Looking ahead to raiding and WoW esports in 2021
World of Warcraft is still going strong more than a decade and a half after its release in 2004. The esports side has slowly gained momentum over the years, and Blizzard is finally ready to give it some love. While the WoW esport is much smaller than the general MMO side, it has plenty of fans – and it will continue to go strong in the upcoming year.
Both the Arena World Championship and the Mythic Dungeon International are coming back and undergoing some changes next year. Furthermore, guilds actively pursue their own content schedules with raiding (Race to World First) and Classic PvP competitions. Based on how things are currently outlined, we are going into a very strong expansion for WoW Esports.
Changes to MDI and AWC
The 2020 roadmap was largely executed even with all the challenges this past year has brought upon the world. Coming into 2021, Blizzard is not backing down from the competitive side of the game as the new content is also created with the competitive side in mind. On the 14th of December, Blizzard announced their upcoming plans for their WoW Shadowlands esports year.
The 14th year of the AWC will see not one but two seasons of PvP competition, culminating in the AWC: Shadowlands 2021 Grand Finals with a pretty impressive $900k prize pool.
The first season will allow signups from North America and Europe – each of the four smaller cup events will have its own $10k prize pool, and teams gain points along with money and the top eight teams from both regions will compete in the Circuit – that is a 4-week round robin with a prize pool of $160k. The top 4 teams from each region after that move on to the Season finals, where they can get $200k.
Season 2 will see the top 6 regional teams competing, along with additional teams selected by the Relegation cup – an open tournament that affords the other teams a chance to compete in the top tiers.
As for the Mythic Dungeon International – it will see the new Shadowlands dungeons of course, but more importantly, the competition series will remove the regional separations, meaning that it will instead be one major global competition… with the exception of China. China will be its own distinct region, while the rest of the world competes together.
There will be two standalone seasons in 2021, each with its own standalone Global Finals event. The prize pool across the year will be another $750k, separate from the $900k for the AWC.
WoW Esports from the community side
In addition to the two main series, there will also be two one-off tournaments in between the MDI seasons – these will let players go through the Shadowlands dungeons in unique ways – they’re meant to showcase different competitive formats, but more details have not yet been revealed. What has been, is the next seasonal affix: Prideful! While it’s active, players will gain pride as they defeat enemies, until they gain a Manifestation of Pride – when they manage to defeat that, they will be empowered and be even more of a force in their dungeons.
The more important part are the guild driven Race to World First raiding events, featuring the world’s best guilds. For over a decade the pride and glory in the WoW community goes the best Mythic raiding guild in WoW. Be it Method, Limit or Big Dumb Guild, the community has been witnessing a few guilds carry the entire competitive raiding aspect on their backs.
Europe has a news addition to the competitive ecosystem in the form of Echo, a raiding guild built by former Method members and more importantly champion players in both the AWC and MDI. With more then three large guilds vying for supremacy in competitive World of Warcraft, we are in for a strong year in the Shadowlands.
The, Castle Nathria Mythic Race to World First is still going with Limit and Echo tightly ahead of BDGG and Method. In the end, esports betting is slowly being explored for competitive WoW as well. The way the current ecosystem is going forward has bookmakers exploring ways to add betting markets related to WoW fairly soon.