Thursday, Blizzard (finally) made an announcement about Hearthstone esports in 2019. The announcement was published just mere days before the new season starts. Massive changes all around are coming to Hearthstone and will affect many current professional and semi-professional players.
Some of you might remember the days when Hearthstone was completely based around open cups. The organization of the events back then was simply a disaster. Any company or website that wanted to run these events was able to. This caused (as is to be expected) many delays and issues with the events and the admins running them. Thankfully this time will be different, where there will be one main platform, which is yet to be announced. The tournaments itself will be run by Blizzard Entertainment themselves.
The online qualifiers will be the main way to qualify for live tournaments. Tour stops will be replaced with three large live events throughout the year. In addition, there will be invite-only events and a monthly tournament with top players and tournament winners, where they will be competing for their share of the $4 million prize pool in 2019.
One of the pro players who was quick to post his thoughts on the new changes was G2’s Radu “RDU” Dima. He tweeted, “F*CK YEAH FINALLY! I also like the rest of the announcement, seems like a good and more sustainable plan for the years to come!” The tweet came accompanied with a picture of the notion that the Conquest format will be retired from Hearthstone esports in 2019.
The Conquest format has long been controversial among competitors. The main reason people dislike the format is that it is far more limiting than Last Hero Standing in lineup possibilities. However, that same argument is used by people who enjoy Conquest who claim that it is much more interesting to try to figure out a counter to the popular lineup, rather than just bringing four of the best decks to a tournament.
What format will be used in the tournament scene of Hearthstone in 2019 is yet to be announced. Rumors are that we might use the same format that China will be using: best-of-3 with a single deck, with side-boarding tech cards. The western community has pushed strongly against this since it would limit Hearthstone way more than is required.
Our first impressions are similar to Jon “Orange” Westberg who tweeted: “Overall it looks good and I’m happy about most changes.
I never liked Conquest but a little worried they’re not telling us what it will be instead.”
Overall the changes are positive for Hearthstone in the long run. While the constant massive changes are hurting it in the short term, finding the right format is what needs to happen if Hearthstone wants to keep succeeding in the current esports scene.
This is a sentiment shared by Simon “Crane333” Raunholst, who tweeted this late Thursday: “What I hope more than anything after the announcement is that we finally have a system that is good enough to last more than 1 season instead of a complete make-over. It feels very disruptive but has been necessary due to not having found the right system yet.”
The changes announced this Thursday will be good for the viewers at home, as it should be much easier to stay up to date with the tournament scene. Now that they will be more limited, this should result in better viewer numbers for the streams.
For more Hearthstone coverage, check out our coverage of the rumors surrounding the Chinese Hearthstone Team League.
I’m Arend Zijdenbos, from the Netherlands. Gamer for as long as I can remember. My current focus is further improving at esports journalism. Currently, I write for Daily Esports and PCInvasion. For more of me, find me on twitter @Azijdenbos.