Blizzard Announces ESL Pro Tour

Blizzard's WCS and ESL Pro Tour Announcement

The WCS Circuit has been the main StarCraft 2 tournament series for the last 8 years, some would say it has deteriorated since its initial inaugural season but the passion of pros and fans has persisted.

After months of StarCraft fans fearing a fate reminiscent of that of Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft Esports Twitter account posted their first announcement regarding the 2020 season of StarCraft 2. We were told not to worry but the past couple of years haven't looked good on Blizzard’s end regarding Esports and the future of StarCraft. The announcement is as follows:

    “We’re excited to announce the future of StarCraft II esports. Our 3-year deal with ESL will help create a longstanding, high-quality program that keeps StarCraft II esports thriving for years to come.”

This was followed by a larger statement going into further detail on the plans for this 3 year deal with ESL and Dreamhack.  All WCS sites will shut down in the near future to make way for the ESL Pro Tour StarCraft 2 and DreamHack SC2 Masters.

Changes

Let’s go over the changes;

  • WCS is “retired” making way for six international tournaments, four withg Dreamhack two with ESL
  • There will be “Weekly competitions” that feed into the ESL events
  •  The Global Finals will now take place at IEM Katowice starting in 2021 rather than at BlizzCon
  • Blizzard is taking on a supportive role with the competitive scene, providing the prize pools for the next three years of Finals at $1.2 million and the ESL/DreamHack circuit combining for $1.9 million
  • Regarding the IEM Katowice 2020: they have increased their commitment to the prize pool from $250,000 to $400,000

Last Thoughts

The announcement in its entirety is available here and overall the community response is positive and embracing this new lease on life given to StarCraft. The overall assumption is that WarCraft 3 (Reforged) will also be making a comeback at these tournaments which is a whole different reason to get excited.

They also state in the announcement  that they are in the works of finalizing the Korean Circuit plan, which is a little surprising as GSL and the Korean Circuit seemed to be doing better than the WCS Circuit but we will have to wait and see.

It is hard in the current climate to believe everything Blizzard is saying because of the recent failures to uphold monetary promises for other Esports, but assuming this is somewhere in the deal with ESL it should hold up and that is promising 

This is an exciting development For StarCraft Esports and we should be expecting news on the Korean circuit shortly so make sure to check back with Esports Vikings often!

Cameron Carr image

Cameron Carr

10 January 2020

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