Image from behindthesteelcurtain.com


Image from mmaweekly.com
After the latest installment in the long rivalry between [coL]compLexityGaming and [tdM]Trademark eSports, some fans of Heroes of Newerth showed their disregard for all the drama and hatred displayed in that match. Still the question remains: is drama and hatred really a bad thing for HoN, or does it elevate the matches beyond wins and losses?

In my mind there is absolutely nothing wrong with openly showing disregard for your opponent. Many sports festivals or sport events are carried by rivalry games, where teams and players run their mouths before the actual clash and generate a lot of drama and hype for the match. For example, see the NFL's Ravens against the Steelers, a rivalry that has picked up speed in the last couple of years and is now an instant classic.

When the Jets could still play American Football, you would hear the coach and the players calling out the Patriots, generating plenty of heat. Were those comments bad for the game or the community of football fans? No—the ratings were through the roof, the fans were engaged and the two sides were livid. Nobody wanted to be the one that could not back up their talk; that is what rivalries are all about.

The beauty of story lines outside tournaments are obvious. You don't have to rely on the tournament to generate enough interest; you can just bank on the automatic aura of the match to attract the crowd. Everyone wants to see guys that really don't have any sympathy for each other battle it out on the servers of Heroes of Newerth.

It is basically the same principle on which Boxing and MMA are building their PPVs: the highest selling events are those that feature grudge matches like Anderson Silva against Chael Sonnen or Forest Griffin against the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz. When you have matches like that, promotion ought to be easy. When Pacquiao and Mayweather finally square off in the ring, no big advertisement or hype will be necessary, and the same goes for compLexityGaming against Trademark eSports.

That series went from “manufactured” drama through the media—like pointing out that Chessie and Limmp were brothers and tdM was the only team to take a map away from coL—to being a legitimate rivalry that goes above and beyond anything else in HoN today. The teams not only trash talk each other on every occasion, but the past has given us many examples of what they think of each other.

Last Sunday was a prime example. The drama around not rescheduling the match, calling the opposing team out for possibly ghosting, not giving up one inch even in debate—it all adds to the rivalry, which can only be good for Heroes of Newerth.

Every time a tournament match is not treated like “just another match on the schedule,” but goes above and beyond in hype, expectations and extracurricular activities, you know you are in for a treat as an audience. The beauty of guys going the extra mile in matches, pulling out the big guns and not giving up too early is refreshing in a scene that is dominated by teams that are characterless so far. That is by no means a knock on other teams, but guys like swindlemelonzz, Mynuts, bkid and MoonMeander are not just players on the server—they are characters in HoN. Characters that HoN needs more of, at least in my opinion.

So is it ultimately bad to be a team like QsQ, resisting every attempt of being sneaky or cheesy, allowing every rescheduling, even rescheduling the third map of a match in addition to conceding the second map right at the 23:59 CET mark, out of respect for an opponent?

Of course not. What we need in HoN is a healthy mix of both drama and manners. Teams like compLexityGaming and Trademark eSports are not just “drama queens,” they show manners and respect toward other opponents, but the motivation against each other just carries them away.

So how can HoN create more rivalries? In my opinion it is all about being on top of the game. As soon as you are on top, you get a lot of jealous people trying to knock you off. The next team I can see this with is Gary Johnson 2012, who already have a distinct rivalry and dislike toward compLexityGaming but are lacking serious emotions towards Trademark eSports.

When these teams do battle, the media will jump on the fact that iNsania and KheZu played on the same team, as did Mynuts and Skyzoe, and possibly that Zfreek and swindlemelonzz are brothers.

Once they have played more matches, the rivalry will get more heated and pride from both teams will get involved, ultimately elevating the series above a typical tournament match into an esteemed category of a grudge match with high expectations surrounding it.

In the end I am pretty certain these feuds and rivalries have absolutely no ill effects for Heroes of Newerth and are only beneficial for this game. With HoN Tour, rivalries can get extended and played out every single month. Not just in exhibition matches, but in matches with serious cash, pride and honor on the line.

- Sören "Fantasy"
.
.