Blizzard has been working to reform and change the way Hearthstone esports works and have now announced the first two parts of the new program. Dubbed the Hearthstone Masters, this new esports program is designed to be “more sustainable, entertaining and accessible.”
There are several tiers when it comes to the Hearthstone Masters, though thankfully, Blizzard has done a great job of explaining how it all works. Essentially, there are the qualifiers, Masters Tour and then Grandmasters. Blizzard has revealed the details of both the Qualifiers and Masters Tour, but has not yet released the information regarding Grandmasters.
It has noted though, that getting an invitation to Hearthstone Grandmasters can be achieved through consistent top finishes at Masters Tour events.
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The Qualifiers are the entry tier to this new esports format and are open to all eligible players. Weekly tournaments will be held by Blizzard through Battlefly and will give players the chance to compete at a range of times. There will be about 30 tournaments per week and should a player win one, they will be invited to join the corresponding Masters Tour event.
Playing in the Masters Qualifiers will also earn players card packs, should they perform well enough. Registration will open for each Masters Qualifier two-weeks before it begins. The first tournament is scheduled to commence on March 6, 2019.
The full schedule is found here.
To register for the Qualifiers, head to the Battlefly page.
Winning through an online qualifier isn’t the only way to earn your place on the Masters Tour though. Every month, during a Qualifiers season, the top-ranked players in Standard Ranked Play will be invited to participate in a Ranked Ladder Qualifier.
Only the top-200 players will be invited and the top four players of the Ranked Ladder Qualifier will earn their place at the Masters Tour.
The Masters Tour is a big, flashy live event and the first will be held in Las Vegas at the LINQ hotel, June 14 through 16. This enormous Hearthstone tournament will host the best players from the Qualifiers and over three days, competitors will need to prove their skills.
The Masters Tour will feature both Swiss and elimination rounds and a $250,000 USD prize pool. However, Blizzard wants to be clear that the $250,000 could be more as special in-game esports bundles will be available in the shop. A portion of these sales will be added to the 2019 Hearthstone Masters Tour prize pools.
Following the event in Las Vegas, the Masters Tour will move to Asia and Europe before more events in 2020. Dates and locations for the Asia and Europe events have yet to be announced, but will be done so two weeks prior to the beginning of the Masters Qualifiers in those regions.
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
Finally, the Conquest format is going “out with a bang” according to Blizzard. At the 2019 Hearthstone World Championship starting in April, Conquest will be replaced with the new Specialist format.
- 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.
For more information on the Specialist Format, check out the video below.
There you have it. Big changes coming to Hearthstone esports, but they certainly sound like good ones. What do you think?