Voting is currently underway for the players that will represent their countries in the Hearthstone Global Games. And glancing through the list of UK hopefuls, one player stands out in particular.
It’s the guy whose entire application is based around toast.
What we see here is a guy whose name is Toastmonster, whose quote feature two separate toast puns and whose picture is of himself lying in a bathtub full of toast. It’s fair to say there’s a strong theme running through this profile, and that theme is bready in nature.
Popular vote means players have to stand out
This kind of thing happens because of the structure of the Hearthstone Global Games selection process. One player per country gets in automatically, by earning the most Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) points. The remaining three spots in the national roster, however, can go to anyone in the 2nd to 8th places of the HCT ranking and are determined by popular vote.
The main problem players face when put in this situation is that, the chances are, most of the people voting won’t know who they are. And so if they want to stand out, they have to make sure their picture and quote are as memorable as possible. It’s clear that this is Toastmonster’s plan: to earn votes by being as much of a meme as possible.
“I had remembered in previous years seeing a couple of people, like Jambre, making egg puns and I had attributed their voting in part to that,” Toastmonster (real name Kieran Kane) told me.
“Seeing as I am relatively unknown to a lot of the Hearthstone scene, and my username lending itself quite well to a meme, I figured my best shot to get nominated was to go all in on toast. I had done this a little bit prior in an online tournament with a DisguisedToast mask on Halloween that went down well, and I reasoned that HGG incentives – prize money just for being nominated, exposure, opportunity to prove myself – meant I shouldn’t take any half measures.
Going all in on memes seems like something of a gamble. What if it results in voters not taking you seriously? And while that is a risk, Toastmonster thinks it’s one that is already paying off. “I was really surprised when a friend linked me a clip of hsdogdog [a famous streamer] being linked my nomination as it had exceeded any expectations I had for it,” he says.
Toastmonster cites Jambre as his inspiration, a player who secured his HGG spot by including a bunch of egg puns in his profile last year (Jambre invented the deck Egg Paladin). Jambre’s trying to get nominated again this year – and he’s actually gone even further with the memes this time by making an elaborate video to appeal for votes.
Jambre went to even more elaborate lengths to get votes
Memes more important than skill?
One wonders if Blizzard intended the process to work this way. While no one would deny that it’s important for players to have personality, the current emphasis on it seems a bit extreme. Toastmonster and Jambre’s actions seem rational: the current system is little more than a popularity contest and they’re just doing what they can to stand out. And while it’s certainly a lot of fun, it isn’t particularly fair to the quieter players who’d prefer to put their heads down and focus on being really good at Hearthstone.
Anyway, voting ends soon – tomorrow morning to be precise – so if you want to help decide your country’s HGG team then there isn’t much time left. Do so here. You’ll even get a free card pack!