Hearthstone Grandmasters are back!

The first 2020 season of the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament series is back – with a global kick-off this Friday, April 17th. Tournaments will take place each weekend, Friday through Sunday, all the way until June 7th.

You can watch the tournaments taking place on the official Hearthstone YouTube channels, of course, and if you’d rather play yourself than watch, there is something new in the game for you too. A new class is joining competitive play!

Hearthstone Grandmasters are back!

© Hearthstone Grandmasters

The 2020 event(s)

After three pretty successful tours in 2019, this is the first entirely online one. Previous iterations took place in Las Vegas, Seoul, and Bucharest – this time it’s all virtual. In order to support all of this, Blizzard is making sure that as many fans as possible can watch and enjoy the events – local language streams, for example, will be available in English, Korean, Mandarin, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arab, French, and Russian.

Additionally, there will be three teams of two casters for each of the three regions – the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

Format

Throughout the eight weeks that the season is going to last, things will be a bit different from before. The first three weeks will feature Swiss-style tournaments on Wednesdays and Thursdays in order for players to earn their spots in the weekend group stages. The gameplay format will be different every week, and the points from each weekend round will help determine the two Divisions for each region that will participate in weeks 4-7.

Said weeks 4-7 will be held Round Robin style – each region will have two divisions, just like previous Grandmasters season. Division A will feature the top 8 players of each region, while spots 9-16 will fill Division B.

The final week will have the Season 1 Playoffs. One player per region will qualify for the World Championship at the end of the year. For the playoffs, the top 6 from Division A make it in, while the top 4 from Division B will also join. The winners of the playoffs automatically qualify for the World Championships, though that isn’t the only way to get there.

Grandmaster Contestants

The competitors in this season feature many familiar names – Bunnyhoppor, Fr0zen, PapJason, and Tom60229 are all back for more, as is Viper. The winners are anything but certain though – there is a lot of talent at play this season.

We can still expect to see some familiar names during the play-offs, and ultimately at the World Championships end of the year – at least we hope so!

The game

As for changes to the game itself, Hearthstone is adding in the new Demon Hunter class to its competitive play for the first time ever. Two cards are banned from competitive play – Whizbang the Wonderful and Zayle, Shadow Cloak.

Other than that, players have free reign – though the rules regarding pre-picking and submitting their decks through official channels remain. Last season, several warnings and punishments were handed out due to violations of these rules – let’s hope that won’t be necessary this time around!

Read next: Hearthstone’s Demon Hunter Released and Nerfed