With Hearthstone's official eSports plans for 2016 almost at an end, Blizzard have revealed what's going to be going down in their free-to-play card game's pro scene next year.
Related: why not check out our list of the best Hearthstone decks.
The Hearthstone Championship Tour was introduced last year, and it's about to come to its conclusion as Blizzard crown a new World Champion during BlizzCon. Blizzard say they've learned a lot in this time, so they'd like to share some changes based on that learning experience.
Here's the official notes from Blizzard:
- Global Season Championships – We’d like to see more global clashes throughout the year, so we have combined the regional Season Championships into global Season Championships. Each of these global Season Championships next year will take place at a select host region, and will be held in venues that you can attend in-person to cheer on your favourite competitors!
- Season Playoffs – The regional Season Preliminaries have been replaced with regional Season Playoffs, and each of the 4 regions (Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and China) will send 4 representatives to the Season Championships each season. Each Season Playoffs will use the Swiss Tournament format and continue to include local Tavern Heroes, but they’ll be more competitive to qualify for, and include deeper prizing to reward more participants.
- Championships Synced with Standard – We’d like to keep the tournament meta fresh and exciting, and we will work toward aligning the HCT tournaments with our Standard Year and its associated content releases. What this means for next year is that each of the global Season Championships will take place during its own content cycle. This also means that the next World Championship will take place at the end the upcoming Standard year in early 2018.
- Points and Cups – We’ll be adjusting the amounts of points earned from tournaments and Ranked Play to be more evenly distributed and include more players. We’re also making improvements to the Cup system. Hearthstone Competitive Points from Ranked Play begins with the November Standard Ranked Play Season next month.
- Prize Pool – The total HCT prize pool for next year will be over $2 million USD. The World Championship will have a $1 million USD prize pool, each Season Championship will have a prize pool of a quarter million USD, and each Season Playoffs will have at least $20,000 USD in prizing to reward more participants.
That's not it, though. As well as these tweaks, Blizzard are introducing some new eSports programs. The first of these, the Hearthstone Global Games, will bring back team-based competitions, with teams of players from various countries battling it out weekly in a global league. Each team in the HGG will consist of the top Hearthstone Competitive Point earner from their country and three of their fellow community-voted countrypersons.
The Hearthstone Inn-vitationals is a series of exhibitions that will showcase a variety of fun Hearthstone formats with some fan-favourite Hearthstone celbrities. Blizzard's official description makes me want to die: "When a Hearthstone Inn-vitational rolls around, you won’t want to miss the zany antics or “playful banter” that might ensue!"