Chair League is a recreational eSports league for Blizzard’s MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. While Paul, better known as Superjova to the community, has made it clear that Chair League is going to redefine eSports, this time around he’s beginning to shine the light on how.
Chair League is moving into Season 3 this fall, with a start date currently scheduled for September 5th. As with Season 2, changes are headed to the system to help provide a smoother and more exciting experience for players, casters, and viewers. Even former Cloud 9 player, Dunktrain, is joining in on the fun of Chair League.
At the end of Season 2, Paul introduced social features into Chair League. “If we look at what’s been done recently as Season 2 has just finished, we implemented the ability to follow teams and follow users. When you follow a team in Chair League you are essentially following their activities, so a team might recruit a new player, and you’ll see in your feed ‘Mediocre At Best just recruited a new team member’ and now you have two links to teams where you can follow all those types of activities, you can see who that new person is, or if you’re following a person he could of possibly joined a team you’ve never heard of.”
With the new features in place, viewers can help become part of the audience for different players, teams, and eventually casters. “We want to use these ideas to better understand what matches have larger audiences, which matches should we be showing the highest, and recommending them to you.”
“It’ll make our platform more worth it for the pro teams.”
The idea came from two sources, Paul’s personal experience on the website, and speaking with Miasma eSports. “I felt every time I went onto the website, I would check the forum and I didn’t have anything else to do on it when games weren’t happening. So this idea of following gives users the ability to spread their web instead of being hidden. And after talking with Miasma eSports, I started realizing we might not be pumping audience members to teams like I originally wanted to.”
With a community of 5,600 registered, Chair League is sitting on a large audience that they aren’t yet utilizing properly. “I think we have to find a way to tap back into this pool and funnel them to games they’d like to watch. Because it’s fun playing in Chair League and having an audience watching you, and I think that Chair League has to do a better job of recommending games to watch.”
Chair League’s feed will provide you with lots of different content. Upcoming matches, news from anyone (players, teams, casters) you follow, recommendations on 3-6 matches you might be interested in that week, as well as the ability to find a match history for teams you follow. The new features don’t just work to the audience’s benefit, the changes will benefit teams currently playing in Chair League. With not only the ability to size up their upcoming matches, eventually they will also be able to post highlights, updates, and send out messages to their current audience members.
“Building a community around these teams, and support for them. It’s sort of an incubator for the teams.”
The concept is to try and attract pro teams to play in something like Chair League. “Features like sending out emails before a match starts, to let users in the audience for those teams know that the game is starting. It’ll make our platform more worth it for the pro teams.”
According to Paul, Renal from Miasma eSports is beginning to feel like his team has outgrown Chair League. “Where Chair League helped him get started, he might be outgrowing his shell and as his team is leaving the realm of recreational and trying to go pro or amatuer, he’s feeling ‘why is his team in Chair League’. That can be solved by getting audience members into Chair League. If you’re trying to brand, what better way to do it then a bunch of people who are interested in you, and related to Chair League?”
Chair League is also pushing to become an eSports incubator, an area for newer teams to find audience members and take them with them as they get into the higher divisions, and eventually turn pro. “Chair League could be more of an advertising platform then anything else. Maybe that’s how its going to change, focusing more on getting those viewers and making teams, building a community around these teams, and support for them. It’s sort of an incubator for the teams.”
Chair League’s most unique, and one of the newest features, is ‘Cheering’. The feature will introduce a new sense of community surrounding watching eSports, and it’s something not found in other organizations (yet). “What I think has always been missing in video games, or what everyone’s calling it, eSports, is the fact that you don’t feel there is a crowd there with you. Even when that number says 18,000 people watching with you. That number is only as good as those who are actually talking in the chat. But then, the chat moves too fast so that number is useless.”
By watching the matches in real time, viewers have the opportunity to ‘star’ a player at anytime during the match. The feature is intended to be used for great plays that an individual may make, or when one player is performing particularly well during that match. If you’d like to continue clicking on the star, you can feel free to alert others to how cool that play was… It just won’t be counted on the star system past your first click.
This will allow for a communication tool to be present without the chat moving too quickly, or in some cases, too slowly for people to care about holding conversations. Instead, Chair League turns it into a simple ping. The system will enable players to go beyond just rooting for an individual, and instead changes it into rooting for the team as a whole.
“When you give it to them they realize that now that I have all this time it doesn’t seem like I have to do it anymore.”
For those interested in playing more than 2 seasons of Chair League a year, unfortunately that will not be an option. Paul has stated that with testing out 3 seasons in the 2016 year, he wouldn’t want to do more than 3 a year. For the time being, they’ll be taking it down to 2 seasons a year.
He explains that a longer season, with more games, doesn’t always mean more viewers for Chair League. Although the concern for whether or not people will continue to play in Chair League with less seasons is there, the recreational league may not have found its perfect balance quite yet. “You can see our viewership went down from season 1 to season 2, for many reasons. More games, less named casters, and I think that it all comes down to people think they want something everyday, and when you give it to them they realize that now that I have all this time it doesn’t seem like I have to do it anymore.”
Season 3 starts on September 5th.
The aforementioned team, Miasma eSports, can be followed on Twitter.