The new year is coming and Hearthstone is on a roll
2018 was a pretty good year for Hearthstone as an esport. Just last month, Team China managed to beat the expected champ Brazil in the Grand Finals of the Hearthstone Global Games at BlizzCon in California.
It was a big upset and fans were excited. There are also now two seasonal champs at the Summer and Fall Championships – more than 200.000 players attended a total of 25 Tour stops and other major events around the globe, plus many, many more that simply play the game for fun at home. Those are some pretty impressive numbers – by the end of the year, Blizzard will have paid out some $2.8 million in prize money alone.
Blizzard, being a pretty good developer, spent the year listening to fans about how to improve some of the issues Hearthstone faces as an esport. Things like not being accessible enough for newcomers, being hard to sustain for pros, and overly difficult tournament rules have all been noted.
As of next year, there will be some pretty big changes coming. With the season drawing to a close, a new three-tier competitive system will launch. It will consist of qualifiers, live global tournaments and an exclusive top tier. Spiting the nearly $3 million from this year, the overall prize moneys Blizzard expects to pay next year are around the $4 million mark. During the year, hundreds of small qualifier tournaments will help select the best players. Winning one of them grants you access to the second tier – the live global tournaments. These will be invite only (aka, invite by qualification) and aim to include a broad variety of players from across the globe, both pro and non-pro players included. The first three of these 2nd tier events will feature $250.000 prize money per tournament.
The winners of these tournaments then advance to the third and final stage – a round-robin online competition split into regional divisions and featuring nothing but the top players in the world. It’ll begin after the HCT World Championship and will end in a big finale at the end of the year.
Further details aren’t known yet – dates, participants, how and where to sign up etc, is still to be determined. Since technically the year isn’t quite done yet, it’s probably no surprise to know that we’ll have to wait for early 2019 to learn more. The first events likely won’t be until Spring next year, meaning there is plenty of time left for Blizzard to work out the finer details of it all.
Oh, and if you’re an avid point-collector, you’ll be happy to hear about something else: Points gathered this year haven’t expired on the 1st as expected, but stay with you until the 31st of March next year. Until then, you’ll be able to collect more points, raise your ranking and get closer to some pretty nifty benefits!