Hearthstone World Championship 2016 will likely have a multi-major circuit, similar to Dota 2
We’re still a month and a half away from the 2016 season of Hearthstone, but details – though yet to be confirmed – are surfacing.
HWC 2016 might be heading towards a major restructuring compared to its predecessors. The 2014 and 2015 seasons had a very linear progression, with year-long gathering of points through ladder and selected tournaments, all culminating with the $250,000 grand final event at Blizzcon. The World Championship itself remained Blizzard’s only direct involvement in tournament organization, the company taking a very hands-off approach for the rest of the year, mostly issuing tournament licenses and allocating HWC points to candidates.
According to one Blizzcon finalist, however, this might all change with the coming year. In an interview with GosuGamers, SEA champion Lan “Neilyo” Tran spoke of some of Blizzard’s plan told to him in person.
While official statement is lacking from Blizzard at this point, what Neilyo speaks of is more than likely. During Blizzcon, the Blizzard team announced the restructuring of their Heroes of the Storm world championship to include three global majors in three different regions, each with a prize pool equal to that of the World Championship itself. Europe, North America, Korea, China, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Australia/New Zealand are to be the regions taking part in said circuit.
The changes to the Heroes World Championship were very reminiscent to Valve’s own approach to Dota 2. The company announced their plans to improve the competitive landscape in April this year, introducing a trifecta of marquee “majors” leading up to The International, Dota 2’s crown event. Valve’s increased engagement in their esport came following criticism from players and personalities alike, who have been expressing concerns about detrimental phenomena such as the tournament oversaturation and the entropic re-shuffles following the end of The International.
Blizzard themselves have been under fire for how they’ve handled certain aspects of their 2015 championships. Tempo Storm’s manager Jared “Zoia” Eggleston has gone on record to talk about the negative effect the long roster locks have had on his team, amplifying an already existing discord within the line-up. These rules, at the same time, were not applied to other regions, and China's Braveheart attended the World Championships, having borrowed two players from Edward Gaming. The Hearthstone championship, on the other hand, has been criticized on a number of points, including the distribution of HWC points between ladder and tournaments, opaqueness of their ruleset and handling of player bans and hard to follow storylines, among other things.
A well-structured and executed circuit of majors could be the solution to a lot, if not all of Blizzard’s problems when it comes to the competitive side of their games. According to Neilyo, this could also have a positive effect on raising the level of competition at the final stage.
There’s no indication when more details on the 2016 plans for Hearthstone can be expected, including structure, location and prize pools of the major events, if what Neilyo speaks of indeed comes to pass, but maybe it won’t be too long. Held at the end of November, DreamHack Winter is slated to give out the first points for HWC 2016 and it would make sense to learn their application around that time.