Hearthstone has a long history of being neglected by the "big boys" in eSports. It was often accused of being a game of luck, where the more skilled player barely gets to show why he deserves said title. Nonetheless, Hearthstone emerged as one of the most popular eSports within the scene, with concurrent viewers breaking the 50,000s easily and prize money being thrown around like crazy. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie. But this trend eventually faded.
People started to realise that Hearthstone as an eSport wasn't the competitive playing field they were used to. This became especially apparent when the 2014 World Champion Firebat didnt manage to qualify for the Top 32 in the 2015 World Championship.
When a former World Champion does not qualify even for the Top 32 the subsequent year, that's an issue. It shows how absurdly fluctuant Hearthstone is as an eSport. You can just accept that this is how competitive card games work, that chance always plays a key part. But when the community feels like any of the 32 2015 World Championship participants can become the World Champion, without there being major factors one way or another to differentiate their skill level, that takes a lot away from the competitive experience. It undermines it greatly.
The problem lies within the way Heartstone tournaments are made and portrayed: To be successful at Hearthstone it takes a ridiculous amount of preparation, knowing what decks to play, which tech cards to include. But even then, victory is not guaranteed. You might run into an unexpected counter, or simply not draw well whereas your opponent plays a perfect curve. Unlike in League or Dota where you can ban certain heroes so the lucky matchup factor becomes as fluctuant as possible, very few tournaments allow the banning of classes or even cards.
You cant tell the difference between an average and a great player from just a few matches; however when looking at dozens, even hundreds of matches, the difference becomes pretty distinct. That is what Hearthstone as an eSport should focus on, rewarding consistency rather than RNG. This is why the Archon Team League Championship is still considered the greatest Hearthstone tournament by many: It featured a League system in which certain matches might've been decided by luck, but the difference between certain team power levels became pretty distinct after a while. The reason I'm so saddened by the fact that we (probably) won't see another ATLC wasn't its huge prize pool or star player showing, it was the format. League formats are absolutely perfect for Hearthstone. I can't comprehend why it hasn't been used many times more.
Believe it or not, there are some good news though: With major forces like Amaz and Team Archon retracting from the scene one way or another, this is a huge opportunity for new teams and ideas to show up big time. For example, Firebat's own tournament "Batstone" happened recently, which featured a banlist of five cards voted by the community. A simple yet clever idea. Let's all hope clever ideas like these, and tournaments that reward consistency over luck take off big time, so Hearthstone can show it still has some Yogg's up his sleeves!