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Blizzard unveils plans for Hearthstone esports in 2022

Hearthstone 2016 logo. - CC BY-SA

Hearthstone Esports is reexamining how best to sustain competitive Hearthstone and how to support its global community as we move forward into 2022

A recent announcement by Activision Blizzard indicated that next year, players can expect a lot of improvement from Hearthstone esports During their presentation, the team detailed many of the changes that will be implemented in January.

From the expansion of the World Championship to new Seasonal Masters Tour events, the sunsetting of Grandmasters, as well as monthly Battlegrounds events, all for a better gaming experience for players.

Operation Hearthstone Championships

Expanding the number of possibilities for players to compete in the World Championship is a key goal for 2022’s success. The company had received a lot of feedback from the community, as gamers thought that making it to the final Olympic event would be insufficient for the best players.

With this in mind, the company has increased the number of participants to 16, who will fight it out for a spot in the Hall of Champions and a portion of the $500,000 prize pool. The Grandmasters won’t be the only ones to arbitrate invitations.

Four Grandmasters and four Chinese players will proceed to the World Championship during the course of the year, with the remaining eight seats going to the top players on the Masters Tour through Season Championship events.

2022 Masters Tours and Seasonal Championships

Blizzard is raising the stakes for the 2022 Masters Tour. The number of qualifiers for each Masters Tour will be decreased to 60, and they will be spread out over three weekends. Furthermore, the number of ladder invitations is increasing to 150 every Masters Tour. The company feels that this adjustment will better serve competitors’ time commitment to the scene, as ladder match is a more convenient method to engage in Hearthstone Esports for many players.

Each Seasonal Championship will feature an incentive prize pool of $50,000 as well as an invitation to the World Championship for the top four players. The updated Masters Tour Points page will allow players to track their win rate progress.

The first Masters Tour of 2022 is scheduled for February 18–20.

Grandmasters’ final events

Grandmasters will end after two seasons in 2022 and will be phased out in favor of a greater focus on the ecosystem as a whole.

As we look toward the future of competitive Hearthstone, we have concluded that Grandmasters does not align with our goals for the program,” Acti Blizz said. “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 will have all 48 Grandmasters participating in a shortened four-week season in February and March 2022. The victor of each area, like in previous seasons, will progress to the 2022 World Championship. Only the best four players from each area will proceed to Season 2.

Finally, in Grandmasters: Last Call, the top four players from each of the Season 1 regions will compete against the top four by Masters Tour Points from the last three Masters Tours of 2021 and the first three Masters Tours of 2022.

New Battlegrounds

Blizzard is excited to present the new Battlegrounds: Lobby Legends, which stands outside from the competitive built environment. Players will compete for a portion of a $500,000 prize pool split over various one-off 2022 tournaments.

Top Ladder players from the US, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and China will compete in each Lobby Legends tournament. The first day will be devoted to group play, with participants earning points for each match based on their final placing. Each group’s best players will then proceed to a second-day playoff.

In the following months, Blizzard will have more information on event dates and qualification schedules.