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Hearthstone Masters & Specialist Format Announced

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Hearthstone esports are receiving a major overhaul in 2019 with the whole program being renamed into Hearthstone Masters and the completely new Specialist format being introduced.

As we already know, Hearthstone Masters will have a three-tier structure. The online Masters Qualifiers will run each week with almost 30 tournaments per week available so everyone can join at a time that suits them. These Qualifiers will award card packs to winners, who can then qualify to the corresponding Masters Tour event.

The second stage is the live global Masters Tour tournaments, which will take place in specific locations all around the globe. The first one is set to happen in Las Vegas on March 5, with Asia and Europe stops following as the year continues. The first Tour stop offers a prize pool of $250,000, while Blizzard will add later into the year a unique esports bundle so fans can contribute to the prize pool.

Lastly, the third tier is called Hearthstone Grandmasters and Blizzard still has no announcements for it at the time. This is slightly peculiar, since they already waited long enough to announce the aforementioned. Perhaps they are waiting to see how successful Hearthstone Masters is, along with the new format.

Speaking of which, the Specialist format is quite unique and moves away from traditional formats we've known so far. Each player has to bring three 30-card Standard decks of the same class. The secondary and tertiary decks cannot be too different from the primary one, since you can only swap 5 cards from the primary deck. Both players will begin a match with their primary decks, but for the rest of the games they can proceed with any of their three decks.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard Entertainment

Late last year we revealed we were hard at work evolving Hearthstone Esports into a more sustainable, entertaining, and accessible program. Today we are happy to reveal full details about the first two parts of this new program, which we have collectively named Hearthstone Masters.

Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers

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Hearthstone Masters’ entry tier of competition, Masters Qualifiers, are open to all eligible players who want to test their Hearthstone skills. Each week during a Masters Tour qualifying season, Blizzard will run approximately 30 tournaments, hosted through Battlefy, which will allow players to compete at a time that works for them. Battlefy is a global platform that has been a trusted partner of Blizzard’s for several years now, and we look forward to working closely with them to make Masters Qualifiers a success.

 

Winning a Masters Qualifier will earn you an invite to that qualifier’s corresponding Masters Tour event, the second tier of the Hearthstone Masters program detailed below. Online Masters Qualifiers also will award Hearthstone card packs for top-performing competitors. Registration will go live two weeks before each Masters Qualifier is set to begin, with the first tournament scheduled for March 5. Check out the full schedule here; registration already is open for the first tournaments: 

Sign Up!

But that’s not the only way to qualify! For ladder devotees, each month during a Masters Qualifiers season we will publish the top finishers in the Standard Ranked Play Ladder. Eligible players who end the month in the Top 200 will be invited to participate in a Ranked Ladder Qualifier. Each Ranked Ladder Qualifier follows the same rules of an open-entry Masters Qualifier, except the top four finishers will earn a spot at the next Hearthstone Masters Tour event.

Hearthstone Masters Tour

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The first stop on the Hearthstone Masters Tour will be in Las Vegas, at the LINQ hotel, over June 14–16. What are we doing at the LINQ? We’re putting on a huge Hearthstone tournament! For competitors the setup will be familiar. Picture tables wired to the teeth with ethernet, primed for players to prove their merit in Swiss and elimination rounds over three days. There is a $250,000 prize pool, plus the incentive of proving yourself worthy of Hearthstone Grandmaster status—but more on that in a bit.

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That $250,000 could potentially be a lot more. We want to give fans the chance to support Hearthstone Masters directly while getting some awesome in-game items. So later this year, we will introduce a limited-time-only esports bundle in the shop. A portion of all sales will be distributed across the base prize pools of each of the three 2019 Hearthstone Masters Tour events. Keep an eye out for more details about the esports bundle soon.

After our trip to Vegas, the Masters Tour will head to Asia and Europe, with even more destinations planned for 2020. The location and dates for each Masters Tour event will be announced at least two weeks prior to the beginning of their associated Masters Qualifiers season.

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Players can qualify for Masters Tour events in 2019 through multiple routes, including:

  • Winning an online Masters Qualifier
  • Placing in the top four of a Ranked Ladder Qualifier
  • Securing an invitation through licensed third-party tournaments
  • Finishing as a top-performer at a previous Masters Tour event
  • Qualifying through the China Gold Series
  • Finishing out Year of the Raven with at least 120 Hearthstone Competitive Points

Hearthstone Grandmasters

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Last but very much not least we have Hearthstone Grandmasters! We’re not quite ready to announce full details about Hearthstone Grandmasters, including qualifying criteria, but note that one way in which you can be invited to join is via consistent top finishes at Masters Tour events.

Specialist Format

We are sending the Conquest format out with a bang at the 2019 Hearthstone World Championship, starting on April 25. Replacing Conquest will be a new format we’re calling Specialist. We are excited to see how the Specialist format performs when played at the pro level and we’re eager to implement community feedback to improve it as needed throughout 2019. Here’s how the format works:

  • Players submit three decks from the same class.
  • Players designate one deck as a primary deck, then the other two as secondary and tertiary.
  • Secondary and tertiary decks may have up to 5 cards different from the primary deck. For the purposes of this modification, two duplicate cards in the primary deck list count as two cards.
  • Players must play game one of each match with their primary deck.
  • At the beginning of game two and onward, players may decide to keep playing their primary deck, or switch to their secondary or tertiary decks.
  • Deck decisions for games two and three, if necessary, are performed at the start of each game simultaneously and in secret from the opposing player.
  • All Masters Qualifier and Ranked Ladder Qualifier matches will be best-of-three. All matches at Masters Tour events will be best-of-three as well, with the exception of a best-of-five finals.

Please see the Official Rules and Hearthstone Tournament Player Handbook for specific competition rules, eligibility requirements, and other important details. We have used feedback from our viewers and competitive community to make several new updates, including allowing note-taking in official competition, and more.

Good luck, and we hope to see you in a Masters Qualifier soon!

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Heartstone is one of my favorite games, but MTGA has stolen my Cardgame spot for the moment since the current HS meta is terrible and not fun. Wishing for a few things to happen during this year that makes HS alot more fun 😄

New classes, i´ve gotten golden hero portraits on all classes and there is currently nothing for me to chase atm, im alrdy Legend and Arena is a fun passtime. Monk, Demon Hunter and Death Knight is open for new classes, it would introduce something new to the game instead of just more card expansions.

A ranked system for Arena. Currently I play arena to get dust, golden cards or for fun, but what if there was a ranked mode for Arena and you can push for something like Legend there instead of working on getting better keys for better rewards.

The Tournament mode that was mentioned awhile ago, could host Fireside Gatherings easier if people could setup a tournament themself in-game. And could just have a tournament with your friends ofc.

Less dust cost on Old Legendary cards, currently I´ve got no issue with how it works in standard. But if I wanted to play Wild I would prob need to craft all the old legendaries that are currently not in standard and that for the same cost as a Standard Legendary even. Wild is a fun format which reminds me of MTGs Modern format which is the more fun one in my opinion.
 

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If this will be the only format for this year, we will need extra deck slots to try out all classes.

Not sure about specialist though, because Conquest was like an ultimate general competition, while Specialist looks like Raz's Rumble, where you go in alone and have to try one tactic almost without adaptation (no pun intended). Although would agree to have both formats.

Edit: probably a good idea would be to have one for standard and one for wild. Like evolving technology for standard - nobody uses catapults now, but we have rockets (Conquest); and Lost Vikings 2 for wild - or something like Batman Ninja, where modern superhero uses new tricks with old tech (Specialist).

Edited by Yevhen
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On 2/21/2019 at 10:17 PM, Hoods said:

New classes, i´ve gotten golden hero portraits on all classes and there is currently nothing for me to chase atm, im alrdy Legend and Arena is a fun passtime. Monk, Demon Hunter and Death Knight is open for new classes, it would introduce something new to the game instead of just more card expansions.
 

I would recommend abandoning any hope for a Death Knight class. They already stated many times that they have no intention to add new classes. We already had Death Knight heroes for every class recently, and all the cards from Lich King were named Death Knight cards. So even if they suddenly change their minds and add a new class, it's definitely not going to be DK (probably monk).

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