And just like that, 2019 has nearly come to an end. Over the past 12 months, Blizzard Entertainment has continued to allow the Heroes of the Storm development team to churn out new content (albeit at a slower cadence than usual) and the community has had to adjust as well. Based on how 2018 came to an end, it could be much worse.
In December of last year, President of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, issued a statement declaring the Heroes of the Storm competitive scene would no longer be supported by the game's publisher and that developers would be reassigned to titles in the works and others that were deemed more important to the long-term health of the company.
Morale was at an all-time low within the game's community as expectations for 2019 were bleak at-best and non-existent at-worst.
However, the existing development team got to work and managed to crank out four new heroes. One of which was the second-ever Nexus original hero, Qhira, and the other was arguably the most requested in the game's history, Deathwing.
Let us look back on 2019 and remember the good times (and some bad).
The good, the great, and the awesome
With fewer bodies in the office, the Heroes of the Storm development team shifted their mentality from constantly releasing new content in order to keep the game fresh to polishing existing features and improve what wasn't working. Along the way, four new heroes were created: Imperius, Anduin, Qhira and Deathwing. Many more saw changes to their kit with a few experiencing complete reworks (Whitemane, Chen, Ana). Despite fewer heroes being released, the current pool of characters feels fresh and refined as the development team was able to spend more time refining what they had opposed to feeling rushed to create more.
Over the course of the year, numerous in-game events took place, including a few that returned as fan-favorites. Caldeum Complex, MechaStorm II, The Scarlet Heist, and the Winter Event all brought stylish cosmetics to the shop and allowed players to experience a new way to play for a moderate period of time.
Those who enjoy playing Heroes of the Storm competitively were met with the news that Team League and Hero League were being merged into one. Storm League, which debuted back in March, was met with mixed reviews but, over time, the community accepted that this change was not only overdue but necessary for the long-term health of the game.
Numerous bug fixes and quality-of-life changes took place as well but the importance of those largely depends on the individual.
Last, and definitely not least, long-time streamer and personality, Manuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen returned to the Heroes of the Storm scene after a lengthy hiatus. A great bit of news to end on.
Remembering those who are gone
Although a lot of good took place in 2019, it wouldn't be life if there wasn't some bad as well. After the professional Heroes Global Championship (HGC) circuit was shut down by Blizzard, a few organizations and independent individuals worked to create a small circuit that could exist and keep the esports scene alive in some way. While there were a few events here and there, none grasped the community like the HGC did. Outside of the in-game Storm League, competitive Heroes of the Storm doesn't exist in scale.
Over the course of the year, numerous developers and community members left the scene as well. Most notably, long-time Senior Animator, Lana Bachynski, and, Creative Content Lead, Kevin "Cloaken" Johnson, both well-known faces within the scene, left to pursue other adventures.
2019 was anything but stale for fans of Heroes of the Storm and with 2020 around the corner, how will things look this time next year?