Blizzard Entertainment Announces Hearthstone Esports 2022 Changes

Blizzard Entertainment revealed this morning the entire Hearthstone esports system is getting an overhaul as they head into 2022. The team dropped a ton of information, which we have for you down below, in which they detail many of the changes that will be implemented starting in January. While a lot of the basics have remained the same, the key focuses will be tourney structure, qualifiers, and what essentially defines where you're placed moving forward to better facilitate events both in-person and online. Things are going to get very interesting when everything kicks off on January 7th with the Masters Tour.

Blizzard Entertainment Announces Hearthstone Esports 2022 Changes
Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Hearthstone World Championship

A key goal for this year is to expand opportunities for players to reach the World Championship. One piece of feedback we have heard from the community is players felt reaching the culminating tournament had become nearly unattainable, even for the best players. Many of the changes coming in 2022 feed directly into resolving this issue.

Toward this end, we are expanding to 16 players that will face off for their shot to join the Hall of Champions and the lion's share of the $500,000 (USD) prize pool. Grandmasters will also no longer be the sole arbiter of invites. Throughout the year, four Grandmasters will advance to the World Championship, along with another four players from China, and the final eight spots will go to the best players across the Masters Tour through Season Championship events. Let's go in-depth on how Grandmasters and the Masters Tour fit within this new World Championship structure!

Masters Tours & Masters Seasonal Championships

As the core competitive element to the esports scene, we are leveling up the stakes for the 2022 Masters Tour. To qualify for a Masters Tour, we have adjusted how invites are earned: Qualifiers in 2022 are being reduced to 60 per Masters Tour and played across three weekends for each Masters Tour. Ladder invites are expanding to 150 per Masters Tour. With ladder being a more convenient way to participate in Hearthstone Esports for many players, we believe this change will better serve competitors' time commitment to the scene.

All six Masters Tours qualify toward one of two Seasonal Championships, with the first three tournaments feeding into the Masters Summer Championship and the final three feeding into the Masters Fall Championship. Each event will feature the top 16 players from their respective Masters Tours: the winner of each tournament and the top 13 with the most match wins across all three events. Players will be competing for their share of a $50,000 prize pool per event as well as invites to the World Championship, with the top four players at each Seasonal Championship advancing on. Players will be able to track their progress on the updated Masters Tour Points page.

The first Masters Tour of 2022 will take place February 18 – 20! We'll share more details, including Qualifier, Ladder, and broadcast schedule for the remaining five Masters Tours, throughout 2022. For now, here are some of the ways you can snag an invite to the first Masters Tour of the year:

  • Win one of 60 online Masters Qualifiers between January 7 and January 23 on Battlefy.
  • Have a Top 50-win rate over 10 Qualifiers without winning.
  • Top 32 finishers at Masters Tour Undercity that don't already have an invite.
  • Place Top 50 Legend on the in-game Ladder in January within Americas, Asia-Pacific, or Europe (see official Masters Qualifiers rules for details).
  • Be a Hearthstone Grandmaster.

All 2022 Masters Tours will be held as online-only tournaments. We know how disappointed all our players are at not being able to experience these tournaments together in one place, and the entire Hearthstone Esports team shares that feeling. While the Masters Tours are going to remain online for now, we are targeting an in-person event for both the Masters Fall Championship and World Championship. Over the coming months we will have more news on the viability of these onsite events, and whatever we decide will be with the sole intention of ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of everyone involved.

Blizzard Entertainment Announces Hearthstone Esports 2022 Changes
Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Grandmasters

Hearthstone Grandmasters was originally envisioned as the pinnacle of Hearthstone Esports. Over the last two years, we have listened to a lot of feedback from viewers, players of all levels, and the Grandmasters themselves. As we look toward the future of competitive Hearthstone, we have concluded that Grandmasters does not align with our goals for the program. Despite improving the program through numerous changes over the years, we have decided to sunset Grandmasters and devote greater focus on the wider ecosystem. Grandmasters will conclude with two final seasons in 2022.

Season 1, running this February and March, will consist of all 48 Grandmasters competing in a truncated four-week season. Similar to all previous seasons, the winner of each region will advance to the 2022 World Championship. Instead of relegating a few players while the rest advance to another season, only the top four from each region will advance to Season 2. Season 2, Grandmasters: Last Call, will feature the top four of each Season 1 region, joined by the top four players by Masters Tour Points from the last three Masters Tours of 2021 and the first three of 2022. This group will form a singular 16-player global region. The final four-week season will feature high-stakes matches, with the winner advancing to the 2022 World Championship. We'll have more information on the specific format for Season 1 in February!

Hearthstone Battlegrounds

Distinct from the competitive constructed ecosystem, we are thrilled to introduce the new Battlegrounds: Lobby Legends! Throughout 2022, players will be able to compete for a share of a $500,000 (USD) prize pool spread across multiple one-off events. Lobby Legends is an opportunity for us to fully explore what works best for a new Battlegrounds program, and we are excited to find new ways to have fun with our broadcasts over the next year. Each Lobby Legends will be a global event, featuring top Ladder players from Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and China. Day 1 will feature group play, with players receiving points each match based on final standing. The top players from each group will advance to a second-day playoff. We'll have details on specific events dates and qualifying schedules in the coming months!

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Gavin SheehanAbout Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.
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