Sinisa Bucan, October 27, 2016

Hearthstone Championship Tour Brings Major Changes for 2017

This year’s Hearthstone Championship Tour evolved considerably when compared to previous years. Now, Blizzard is looking to take things to another level. As the inaugural Year of the Kraken concludes at BlizzCon next week, major changes to the format are coming before the end of the calendar year.

Hearthstone Championship Tour Is Going Global

The biggest change is that Blizzard has decided to end the regional Season Championships and merge them into the global Season Championships. The goal is to have global clashes throughout the year, not just at the end during BlizzCon. This is a great move, as fans will now have a better understanding of each individual player’s power level on a global stage, rather than their respective region. It will also hopefully eliminate some of the problems found in the secluded China region which has, up until now, been playing under its own rules.

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Each global Season Championship will be hosted in a different region. More importantly, they will be held at venues that allow fans to attend and cheer for their favorite players. Regional Season Preliminaries have been replaced with regional Season Playoffs. Each of the four regions (Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and China) will have four representatives at the Season Championships. The Season Playoffs will use the Swiss Tournament format; the Tavern Heroes format will continue to be used, but will be more competitive and will include more prizes for participants.

Championships Will Be Synced with Standard

The Standard format was definitely a great introduction when it comes to competitive Hearthstone. However, it was sometimes problematic because Championships weren’t always aligned with the arrival of new expansions and adventures. For example, one regional Season Championship was able to use cards from the first wing of One Night in Karazhan, whereas the next Championship used cards from the second wing as well. Blizzard recognized the problem and has tackled the issue head-on. Going forward, HCT tournaments will be aligned with planned content releases, meaning that each of the global Season Championships will take place during its own content cycle.

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The intention here is to keep things on a level-playing field while ensuring the tournament is meta fresh and exciting. This change also means that the next Hearthstone World Championship will not be taking place at BlizzCon in November 2017, but in early 2018 at the end of the Standard year.

More Money, More Problems

We’re sure players will still take the money, as the total Hearthstone Championship Tour prize pool will amount to over $2 million USD. The World Championship will once again have a prize pool of $1 million USD, whereas each Season Championship will distribute $250,000 USD. Blizzard claims that each Season Playoffs will have “at least” $20,000 USD in prize money in an effort to reward more participants.

Global Games and Inn-vitationals

Blizzard is introducing a global league they’re calling the Hearthstone Global Games (HGG). This format will see teams of players from various countries battling it out on a weekly basis. Each team will consist of the top competitive point earner from their country and three additional players from the same country voted in by fans.

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Hearthstone fans that aren’t into the competitive scene have something to look forward to as well. The Hearthstone Inn-vitationals is set to be a more lighthearted series of exhibition matches. These events will showcase popular streamers, major tournament winners, and even celebrities. Blizzard promises “zany antics and playful banter,” if that’s your sort of thing.

All of these changes and new additions prove that Hearthstone is a massive success and that Blizzard is committed to both the professional scene and the more casual audience. We certainly can’t wait to see how it all plays out, beginning with the rumored announcement of the next expansion at BlizzCon next week. Speaking of which, don’t forget to tune in to the Hearthstone World Championship 2016, which is already under way.

Sinisa Bucan

Siniša is a writer and translator from Croatia, a small European country on the Adriatic coast. Apart from being a passionate Hearthstone player, he enjoys all kinds of video games, including strategy, role-playing, adventure, and action. Other interests include listening to indie rock and travelling. You can follow him @SinisaBucan.