Tournament organiser ESL Gaming has partnered with Blizzard Entertainment to create and operate Hearthstone’s esports ecosystem for the next two years.
The deal will see all of Hearthstone’s major tournaments be affected, such as Grandmasters and the Hearthstone Masters Tours. Additionally, the circuit will entail a total prize pool of $3m (~ £2,19m) per calendar year.
Michael Van Driel, Senior Vice President Game Management at ESL Gaming, commented on the partnership: “We are delighted to strengthen our relationship with Blizzard through this two year Hearthstone partnership”
“Operating the game ecosystem is a great move for ESL and Hearthstone. Fans around the world can look forward to an exciting two years ahead.”
The announcement follows on from ESL’s existing agreements with StarCraft II and Warcraft III, both of which are owned by Blizzard. According to the release, the new partnership ‘strengthens the connection between the two brands’.
Alongside operating the Hearthstone esports ecosystem, the agreement gives ESL an opportunity to introduce ESL and DreamHack branded competitions into its partnership with Blizzard over the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
ESL and DreamHack had been sister companies owned by Modern Times Group (MTG) since 2015, however, in September 2020 both entities merged under the ESL Gaming umbrella. Despite merging, the two firms remained separate brands to target their respective audiences.
Esports Insider says: Choosing ESL Gaming as an operator of Hearthstone’s esports structure is a logical choice for Blizzard and it should be a positive development for the game’s esports ecosystem. In addition, the partnership continues to strengthen the growing relationship between ESL and Blizzard.