Blizzard has announced major changes for its 2017 Hearthstone Championship Tour. This series of competitions is the esports component for the digital card game leader. Notably, the prize pool will double next year from $1 million to $2 million.
The new format will combine the old regional Season Championships into global Season Championships. Regional Season Playoffs will take place at each of the four regions participating in the tour: Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and China.
Blizzard is taking care to more closely match events with cycles of content in Hearthstone. The next championship event won’t take place until the end of the next Standard year in 2018, meaning it may not coincide with the next Blizzcon. The 2016 Championship Tour will end at the this year’s event starting today.
However, this could address concerns from fans and players that competitors don’t have enough time to adjust to the game’s evolving meta. Blizzard is also changing the distribution of Championship Tour points earned from tournaments and Ranked play, aiming for a more even distribution that will include more players.
Hearthstone is also getting a couple new esports programs next year. Hearthstone Global Games will feature teams of players from different countries fighting weekly in a global league. Meanwhile, Hearthstone Inn-vitationals will feature popular Hearthstone personalities competing in different, more light-hearted formats.
“We introduced the 2016 Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) last year to help create a system that would bring together the most dedicated Hearthstone players in the world and showcase their ability to compete at the highest levels throughout the year,” Blizzard noted in a press release sent to GamesBeat. “Standard also debuted with the inaugural Year of the Kraken which will wrap up when the first new Expansion of 2017 is released, ringing in the next Standard year. Through this journey, we’ve learned quite a bit, and we’ve heard your valuable feedback as well.”
That next expansion could be announced on November 4 during BlizzCon.