Blizzard announced this morning that both the StarCraft II and Warcraft III ESL Pro Tours will switch to be online competitions. With COVID-19 essentially putting an end to all things 2020, the upcoming tournaments that would have taken place at DreamHack events have been taken out of the convention centers and put online. So now, the ESL Pro Tour will now be held online across three seasons for the remainder of the year. A StarCraft II season will last five weeks while WarCraft III will compete over four, with everything being broadcast compared to just the main tournaments. Additionally, prize money at the grassroots level of the system will be boosted by $36k until January 31, 2021. Here's a quote from the ESL on the changes announced today.
"We are confident that this is the best design that Starcraft II and Warcraft III: Reforged can get in 2020, combining regional & global competition while providing a clear pathway to the Masters Championship of 2021," said Shaun Clark, Senior Product Manager at ESL. "As esports are global and inherently digital, we are uniquely positioned to continue this legacy, hold our tournaments online, and even improve the format for players, fans, and partners. By heavily increasing broadcast hours of the ESL Pro Tour, we aim to deliver even more esports content than before to entertain and support the RTS communities."
The ESL Pro Tour will continue to be tied together through a ranking system all the way until the 2021 Masters Championship. We'll see if the latest changes help send eyes to check out the competitions when they're broadcasted live, seeing as how part of the reason the deal was made between Blizzard, the ESL, and DreamHack was to have live competitions with a crowd to help make the events a standout and benefit everyone involved. Taking out the live crowd equation will hurt in certain ways, but it might benefit them if the broadcasts do well. You can read up more on the changes here.