Hearthstone is getting ready to wrap up its 2018 Standard year, as well as its 2018 esports year. With a new year around the corner, Blizzard is now looking ahead to how it's going to tweak it's compettiive gaming format going forward. On Thursday, Esports Team Lead Che Chou and Esports Franchise Lead Sam Braithwaite addressed the matter in a new video.
The biggest eye-opener is that the Conquest format is set to be retired next season. This has been the format utilized through the entire life cycle of Hearthstone esports. For the unfamiliar, it's the format in which players bring in four Standard decks (one of which is banned by the opponent prior to play) and must win three games with three decks. Once a deck wins, it is no longer eligible for play in that series.
There is no word just yet on what will replace Conquest. Blizzard will offer more details on this in the near future.
Another item that will catch a lot of attention is that Hearthstone will deal out over $4 million in prize money in 2019. It will be spread out across a competitive year that will feature a three-tiered competitive system of qualifiers, live global tournaments, and an exclusive top tier.
- Qualifiers: The qualifiers will be held primarily online, with a third-party platform partner primarily handling these duties. Anyone from around the world will be allowed to compete in these qualifiers.
- Live Global Tournaments: Blizzard will hold three invite-only tournaments, each featuring a $250,000 prize pool. Among the invited will be seasoned pros, as well as first-timers who have caught Blizzard's eye with their standout performance.
- Premier Competition: This is an online round-robin competition, divided into regional divisions. Only the best of the best will compete here. This Premier is set to take place throughout the year, with more details coming soon.
The Masters system will return after a successful 2018 debut. The system will remain in place in 2019, alongside a new fourth tier that will reward an invite to one live global tournament. Furthermore, 2018 competitors will have an extension through March 31 to earn any last-second points for early 2019 benefits.
More details on all of this can be found on the Hearthstone website. Next for Hearthstone esports is the Hearthstone World Championship in March, which will see one player emerge as champion. It will be contested under Rastakhan's Rumble, which is set to release on Tuesday, December 4.