Posted in Hearthstone

Hearthstone Championship Tour to introduce more international tournaments, global league in 2017

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The 2017 Hearthstone Championship Tour will feature a number of major changes from its 2016 rendition that will place more of a focus on international events and more competitive tournament formats, Blizzard announced Wednesday.
Instead of regional championships, every season will have a Global Season Championship that will see four players from each region (Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and China) battle it out for a portion of the tournament’s $250,000 prize pool. The regional representatives at each championship will be determined by Season Playoffs in their respective homelands, which will replace 2016’s seasonal preliminaries. Previously, the main international Blizzard-hosted event was the Hearthstone World Championship at BlizzCon.
The Season Playoffs will use the Swiss format rather than the double-elimination bracket used in 2016’s preliminaries, meaning players will face off against opponents with identical records and will not be eliminated as quickly. While the announcement didn’t go into details, Blizzard says that the playoffs will be “more competitive to qualify for, and include deeper prizing to reward more participants.” Blizzard also says the Tavern Heroes system, where players qualified for 2016’s preliminary rounds through sanctioned local tournaments, will be included in the 2017 format in some way.
In addition to the Global Championships and Season Playoffs, Blizzard will be introducing the Hearthstone Global Games, where teams of four from various countries will compete in a weekly league. While three members of each team will be decided by a community vote, one slot will be reserved for the top points-earner in each country.
Changes are also being made to how HCT championship points are earned, with points from tournaments and ranked ladder finishes being brought closer in line. Blizzard says they want the system to include more players and will also be making changes to the Open Cups system, which are fan-organized open tournaments that award HCT points.
HCT’s scheduling is also being tweaked to fall closer in line with the Standard format’s release cycle. In Hearthstone’s current system, once the first expansion of a new year is released, all expansions from two years ago are cycled out of the Standard format in one fell swoop. Blizzard is planning for each of the Global Season Championships to fall into its own content cycle, with the next World Championship taking place in early 2018 before the Standard format cycles again.
The prize pool for HCT 2017 will also be expanded to over $2 million dollars, with $1 million allocated to the World Championship, $250,000 for each of the Global Season Championships, and at least $20,000 for the Season Playoffs. 2016’s prize pool also had $1 million for the World Championship and $100,000 for each of the nine Season Championships across NA, EU and APAC.
Outside of its competitive events, HCT 2017 will also feature exhibitions called Hearthstone Inn-vitationals, where guests ranging from streamers, tournament winners and celebrities will compete in less formal, fun Hearthstone formats.

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