamhack in particular I mostly just discussed line-ups with Pand3m0nia. We went through our usual process that involves looking at tons of different deck combinations to arrive at the one I eventually decided to take. So players can definitely help each other, especially when competing against international opponents.”
Support, idea sharing, and probably even a hug if you really need one and are in the same city as another member of the community. That sounds wonderful. More esports could learn a thing or two hundred from our Hearthstone community. But, to be fair, camaraderie is something you would expect from a game based around having a drink in a tavern. Just a soda for the kids, of course.
So now that you’ve decided you might dabble in some Hearthstone because the local community sound like a group of top fellas and gals, let’s find out a bit more about what’s happening in the South African scene.
“Hearthstone has been around for a while, and it’s been through ups and downs in terms of tournaments. Last year we had ESL Africa which brought together all of Africa, which was great. In 2016 especially, we had a very active Fireside gathering community (more casual events) with events happening all over the country.”
The ESL event looked amazing, in our humble opinion. Truly a world class looking setting.
“Sadly 2018 has been a quiet one. There are some events still being hosted, mostly in Durban and Johannesburg. Shout out to Lara Ayerst and the Nexus crew for their involvement. We are also trying to get more regular events up and running in Cape Town, with the assistance of Luckshack.
So if you are in any of these regions go out and support the event organisers. Hearthstone needs the community’s support to grow, and for Blizzard to notice us again. That comes down to everyone in the community, not just those with esport aspirations. Hopefully we can also get more esport type events happening with the support of tournament organisers.”
When it comes to events and tournament organisers, we inevitably end up talking about return on investment. It’s not a term gamers particularly like having to deal with. It’s the mosquito of South African esports. But with Hearthstone, setting up an event is very simple, which means the investment part can be pretty low. It’s doesn’t require as much flash as its more popular counterparts. Literally a tavern and a host would do the trick. We have taverns in South Africa.
To kick things off again, NiBBLE Esports are hosting a Tavern Brawl at RUSH on the 1st of July. If you’re keen to meet some of the local Hearthstone homies and have a bit of fun, then this is the event you’re looking for.
But let’s not forget that even without local events, in Hearthstone you could be playing on a 56k dial-up modem and still be able to compete on even footing with anyone in the world.
So, even when South Africa is having a year that’s a bit light on events, you can still test yourself to the max any time you like. Just pull up a chair by the Hearth and climb the ladder to legend. If you make it there, and didn’t just copy someone’s decks off the internet (GLHF: Thanks for your Dreamhack decks, Dib.), well then it’s time to start thinking about some trips to Europe.
If Europe isn’t on the cards for you, don’t fret. Dib has high hopes for Hearthstone in South Africa and across the continent.
“I really believe Hearthstone has the potential to be massive for African esports because of its low barrier to entry (in terms of hardware and internet connection). So hopefully we will see some more [tournaments and events] in the future, and that will kick-start local Hearthstone esports again.”
He obviously meant to say ‘light the fire of local Hearthstone esports again’. Wouldn’t want to miss out on a great Hearthstone pun.