At the start of this year's Hearthstone World Championship at BlizzCon Opening Week, Blizzard announced a slew of changes coming to next year's Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT). Included are some very requested features such as improving the time seasonal tournaments take place, more global competition, and a switch from seasonal preliminaries to seasonal playoffs.
Originally posted by Blizzard (Source)
With the 2016 Hearthstone Championship Tour coming to an exciting conclusion as we crown a new World Champion at BlizzCon, we’d like to give you a sneak peek at what’s in store for Hearthstone esports next year!
Hearthstone Championship Tour
We introduced the 2016 Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) last year to help create a system that would bring together the most dedicated Hearthstone players in the world and showcase their ability to compete at the highest levels throughout the year. Standard also debuted with the inaugural Year of the Kraken which will wrap up when the first new Expansion of 2017 is released, ringing in the next Standard year. Through this journey, we’ve learned quite a bit, and we’ve heard your valuable feedback as well. We’re excited to share with you some key changes we’ll be making next year:
- 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 favorite competitors! [Ed. note: These will be 16-player tournaments, Top 4 will get a seed at BlizzCon]
- 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. [Ed note: This will be a 64-player tournament]
- 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.
We’re very excited about the changes to the HCT next year, and we hope that you’ll find it a more exciting playing and viewing experience—but that’s not all! We have two new esports programs that we’d like to introduce for Hearthstone next year detailed below.
Hearthstone Global Games
We love seeing the passion of players rooting on their fellow players, particularly their local heroes. We also love the cooperation, collaboration, and camaraderie that emerges from team-based competitions. The Hearthstone Global Games (HGG) aims to scratch this competitive itch and will feature 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. Cheer on competitors from your country like never before! [Ed. note: This is a 4v4 team based event]
Looking for a more light-hearted viewing experience? We’ve got you covered with the Hearthstone Inn-vitationals (HSI)! This series of exhibitions will showcase a variety of fun Hearthstone formats with some of your favorite Hearthstone personalities. Among the invitees will be popular streamers, winners of major tournaments, and celebrities. When a Hearthstone Inn-vitational rolls around, you won’t want to miss the zany antics or “playful banter” that might ensue!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our brief preview of the exciting updates to our Hearthstone esports programs next year. We’ll have many more details to share with you when we officially announce each of the programs next year. We’d also love your feedback! Which program are you most excited about? Let us know by tweeting @PlayHearthstone with the #HCT, #HGG, or #HSI hashtags.