Blizzard will be implementing a handful of changes to help fans take their games more seriously in the competitive world. Since Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Starcraft and World of Warcraft are all low on the totem pole of eSports, it seems like Hearthstone is Blizzard’s best chance to gain traction. Here’s what will be implemented in the coming months:
Seasonal Championships are now Global
This is the first of the bigger changes announced, and it should be a blast. There will now be a World Champion of each season as each region sends four representatives to the championship, which will have the similar structure to the World Championship now. This is a great way to add excitement and significance to each season as Hearthstone becomes so much more entertaining as you get to see the global differences in meta games clash. You could argue that it puts Seasonal Championships on too similar of a level to the World Championship, but the money awarded keep the significant of the two well apart.
An eSports Initiative
Two new eSports programs are being introduced, Inn-vitationals and Global Games, which should help generate interest in all aspects of the game.
Inn-vitationals: Hearthstone is supposed to be fun right, remember? Inn-vitationals are not some new high-level league coming to force the best players in the world to battle it out for a bunch of money. It is a fun and quirky format of Hearthstone that will have pros, celebrities and personalities battle it out with innovative and zany rules. This is a nice breath of fresh air from stale meta games and continually watching the same decks battle it out with mistake free play. Hearthstone is a game, have some fun!
Global Games: FINALLY! For those who remember watching the Archon Team League hosted by Team Archon (R.I.P.), you remember watching the most entertaining Hearthstone league ever. For those who didn’t watch, you are wondering how Hearthstone could ever be taken seriously as a team eSport. Well you are in for a treat as Global Games will be teams of four from their respective region battling it out WEEKLY. More competitions is exactly what Hearthstone needs and if it can come in an organized league, even better. Well done Blizzard.
Revamping the Quality of Life
The total prize pool for next year will be over $2 million USD, an increase in over $1 million. A million extra dollars is nice because everybody loves more money, but I really wouldn’t say it symbolizes any extra focus on Hearthstone as an eSport. The prize pool still pales in comparison to the prize pools of other major tournaments, like The International 6 getting over $20 million. As much as I would love to see portions of each card pack sold to be funneled into a prize pool, I won’t get my hopes up. However, this is still a great nod to Blizzard recognizing the sustained success Hearthstone has seen.
Same goes for the news that the World Championship will take place in early 2018 to better match up with the real Standard Season. This is just more of a scheduling update than news. It is a logical change as the move helps to close out the Standard Season. Like how the Super Bowl marks the end of the football season, the World Championship will end that standard season of Hearthstone. Additionally, viewership won’t overlap with League of Legends’ Worlds season.
Change to Hearthstone Championship Tour points
We have yet to hear the specifics of how they will adjust the distribution of points, but it is done in an effort to spread points around to more players. Hearthstone has always advertised the idea that ‘Anybody can be a pro,’ and this supports that claim. More players will now have chances to compete in Last Call Invitationals and Tavern Hero tournament instead of points being fed to those already crowned champion.
The future is bright for Hearthstone. Standard Season keeps the meta fair and dynamic while still experiencing exciting adjustments throughout the year when new cards are introduced. And now Hearthstone is going to have a Blizzard-directed organized league to follow, global championships multiple times a year and even light hearted events to keep the game fun. What is most promising about the announcements is the fact that Blizzard is investing their eSports future into Hearthstone. After losing traction on their other titles, Blizzard is going all in on Hearthstone, and when that happens, the gamers win.