Welcome to This Weekend in Esports, a brief overview of what to watch in the world of competitive gaming for the coming weekend.
For this weekend, one season is about to end, while another handful of seasons are just getting started.
Hearthstone World Championship
When: January 18-21
Where to watch: Twitch.tv/PlayHearthstone
Those who are accustomed to seeing the Hearthstone season end at BlizzCon were surprised to see that the 2017 season would conclude in January. That time is here, as Hearthstone's best gather in the Netherlands to compete for a $250,000 grand prize and the right to call themselves the best player in Hearthstone.
The first couple of days have already proven to be surprising to everyone in attendance, as Europe's best started falling fast. Jon "Orange" Westberg fell short to Chen "tom60229" Wei Lin, while fan favorite Alexandr "Kolento" Malsh was stunned in his opening match against rookie university student SamuelTsao out of Taiwan.
Shacknews is catching the action live in Amsterdam and will be reporting on the tournament over the coming days, so be sure to check out our coverage as it goes up.
LCS Spring Split - Opening Weekend
Game: League of Legends
When: January 20-21
Where to watch: Twitch.tv/lolesports
League of Legends is ready to kick off its regular season, starting with the Spring Split. But things are going to look a little bit different this year, as opposed to years prior. For one thing, there are some new teams in the mix.
The newest team on the block is 100 Thieves. Matthew "Nadeshot" Haag and company have already made a big splash, picking up some major names for their League roster. Former Counter Logic Gaming mainstay Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black was one of the most high profile pickups and he'll join a strong roster that includes Kim "Ssumday" Chan-Ho, William "Meteos" Hartman, and Cody Sun. They'll kick off the Split against OpTic Gaming, but the more intriguing encounter will be the Sunday match against Aphromoo's former CLG squad, who are sporting a new look themselves with replacement support and ex-Team SoloMid Vincent "Biofrost" Wang and new Jungler Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin, formerly of Immortals.
Speaking of teams with new looks, Team SoloMid's quest to return to Worlds is going to be a lot more interesting, because Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell and Soren "Bjergsen" Bjerg are the only returning faces. They begin their quest without Yilian "Doublelift" Peng (Team Liquid), Biofrost (CLG), and Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen (Cloud9) first thing Saturday, facing off against Doublelift and Team Liquid.
The LCS offseason has been a giant game of musical chairs, but now that all the smoke has cleared, it's finally time to play. The new-look NA LCS kicks off on Saturday!
Game: Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
When: January 19-21
Where to watch: Full schedule
Genesis is considered one of the biggest events of the year for both of the main Super Smash Bros. games. Genesis 4 was an absolute clinic of suspense for both games, from the drama surrounding the 0.9 setting in Smash 4, the continuing rise of Leonardo "MkLeo" Perez, to the epic Grand Finals of Melee between Adam "Armada" Lindgren and Joseph "Mang0" Marquez. There is no reason to believe that this year's event will be any less exciting, especially as the event's production continues to up its game every year.
And while Street Fighter isn't the central event of Genesis, nor is it a part of the Capcom Pro Tour, this particular tournament is noteworthy as one of the first national events for Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. This will offer an interesting preview of not just the upcoming Capcom Pro Tour season, but also give viewers an early idea of which characters to watch, now that the big Season 3 patch has been issued. Will Ryu and Nash make a big comeback? Will the big 2017 mainstays suffer under a sea of nerfs? And how much will the second V-Triggers change the competitive game? A lot of questions are aching for answers and Genesis 5 will be one of the first places to get them.
HGC Opening Weekend
Game: Heroes of the Storm
When: January 19-21
Where to watch: Twitch.tv/BlizzHeroes
While one Blizzard game is concluding its esports season, another game is just starting theirs. It's time for Heroes of the Storm to begin its competitive year. And for those who follow the scene, they'll notice that a couple of things have changed. Above all else, there are a handful of new characters that have debuted since the end of the 2017 HGC season.
The Gold Club World Championship in Beijing was the first and only opportunity that pro players had to get familiar with some of Heroes of the Storm's newer additions. And as one would expect, it's taking some time to get accustomed to Alexstrasza and Junkrat, as both of those newcomers struggle in their first competitive weekend. The most interesting character to watch will be Hanzo. This Overwatch mainstay has the pro scene buzzing, with a handful of pro players thinking they could potentially make a big impact with Hanzo's skill shots.
Another thing to watch out for is the revamped game itself. The Stealth reworks, in particular, will have a big impact on the competitive scene. More details on that can be found in our BlizzCon interview. The pros are ready and the full schedule is up on the Heroes Esports website.
So what will you be watching this weekend? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.