The top World of Warcraft teams will duke it out in the Arena World Championship Season 1 Finals this weekend. A global prize pool $200,000 and the Regional Champions title are on the line.
The Arena World Championship Season 1 Finals for the Europe region begin on May 1. Meanwhile, the North America Season 1 Finals follow on May 2. Each region’s top four teams will participate in the player-versus-player action.
On Saturday, Skill Capped and Method EU open the matches. Reload Esports and CREED are next. Sunday is the Arena World Championship Season 1 Finals for North America. Cloud9 and the Golden Guardians start off the day, followed by Method NA and OTK.
Regional stories and predictions
David Hollings, the World of Warcraft esports product manager at Blizzard Entertainment, sat down for an interview about the upcoming games, the behind-the-scenes and broadcast improvements.
“The story in [the] EU has always been Skill Capped versus Method EU,” Hollings said. “Going into the circuit, with all the roster changes that happened, Method EU barely qualified. They qualified by the skin of their teeth in the last week.” As for Skill Capped, Hollings noted that the team looked unstoppable.
“So my main focus for that region going into the finals is just whether or not Method EU can come back to what everyone knows they’re capable of,” he said.
“They made it to the circuit, they had a lot of time to prepare and this roster, especially in previous BlizzCons, they’re known for—sometimes they’re just undefeated, but sometimes they just qualify, and then they come to the LAN for the finals just absolutely prepared and just dominated everyone.”
Meanwhile, North America is a different story. According to Hollings, every single team was close in terms of qualifications.
“Method NA has probably the youngest players, not least known players but also they’re incredibly dominant during the cups and the circuit,” he noted. Hollings added that for North America, it could be any team’s day.
Each player knows their competition as well. The Cloud9 versus the Golden Guardians matchup is especially anticipated because of each team’s strategies. While Cloud9 are known for attrition-based plays, the Golden Guardians use a strategy based around aggression.
Overcoming behind-the-scenes challenges
Blizzard also takes into account how fans of the Arena World Championship can enjoy the series from home amid the pandemic.
“One of the mottos that our team has is that every single broadcast weekend, we try to make an improvement,” Hollings said.
He noted how the transition from studio to online broadcasts created various challenges. For one, the team is no longer in a room together, making it a bit tough to communicate.
“And now trying to rally the troops while everyone’s isolated and going through their own personal situations, I’d say that our team has just learned to be a lot more empathetic and understanding,” he said.
Hollings added that everyone stepped up in order to face the logistical challenges. Together, they found the stability required to set up a reliable environment and process that they can constantly improve upon.
Creating great broadcasts for a great community
As for the information gathered from the online broadcasts, Hollings said that the viewers care about the players, gameplay and the competition in and of itself.
“The things like a fancy desk or the luxurious-looking sets—they add a lot of merit to an event,” he noted.
Meanwhile, watchability is also an important aspect of the tournament broadcasts. Hollings said that there are plans to improve watchability by making the gameplay more intuitive. This will help viewers who may not fully understand Arena appreciate the nuances and outplay mechanics of it.
“My goal is to share how special this game mode is with the world and have the world appreciate it because we do have a special community and we have a special game,” he said.
The Arena World Championship Season 1 Finals will be broadcast live over on the official World of Warcraft YouTube channel starting at 10 a.m. PDT on May 1 and 2.