Formerly known as Halcyon Hammers, Hammers eSports has established itself as one of the most successful eSports organizations in Vainglory, with Hammers Velocity winning the recent Vainglory NA Spring Championship. Building of their success with Vainglory, Hammers eSports now look to expand their footprint to other mobile eSports titles such as Clash Royale. We had a chance to speak with R4GE, Hammers’ co-owner and General Manager to get his thoughts on these titles, as well as the state of mobile eSports.
MoEsport: First of all, congratulations on Hammers Velocity winning the Vainglory NA Spring Championship! Were you down in Hollywood with the players this past weekend?
R4GE: Thank you! I was personally not, but we had a good solid 20 + Hammer members in attendance, plus family and fans.
MoEsport: That’s quite a few people! The Hammers eSports organization has obviously grown a lot since its first Vainglory team. How many people are a part of the team now? And aside from the players that we see in the competitions, I’m sure there are also a lot of people behind the scenes such as yourself doing the day-to-day management and analytics?
R4GE: We’ve grown, but we’ve also always had a big presence in events – whether it’s a convention, or other gaming events, you can rest assured you will see at least 10 Hammers together. Currently I think we’re roughly 50 members, and not all are Vainglory anymore. Since we’ve expanded into other games, we’ve started picking up talent wherever we could find it, and now find ourselves in a very diverse community. Still, the thing that brings us together is our love for gaming.
MoEsport: The rebranding of the organization from Halcyon Hammers to Hammers eSports must have been a big decision. What motivated you guys to branch outside of Vainglory?
R4GE: We had a really cool opportunity to help Turbo Studios with the launch of Super Senso, and part of that was taking our experiences in Vainglory and helping community build over there. That passion to help other games, and be part of their communities really inspired us to do more. We took a step back and saw ourselves in 2 games and loving it, so we asked ourselves “why stop at 2?”. It’s just been crazy ever since.
MoEsport: With mobile eSports still in its infancy, it can be difficult to identify which games will be the next breakout mobile eSport game, and where to place your resources in. As you mentioned, you don’t intend to stop at just supporting 2 games; how are you identifying which games Hammers will try to support/compete in?
R4GE: We think successful mobile games have a strong community and developer/player relationship because we’ve seen it succeed in Vainglory; and of course it has to be fun! However, since we’re focused into eSports it needs to have a competitive side to it that supports strong tournament play. If it has the above, it’s something that will definitely grab our attention.
MoEsport: Which leads us to Clash Royale! We’ve obviously been following Clash Royale very closely here at MoEsport, and we’re thrilled to see eSports teams such as Hammers stepping into the game’s competitive scene. So tell us more about this tournament in Vegas you guys are hosting?
R4GE: The developers at Supercell have shown a tremendous interest in making Clash Royale competitive, and part of that growth should come from the community because these community events are important to help drive the scene. To help drive this growth, we are working with our partners at Gameworks and will be hosting our very first Clash Royale live tournament; the tournament will be on Saturday, June 18 from 1pm to 5pm PST at the Gameworks in Las Vegas. Monsterdface, a very well known mobile streamer will host the event and will be joined by special guest Nickatnyte, another influential member of the CR community. Hopefully this event inspires others to get involved and host their own tournaments.
MoEsport: And this will be both a live and online event right?
R4GE: Yes, the event is a very cool format – live and online. We didn’t want to just allow the people who were local to Vegas to be part of this tournament so we opened it up to players online as well. But the cool spin is the winner of the live event will face the winner of the online bracket! We feel this just enforces the sense of community. Live events are great for community growing. You take players who play this mobile game in their places of comfort and put them in the same room. Clash Royale may be the first thing they talk about with another participant, but the conversation will eventually lead to other topics, thus building a friendship that was formed on the love for the game but blossomed into a real-life friendship. For us, that’s the most rewarding thing to be part of.
MoEsport: That’s a great idea, and I think players have been craving for more live events since the Helsinki tournament. Friendships aside though, eSports is all about the competition, and one of the challenges with Clash Royale right now is that it is difficult to identify who the top players in the game are with the large discrepancies in tower/card levels and win trading on ladder. Having seen the eSports scene grown with Vainglory over these past years, what do you think Supercell needs to do to make Clash Royale into a true competitive eSport?
R4GE: I think they’re already doing it through balancing tournament play. Besides balancing it, they need to have more frequent tournaments because there is that pay-to-win stigma that can be helped by showing the “balanced side” more frequently. This frequency will help show the community the developers are truly interested in making it an eSport.
MoEsport: I can definitely agree with this. I’m sure there will be more tournaments and events coming up in the near future (as we are seeing now in China), and expect to see some coming out from MoEsport as well! Within the game, it seems like the Hammers clan is picking up some momentum, and you guys have recruited a few notable player/streamers into the clan. What’s your plan for making Hammers one of the top clans/teams in the game, and are you guys looking for more players to join?
R4GE: We recently broke into the top 25 in the international clan rankings last season, and aspire to break into the top 200 globally this season by doing what we’re doing: promote the game, do well in ladder and tournament play and hope that will interest other top players to join us. I think we have a ton to offer players and content creators in terms of organization and support. The warmth of a competitive player shouldn’t only be felt by those involved in PC-hits; we hope to be the home for mobile gamers alike.
MoEsport: Are your Vainglory players starting to play CR too? Or you try to discourage them from picking up the game?
R4GE: We do have some Vainglory players picking up the game! It’s insanely fun from a strategic standpoint and they can appreciate that level of engagement. We actually promote players to play other games outside of just Vainglory, especially if there is a team-based aspect to it. You can find Hammers always hanging out in voice and playing other games and just hanging out – there is a LOT of game talk going on about a ton of titles out there.
MoEsport: Not a surprise there since even League of Legends players like Faker are playing the game! And how are you personally splitting your time now as a gamer? How many trophies are you sitting at in CR?
R4GE: My time becomes more limited the deeper I get into eSports – ironic, isn’t it? I stream Vainglory almost daily, and if I have some free time on the side where I can sit down and not do Hammers eSports related stuff, I am madly in love with Overwatch. Any other time I am not doing the above, I am playing Clash Royale. I wouldn’t consider myself very good at Clash per se, only because I only have enough time to ensure I always have a chest that needs to be open, or my other daily chest and rewards are kept up with. I think the highest I’ve got was 2,300ish, but that’s because I haven’t really given it my all! I m pretty confident if I gave more time, I’d be a 3k+ player.
MoEsport: Well you’d be a 3k+ player in no time if you start gemming as well *wink*. Any finals words you’d like to share with our readers?
R4GE: Just because you play mobile, you’re no less of a competitive person. I see a lot of PC gamers make comments on social media about Vainglory all the time. People have their reasons for playing only mobile games or enjoying them so much. Portable devices are becoming more advanced by the day and the games on them are better than the PC and console games we all played 5-10 years ago. The accessibility of these devices is also huge, which is why these mobile games are killing it in terms of their player base. The mobile revolution is here, and we’re so thrilled to be part of it!