Big Hearthstone Esports Changes For 2017

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Hearthstone esports will be even bigger in 2017. Not only will there be a bigger Championship Tour, but there will be other global events as well.

Due to the success of the 2016 Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT), it is easy to forget that this is only the third year of competitive Hearthstone. Blizzard have been working hard on improving this for 2017, and have recently announced their plans for next year.

The changes to the HCT itself are pretty spectacular. There will be a global Season Championship instead of regional ones, and they will be held at locations that allow spectators, rather than in a closed studio. Season Championships will include 4 players from each region (Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and China). These players will be decided using regional Playoffs (to replace Preliminaries), and they will use the Swiss Tournament format. 

The Championships will be synched with Standard. This should mean that the meta is always fresh during the Championship events, and will hopefully reward deckbuilding. Magic: The Gathering uses this format already, and it is something that should greatly benefit Hearthstone viewing. On top of these changes, points and cups have been tidied up, and the prize pool for the year has been set at $2 million.

There will also be Hearthstone Global Games, which is a world team league featuring teams from different countries, and Inn-vitationals, which will include streamers and celebrities in a more light hearted setting.

I think that these changes will make a huge difference to our viewing experience in 2017. What do you think? As always, feel free to comment below.


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Now, that the World Championship is over, I'm coming to the conclusion tournament changes for Hearthstone are much needed, and these are pretty much what the doctor ordered.

The first major flaw was that people who qualified for Blizzcon during Winter did so playing literally another format that had very little in common with what was there. Granted, this did not affect the outcome of the event (no spoilers) - these players looked good in current Standard - but the point still stands. If you want your World Championship to be a multi-format challenge (like Worlds in M:TG are) - then state in clearly and follow your patterns consistently.

Swiss implemention is a change that I'm asking for the most, because small brackets showcase a little in a game with random elements. In M:TG, when you go to the highest level of a competition - Pro Tour, for example, you have to get through Fifteen. Rounds. Of Magic. That's 15 hours of your best play over two days, which takes not only great skill but incredible fortitude, physical and/or mental, as well. And 12-3-1 puts you in just in a Top 8. That's just Heroic Brawl level.

When you are in a 4-man group following 8-man bracket, you can just highroll through the whole thing. Try doing it in 15+ series, not 6. I'm not spoiling anything or voicing opinions on the matter (yet), but this can realistically happen.

And consistency is something that's pushed as a main quality of "e-sports" in Hearthstone. What is perceived as outstanding, professional level play is not mechanics in "traditional" e-sports games - like Starcraft, CS or DotA - HS asks you to engage in a battle of wits in a huge variety of situations with a huge sample. That's how Legend system works, and in my opinion, it's rather a good way of measuring level of play - because factors other that ability to make good decisions and think well are eliminated. Swiss in Tournaments will do the same - and that's a win-win, because hey, Blizzard get a ton of Hearthstone to broadcast, and we get a ton of Hearthstone to watch. 

I hope, though, that they won't still tournament system from M:TG absolutely, because Pro Tours have their problems, being not exactly top tier tournaments, but rather big, flashy commercials for new sets. But this discussion does not really belong here ;)

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