Two weeks ago, Blizzard has announced their plans for 2023 Hearthstone esports and let’s just say that no one was happy about them. The whole competitive circuit is getting some heavy cuts with less events, no qualifier tournaments, no Chinese players invited (because they can no longer officially play Hearthstone due to their servers closing down) and – maybe even most importantly – much lower prize pools.
The last part was the biggest absurd because Blizzard decided to cut the Seasonal Championship prizes down to… zero. You read it right – even if you were one of the best ladder players in a given quarter and managed to qualify to a major event, the only potential reward was World Championship qualification. Of course, World Championship had guaranteed monetary prizes, but not only players would have to wait until the end of the year to “cash them out”, it also meant that those who didn’t qualify through Seasonal Championship got literally nothing for their effort.
However, Blizzard just announced a slight change in the format. The good news is that Seasonal Championship will now have rewards – not huge, but still better than nothing. The bad news is that nothing is added to the overall pool, but rather redistributed. An extra $50k per Seasonal Championship ($150k in total) will be taken from the $500k World Championship’s reward pool. That’s still a much better system, and players who end up qualifying to World Championship won’t even lose much (because they will also get the prizes from a top finish at Seasonals).
Of course, this is more of a bandaid and it doesn’t magically fix this year’s esports, but at least it gives some hope. Many pro players have already said that they might now try to qualify since it won’t be a complete waste of time if they don’t get all the way to the World Championship.
Here’s how the new rewards structure will look like: