Hearthstone might not be the most popular esports game, but it still has a dedicated community and lots of high-skilled competitors. Blizzard just shared their plans for the rest of 2022, and honestly, it looks like the last 3 months will be quite packed.
On the Standard side, we still have one Masters Tour, Masters Fall Championship and then – finally – World Championship in December. Battlegrounds is even busier, but with a bit smaller events – there are still four Lobby Legends planned for the upcoming months. In other words, we will have a new HS esports event every few weeks until the end of the year.
But what about next year? Given that we haven’t heard anything about Hearthstone’s 2023 esports, many pro players started getting a little bit worried about the future.
It’s worth noting that back in 2020, Blizzard signed a deal with Google that “forced” all of the major, official Blizzard tournaments away from Twitch and into YouTube (including Hearthstone). Many people cite that as the beginning of Hearthstone esports’ downfall, as the tournaments lost close to 80% of the viewership over the following year. However, that deal is expiring soon – at the beginning of 2023. It means that, unless Blizzard extends it, Team 5 will be free to stream Hearthstone tournaments back on Twitch. Lobby Legends are already streaming on Twitch, but I think that’s because Battlegrounds wasn’t part of that Google deal (probably because it just released in Beta and there were no tournament plans for it yet).
However, given that Hearthstone esports isn’t exactly pulling massive audiences, some were afraid of Blizzard simply shutting the whole thing down. Luckily, Hearthstone’s esports product manager Abar has confirmed that it isn’t the case and they will continue into 2023 – and yes, that includes next year’s World Championship. While we know that Grandmasters will be gone (maybe for good), if there’s a World Championship, it most likely means that Masters Tours are safe too, unless they plan to completely change their approach.
To be clear, I don’t get to decide when this kind of information is shared, even if I share it from my personal account. That being said, I have been approved to say that HSE will exist next year, and yes, that will include a world championship.
— Abar (@Abar_HS) September 13, 2022
What do you think about it? Do you watch Hearthstone esports? Do you think that returning to Twitch would make a meaningful difference to viewership? If you don’t watch it on YouTube, would you start if it was streaming on Twitch too? I think that going back to Twitch would be the best way to at least attempt “saving” Hearthstone esports, but I’m pretty sure that it will never get back the viewership it had before moving to YouTube.
Update: It looks like ESL deal for running HS esports was separate from the Google deal that forced HS esports into YouTube. I edited the post to clarify that. Both of them are ending very soon, though, so the return to Twitch might be a thing.