Blizzard, in cooperation with ESL and DreamHack, are revamping and expanding their Real Time Strategy (RTS) esports program. This includes an overhaul of the StarCraft II infrastructure and the introduction of a Warcraft III: Reforged circuit.
This is a three-year deal between Blizzard, ESL, and DreamHack, featuring a total of $4.6M prize pool, of which $1.8M will be given out the first year.
StarCraft II esports circuit in 2020
The major change here is that the StarCraft II World Finals will no longer be at Blizzcon. Instead, the tournament will move to the iconic IEM Katowice event, usually taking place February-March each year, and which is one of the crown events in not just StarCraft’s but also CS:GO’s annual circuit.
The 2020 StarCraft II circuit is layered, with players climbing all the way up to the Masters events — the top level of competition, which in the end will seed a total of 36 players (11 from ESL Pro Tour in the West, 9 from Korea, and 16 from the Play-in Stage) to the Masters Championship at IEM Katowice 2021 (the new World Championship).
According to caster Shaun “Apollo” Clark, Blizzard are no longer in full control of StarCraft II esports and ESL and DreamHack will be given more creative freedoms. For fans and experts who’ve long criticized Blizzard’s tight stranglehold of their esport — often to the point of stifling grassroots and third-party events — this should come as good news.
Warcraft III: Reforged esports in 2020
Warcraft III: Reforged’s release date is January 20, and already an esports circuit is being prepared. It won’t be as big as StarCraft’s and will feature a total of four events — Anaheim, Feb. 21-23; Jönköping, Jun. 12-14; Rotterdam, Oct. 16-18; and a yet unannounced August event — culminating with a World Championship at the end of 2020. The date of the World Championship not being 2021 (like StarCraft II’s) could suggest a Blizzcon-hosted event, or that it’s going to DreamHack Winter, DreamHack’s crown event of the year.
Warcraft III’s World Championship will feature a $100,000 prize pool, split between 16 players.