Hidden Cup 2 has come to a conclusion and wow what a journey it was! It was an absolutely thrilling and mind-blowing experience for me, shattering all aspirations and records. The tournament provided some of the greatest matches I've ever seen and some of the funniest moments I've experienced. It was truly a dream tournament in almost every way. This post is going to be a small novel so strap in if you're planning to read it all
Just like in the first Hidden Cup there were some exciting results. There was a different player making waves and advancing his way to the finals, possibly using anonymity and and preparation to their advantage. TheMax met TheViper in the grand finals and at one point was 3-1 up, only for TheViper to climb his way back to win 4-3 in tremendous fashion. Congratulations to TheViper for his incredible turn around victory, and to TheMax for winning over many fans and showing the world what he is made of on the 1v1 stage. Both players more than deserved their spot in the finals and showed their class in both the gameplay and interview afterwards.
Players had a relatively pain free scheduling experience due to the timeline and structure we had in place. Since the HC2 Qualifier ran late it did delay things a bit, but all sets of matches for HC2 were completed and scheduling went well all while doing so through an admin! We did not have any issues with players sharing their identities, and the lack of ping in game did help mask things as much as possible. The prizepool split we felt was very reasonable with $3,000 for first, $2,000 for 2nd, and $1,000 for the losing semi-finalists! Even the losers in the Ro16 walk away with $100 for their time and efforts! It is particularly exciting for me to have heard feedback from the players. Not only have some players said they enjoyed playing in such a format, most players really enjoyed watching the show as they could guess just like all of the viewers. I think in both Hidden Cups Miguel & Max showed us what can be done in a format where you cannot prepare for a specific opponent ahead of time, or even know who they are during the series.
Unfortunately King Alfonso (Liereyy) had a family emergency 30 minutes before his semi final on Sunday. This situation was rough all around, and in the end he ended up being replaced by Joan of Arc (Tim.) First attempt at rectifying the situation was contacting Tamerlane to see if he could play, as he was the loser to King Alfonso. He did not respond. Next we asked if the 2nd Semi final could move up and play which would give us more time to organize a solution. But one of the players had made plans for this time as they were scheduled to play around 15:30gmt. Final solution was to ask the remaining quarter-finalists to see if any would be able to play with less than 30mins notice. Luckily Joan of Arc was available, otherwise there would have been a 3 hour delay to the stream with no guarantee that Liereyy could even arrive later on that day. Obviously this was less than ideal, but it was the best solution for the timeline and circumstances.
As a losing quarter-finalist Tim was set to receive $600 in prizepool. He will now receive $1,000 for stepping in as a replacement player & giving HC2 more time and effort. Liereyy will receive $1,000 despite not playing on Sunday. Fortunately I have heard that Liereyy's family member is healthy, which is really good news!
Casting and Viewership
From an organizational standpoint I set out to make sure that Hidden Cup 2 would be as good as possible for casters and participants. Due to the already generous prizepool amount, I really felt there was no justifiable reason to require casters to pay for access or hold back others from participating in the event with their own channels. Additionally, every banner color that we created for other channels was utilized throughout HC2, which really fit their overlays more and made it a better experience for their audiences! I've received quite a few messages from the english and spanish community on their appreciation of these things which means a lot because I felt strongly about it. Hidden Cup 2 had over 20,000 people watching live on the final day across all channels. 18,000 on Twitch, and well over 2,000 viewers on Youtube. I'm not certain but I think this is a record for AoE2! This number makes me incredibly proud!!
From a personal standpoint I really was hoping to break 10,000 viewers organically. It sounds like a ridiculous number to even set out to achieve, but I felt like it was doable with a plan in place. I put a lot of effort into engaging newcomers to the game and making Hidden Cup 2 appealing and approachable for them. Capture Age certainly helped add excitement, and present the game in a new way. I thought that maybe with a lot of work 10,000 could be reached, but it was impossible to know what to expect. Here is the breakdown of the viewer highs for each day of Hidden Cup 2.
Day 1: 6,553
Day 2: 11,259 (Front Page)
Day 3: 8,587
Day 4: 17,690
Those numbers are still hard to process for me at this time. To hit 17,690 organically was never even fathomable. All I can say is, I am grateful and proud to have been able to present the beautiful game to so many.
Capture Age was incredible to cast with and definitely elevated Hidden Cup 2. The team worked to test CA with me, create a dozen or so versions for me, and format CA to bring it to what you saw during Hidden Cup 2. There was a lot of testing and tweaks that were made in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to HC2. I know the team is very pleased with the community's impression of it and are looking forward to expanding the project further.
Identities & Bracket Data
The Guessing Competition data is very interesting! Over 2,000 people guessed player identities before the reveal. TheViper was guessed the most accurately with 93% placing him as Robin Hood. MbL was right after him and was guessed correctly by 60% of participants. After that though people didn't seem very sure, with Mr_Yo, TheMax, Bact, TaToH, Villese, dogao, DauT, ACCM, and Jordan_23 all being guessed 20% of the time or less. DauT was correctly guessed the least (7.5%) so he will receive $100 as his prize for hiding his identity. I have to say, I never expected DauT to win that one!
While many experienced players and casters might have been more accurate, the bulk of viewership was really undecided on many of these identities. This was the goal going into the event and it added so much enjoyment on top of the actual matches. It is particularly exciting to see the 2nd place player surprise so many by making it to the final (19% guessed his identity). Nine people tied for 1st place in the guessing competition with only 11/16 identities guessed correctly! Perhaps even more surprising, here are the results when the pro players tried to guess all identities they witnessed in the event!
The Bracket Competition was purely luck, but the top 3 winners will also be receiving awards for their obviously "calculated" brackets. I admit I am slightly jealous because my bracket was garbage from the start .
Thanks & Credits
An event like this doesn't happen with one or two people and there are so many to thank. First, thanks to the community for their constructive feedback. The idea to incorporate hero names came from many who might be reading this, as did some of the tweaks to the qualifier. Thanks to Microsoft, LeglessAlex, and my community for the awesome prizepool contributions. Thank you to the players for scheduling on time, playing with integrity, and keeping their identities to themselves (for the most part..."U NO ME???") Thanks to the CaptureAge team for the long hours and help to make this happen. Thanks to Robo and BaronUKF for adminning and running the show. Thanks to Henkdesupernerd and Algernon for the HC2 mappack work. Thanks to 4Hardy for video editing. Thanks to Grimgerbil for the guessing competition. Thanks to Slam & Dave for cocasting with me during those long streams. Thanks to everyone who enjoyed Hidden Cup 2 and made history.