Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft fans clearly have a lot to look forward to in the next year, as there are a whole host of changes coming to the Hearthstone Championship Tour, not to mention two brand new esports programs as well.
The Hearthstone Championship Tour is the central feature in the Hearthstone schedule, as it was introduced last year and this year faces some changes based on community feedback, including global Season Championships, which combine regional Season Championships into global ones. Each of these will occur in one host region and held in venues so that fans can cheer on their side.
There are also Season Playoffs which replace the regional Season Preliminaries, and each of the four regions, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and China, will send four representatives to the Season Championships each season. The Playoffs will be more competitive to qualify for and also include deeper prizing, rewarding more participants.
Another effort being made is to align the Hearthstone Championship Tour tournaments with the game's standard year and its content releases. That means that each of the global Season Championships will take place during its own content cycle and that the next World Championship will happen at the end of the upcoming standard year in early 2018.
The changes don't stop there though. The amounts of points earned from tournaments and ranked play will be adjusted as well, distributing them more evenly and including more players. The cup system has also been tweaked as well. Competitive points from ranked play begins with the November standard ranked play, so there's not long to wait for that.
Lastly, in terms of prize pool, next year there's over $2 million US dollars at stake in the Hearthstone Championship Tour, and the World Championship will have a $1 million dollar prize pool. Each Season Championship will also have a cool $250,000 prize pool, too, and the Season Playoffs will have at least $20,000 in prizing.
As if all those changes to the HCT weren't enough to get fans excited, there are also two new programs that have been announced. The first of these is the Hearthstone Global Games, featuring teams from various countries battling weekly in a global league, and each team in the HGG will be formed of the top competitive point earner from the country and three community-voted teammates.
The second of these is the Hearthstone Inn-vitationals, a series of exhibitions showcasing a variety of formats in the game with some Hearthstone personalities. These will include popular streamers, tournament winners and celebrities, and we are promised that "playful banter" might ensue.
More details will be announced next year on all of these, but this is enough to get the mouth of any Hearthstone fan watering. More information can be found over at the official blog. Which of these two new features sounds best?