Blizzard Entertainment has revealed a new structure for competitive Hearthstone in 2022.
The updated structure will feature a total prize pool of $3m (~£2.27m), an expanded World Championship, and a greater focus on Hearthstone’s ‘wider ecosystem’, according to a release.
The Hearthstone esports system will include two seasons in 2022. Season 1, which is set to run from February to March, will be split into three regions (Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe) and will see 48 players with a Grandmaster title competing in a shortened four-week tournament. The winner of each region will advance to the 2022 World Championship.
Season 2, which is titled Grandmasters: Last Call, will contain 16 advancing players — the top four from each region and top four by Masters Tour Points — in a global competition for a seed in the 2022 World Championship.
The 2022 World Championship will feature 16 players battling for a share of the $500,000 (~£377,000) prize pool. Besides four spots for Grandmasters, eight spots will be seeded from Season Championships and four spots are allocated for Chinese players.
There will be a total of six Masters Tour online competitions throughout 2022, which will qualify towards one of the two Seasonal Championships, each with a $50,000 (~£37,700) prize pool. The number of qualifiers per Masters Tour event was reduced to 60, while the number of ladder invites was expanded to 150.
The first Masters Tour of 2022 is set to take place from February 18th – 20th, with further details yet to be announced.
The Hearthstone Grandmasters programme, which debuted in 2019, will be scrapped after the completion of the two final seasons in 2022. According to the release, the Grandmasters programme does ‘does not align with [Blizzard’s] goals for the program’, and focus will instead be devoted to the wider ecosystem.
Distinct from the Hearthstone esports ecosystem, Blizzard Entertainment has also introduced the new Battlegrounds: Lobby Legends series.
Throughout 2022, top-ranked players from the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and China will be able to compete for a share of a $500,000 (~£377,000) prize pool spread across multiple one-off events.
Esports Insider says: 2022 sounds like it will be a busy year for Hearthstone esports, which is certainly a good thing for the game’s esports ecosystem. Hearthstone esports is operated by ESL Gaming based on its two-year agreement with Blizzard, so it will be interesting to see how these changes impact the ecosystem and if Blizzard chooses to extend its contract with ESL Gaming once the deal expires at the end of 2022.