It’s hardly a secret that gaming is competitive. In a matter of minutes, a session of Overwatch can easily escalate from a way to unwind to an all-out digital brawl, with players screaming obscenities at one another and going to great lengths to defeat their enemies. But sometimes tactics to beat out opponents are more covert, slipping below the radar. Such is the case with Octavian Morosan, an avid Hearthstone player and streamer, who recently uncovered proof that a guild of fellow players have been sniping his games in order to thwart his wins.
Known in the Hearthstone community as Kripparrian, or Kripp, Morosan began noticing strange things during his Twitch-streamed runs in Arena, a randomized 30-card draft matchmaking mode. He heard opponents’ names repeated, saw multiple accounts all beginning with the name “sniper,” and found himself faced with Arena decks that appeared to be perfectly constructed to beat his own selection.
With a community of over 70 million players, it seemed far too strange that he was matched up with multiple players that have similar-sounding screen-names and would always know what he was about to play. Understandably dismayed, Morosan speculated that players were stream sniping him, or watching his Twitch streams while playing against him to see his deck and gain leverage against him. Following some investigative digging, Morosan discovered that these incidences weren’t coincidental: he found a dedicated group of Hearthstone gamers who were bent on deliberately sniping his gameplay.
In Hearthstone, players tap a button and the game searches for an open match for them. The stream-snipers would tune in to Morosan’s stream and synchronize their button clicks with his, hoping Hearthstone‘s mechanics would match them up. This method was successful, and sometimes worked multiple times in a single stream. And so, Morosan decided to strike back.
Earlier this week, Morosan released a “sniper exposé” video, in which he details the measures he’s taken to prevent this from happening in the future. After realizing a quarter of his Arena run losses were to the same person queuing against him, a statistic that’s alarming especially after Blizzard released an Arena patch to fix draft issues, he changed his Battle.net name multiple timesand began streaming his games on a slight delay. “Just with those measures among a few other I’ve done, it seems almost impossible to play a specific person almost every day that I play,” Morosan explained.
With the help of his viewers, who actually found the group of snipers, Morosan took precautions one step further by purging his friends list. He suspected that someone — or a number of people — on that list were informing the sniping group to be aware of Morosan’s stream delay and find a workaround. A few of Morosan’s YouTube subscribers then infiltrated the guild and spoke with some players. Morosan shared the resultant chat logs in his video.
While it’s unfortunate that Morosan was the target of such a stream sniping operation, it’s certainly not uncommon. Just this week, the team behind PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds smacked down the ban hammer on players suspected of stream sniping. Unfortunately, though it was a valiant effort to stop the unsavory cheating technique, it received a ton of fan backlash, as it’s difficult to prove a user is actually stream sniping.
As of now, Morosan indicated that his methods and his viewers have “basically run [the snipers] out of operation,” but he understands it may very well happen again in the future. “The odd snipe, gonna happen, never gonna get rid of that, I accept that,” said Morosan. Tack on the fact that Hearthstone is a free-to-play game, and it’s even more likely that snipers will show up. Thankfully, Morosan seems prepared should that day come.
Hearthstone is available now for PC and mobile devices.