Swisscom Hero League

Swisscom Hero League puts Swiss eSports gamers on an international stage

8 August marks the kick-off for the Swisscom Hero League powered by ESL. There are a number of surprises for the fourth season: once again, Swiss gamers have a chance to qualify for the professional league with the best and even take part in the international Masters Championships in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). Nadine Jaberg, Swisscom’s eSports project manager, explains the reasons for the changes and takes stock of two years of the league.
Katia Reinhardt, Corporate Communications
27 July 2020

The Swisscom Hero League celebrates its second birthday in October. A lot has happened in that period: Counter-Strike has replaced Hearthstone and there are fewer cups in the Challenger Series than there were at the start. Could you take stock of how things currently stand?

It is a very dynamic industry and community. There are always new games, leagues, teams or team constellations emerging and shaking up the industry. The gamers remain as enthusiastic as ever and there is a great will among the Swiss community to further advance eSports. It is important to stay agile and keep your eyes open. Dialogue with the community is important as otherwise you run the risk of dropping the ball. The decision to include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) in our league was the right one in my opinion as it was important to cover this genre and also connect with the international community. What’s more, we found that, despite essentially being well received, the Go4 Cups, which are open to all, saw falling participant numbers. This prompted us to trial new formats and games, and to initiate the Fortnite Cup and FIFA Cup with modest cash prizes. These proved a resounding success and received very positive feedback, which is why we will press ahead with these shorter term formats.

You’re happy with how things are going but is there also potential for development? What’s next?

Swisscom Hero League is a platform for gaming enthusiasts and is intended to serve as a springboard for eSports players. We are committed to promoting eSports in Switzerland. That remains our ambition. It is important for Switzerland. Internationally, eSports is on the rise. This is also true for Switzerland, but at a slower rate than anticipated. Many companies are still holding back from involvement and sponsorships, which is a shame for the teams. It is therefore all the more important that we provide the community with a platform on which to grow. We believe that eSports will eventually become a sport with mass public appeal.

What does that mean for the next season in particular? What changes can we expect?

Due to various team and player changes in the league as well as publisher requirements, we have decided to open the qualifiers to all once again. This means that everyone has an opportunity to win one of the professional places if they or their team win enough games and points in the qualifying rounds. On 8 August, we will be kicking off the fourth season of the Swisscom Hero League with eight players apiece for Clash Royale and eight teams for CS:GO and League of Legends respectively. The total prize fund will remain CHF 18,000.

You mentioned the international stage with regard to Counter-Strike; how are you connecting with the international community?

There are two mega events for CS:GO that no fan or professional player would want to miss: the ESL ONE in Cologne, which is organised by our partner, and the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) in Katowice. Until now, qualifying has been virtually impossible for Swiss teams. That is all set to change with the upcoming Swisscom Hero League season. Our national champion will be able to participate in the qualifiers for both tournaments.

Wow, so there’s a chance we could see a Swiss team at the ESL ONE or IEM in Katowice?

There’s a lot of competition of course, but yes, that is the aim! As I said, we want to provide the players with a springboard for the international stage.

We’ve covered the professional league news. What about the cups, which are essentially open to anyone. What are you planning for these?

Shorter cups, with the inclusion of more, temporary games. We found that weekly games were too frequent. The number of participants fell. As a result, in recent weeks, we spontaneously launched the Swisscom Gaming Cups in association with ESL and MyInsanity (MYI): one for Fortnite and one for FIFA. These were very well received and saw strong participation. It was amazing. For Fortnite alone, we had 4,500 participants with 21,500 fans following the live streams. We will certainly put on more cups in the future. In autumn, in addition to the continuation of Fortnite and FIFA, we are planning another game with the new game Valorant. By offering new and different games, we are naturally hoping to attract even more gaming enthusiasts. We continue to try new things and are open to feedback. For me, this is right and only way to ensure continual improvement.

One final question: will you be celebrating the Grand Finals at the Herofest venue or just online as in May?

Herofest 2020 will be held as a hybrid festival with Swisscom as presenting partner. The Hero League Grand Finals are part of the festival and will be taking place in the halls of BernExpo on 10/11 October. Given the current situation, we are unable to say at present if or how many spectators will be allowed to attend in person. Herofest will be producing and transmitting exciting content and activities online over nine days, as will Gamescom in Cologne. This is precisely the advantage of eSports: it is possible to hold championships despite the difficult circumstances. Virtual and digital. Who knows, perhaps the coronavirus crisis will provide an additional boost for eSports.

Let's keep our fingers crossed. Thank you for talking to us.


The call is out for passionate gamers to register and qualify for the Swisscom Hero League professional league. Click here to register

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