Since Blizzard introduced a proper structure to its Hearthstone esports, the game has been played in multi-class formats. Players would bring three or four decks of different classes and battle it out. Depending on the exact format (Last Hero Standing or Conquest), a deck would either stay or be eliminated after a match.
That’s all about to change. In November, Blizzard announced that it will be retiring Conquest as the main Hearthstone format. Details about what would replace it were revealed today.
The new format is called Specialist. A single-class format, Specialist requires players to bring three decks of the same class. One deck is designated as primary, and the secondary and tertiary decks are then built around that, sharing at least 25 cards with the primary deck.
This is directly inspired by how Magic: The Gathering used to operate for decades. In Magic, a player uses a single 60-card deck but brings a sideboard of 15 cards, swapping cards in and out between games. Since there is no sideboard system in Hearthstone, the players will have to pre-build their lists with the current meta in mind, as well as the counters to their deck.
While this will reduce diversity within matches, Specialist will benefit players who are masters of a certain class. The 5-card-difference limitation should also push players to be innovative within a very small card slot frame.
Specialist will be used throughout Hearthstone’s entire circuit, all the way to Grandmaster competition.