Sunday, October 21, 2012

HoN Tour First Impressions

After a myriad of problems with the HoN Tour software, HoN Tour has been delayed a full week.

Honestly, I can't say that I'm too surprised. S2 has been working on HoN Tour for nearly 2 years in some capacity, but almost all of it was creating the format, the website and the tournament API. It wasn't until a few months ago when the process of automating the system was even introduced and from what I'd heard the testing process only lasted a couple of weeks in the SBT client, so stress testing it was probably out of the question.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened either. Back when S2 launched the DreamHoN Qualifiers for Dreamhack Summer 2012 as well as the DreamHoN Online Summer Championships there were also issues that had to be addressed. Mostly with the fact that any time more than 5 people wanted to use the website at the same time, it would crash. Of course all of these things ended up being fixed by the time DreamHoN Redemption and Destination Dreamhack arrived, and that portal will likely be used for future Dreamhack tournaments as well. Back to HoN Tour though...

Following the announcement of the delay, a statement was released by the Competitive Commissioner Sam "Milkfat" Braithwaite on the forums and on which I will copy and paste here:

To begin, we would like to sincerely apologize for today's events. Due to the unexpected server errors we experienced today with the HoN Tour tournament platform, we have decided to postpone the HoN Tour Qualifiers for one week. We identified the problem and we are working to have it fixed as soon as possible.

We will re-launch the HoN Tour Qualifiers on Saturday, October 27th, due to the nature of this event and the effects these changes will have on the schedule.

All match results from today, Saturday, October 20th, will not be taken into consideration once the tournament is re-launched, in order to maintain the integrity of the Qualifiers. We are also going to re-open the sign ups for the Qualifiers, giving everyone another chance to sign-up and compete.

The schedule for the HoN Tour Qualifiers will also be changed allowing all matches to take place during the weekends. The new schedule will be posted at by tomorrow evening.

All teams who signed up for today's Qualifiers don't have to do anything to re-enter. When sign ups open again tomorrow, anyone who missed the sign ups for this Qualifier (October 20th) and would like to sign-up for the October 27th Qualifiers should click the sign-up button found at the Qualifier's Event page.

We remind you that in order to receive a seed and to be placed in the upper divisions of HoN Tour at launch, a team should compete in the double elimination Qualifiers. However any team may participate in any HoN Tour Event Cycle by signing up and participating in a Bronze Division tournament at first.

We are still extremely excited to see everyone compete in HoN Tour and hope that today's sneak peek of the new and improved Honcast indicates the many great things to come. We will also be adding 300 silver coins to each account that signed-up for today's Qualifiers.

- Sam "Milkfat"

A couple of big things are mentioned here that are worth talking about; the scheduling change, and the fact that all first round matches are being thrown out. Also the fact that they referred to the launch of HoN Tour and its failure as being a "Sneak Peek" is just outright laughable, almost to the point of being insulting to anyone who participated in it.

First: The scheduling change. The scheduling change makes a lot of sense. Moving everything to weekends. This is a great move by S2 and only happened because of the huge community outcry. There are people at S2 who, just a couple months ago, were completely and adamantly against any kind of rescheduling when I was trying to get a match slider implemented. The match slider was supposed to make it so that if two teams wanted to reschedule, all they had to do was slide their match to the agreed upon time and have their opponents do that same, and that info would relay to the automated HoN Tour platform. Sounded easy enough and when I spoke with the programmers they said it would be possible. I can go on here and make people look bad, but the point is they finally changed it. It just took a swarm of players instead of one competent Director of eSports.

Second: The matches being thrown out. Look, I understand that you want to get more teams signed up for HoN Tour and when that happens you're going to have to redo the brackets and schedule (by the way, I heard they changed the brackets like... a couple hours before the matches were scheduled? Someone confirm in the comments section please.) But it's gonna be pretty crappy for those teams who did play to just be like "oh sorry, you don't get the win." This hasn't had much of an outcry.. YET, but once teams who won during the first day of the "sweet sneak peek" qualifiers end up losing their first round matchups people are going to complain. The smart thing to do would be to advance those teams who won into the next round and schedule any new teams to HoN Tour against one another and inject them into the new bracket. This is assuming that the brackets will change by having additional teams and teams will face new opponents. If teams will face the same opponents then there is no way that removing team wins is acceptable. 

Not everything from HoN Tour's launch was bad however. I was really excited to see the new Honcast studio and all of the new production elements that they were going to bring. The Honcast studio has been more or less done for the last 3 months, and since that time I've been patiently awaiting the moment when I could witness the power of a $200,000 studio put into place. I have to say that for a first showing I was impressed. I thought that transitions were smooth and looked nice, I though the studio looked pretty good but needed some work. Both Breaky and Tralf wore button up shirts with jackets and ties which was a nice change from Breaky wearing a Foo Fighters shirt. They also both looked very alert and rested, which is also kind of a change from normal as Tralf usually looks like he just came off a bender at the beginning of each cast.

Anyway, I know a lot of people have been looking forward to HoN Tour for a long time and there are a lot of upset people out there. I would probably be upset too if I were competing or waiting for this to launch. But the truth is, S2 still has the opportunity to fix this and relaunch next week (on Halloween celebration weekend.) They just need to commit to making it right and communicating with the players, which has been pretty fail from my perspective.

Big shoutout to MrOldShadow, Inklin, Chuck64 and Snoopy who had to deal with the shitstorm as the HoN Tour admins. Keep fighting the good fight brothers (and sister.)


  1. Can you stop spamming streams with your URL and leaving, I've had to remove it twice now.

  2. Good read Phil, agree with alot of the points.

  3. Can confirm the bracket change, my team was originally scheduled to play QsQ in round 1 and if we won, tdm in round 2.

  4. Anonymous #1, shut up nerd. He never "spams" his link anywhere, he posts it in stream chats to get the word out usually in streams where he is a mod himself so suck a dick.

  5. I'm sure Anonymous #1 is very upset that Haxxeren is boosting accounts

  6. Couldnt agree more, Phil... Well, crossing my fingers that hontour will finally launch next week, without any bugs... or at least only really minor ones..


  7. The brackets were changed around 2 am EST before the 1 pm EST matches.

  8. The thing I hated the most was the fact that the team we were facing in the first round got around 45 minutes to get their entier team in after already waiting a few hours since the problems S2 had.

    Then they had some basic users come in with 5 mins left, but they couldnt join the match so match disbanded and we rejoined.

    With 2 mins left on the timer, their bracket on the website changed and they got a full 5 to play a game which doesnt get recorded anyways.

  9. I said on the forums:
    "S2 has nearly always had problems communicating when something goes wrong and that baffles me. It is ok to make mistakes, but S2 has been making the same mistakes over and over in terms of communication.

    It feels like S2 does not prepare for mistakes, or at least not the way they should. You should have a plan at the ready if something goes wrong, not try to figure it out when something happens because then it is already too late. In that plan you should make sure your the most important thing about this project, the community."

    I am wondering if you know anything about failsafes or preperation for potential failure is done at all?

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  11. Topics: HON not working these past couple of days and its impact on gaming (do those happen in DOTA2 and LOL); Swindlemellonz (spelling) and tralf/haxx; 1v1s; HON pro stream unoffical but you're a pro so offical rules. Take it or leave it. Thanks

  12. Good insight. Keep it up Phil!

  13. Phil I'd like to keep this blog in my bookmarks but I need more real talk, like something more in-depth about why you split ways with S2 and where you're headed from here. Also feel free to talk about the competitors in the genre and what S2 could learn from them or teach them. Your posts would be a good blog for someone still on the S2 payroll and you aren't! It's time to get real! You were always at your best when you kept it real, so much so that after I moved on from HoN to DotA2, I still give a shit about what you have to say.