WoW esports has rolled along quietly for a few years now, but it seems – alongside StarCraft II and Hearthstone – Blizzard is giving the scene a necessary injection to boost interest in the competitive scene.
Blizzard has announced that, alongside $590,000 being invested into prize pools for World Of Warcraft’s Arena esports, there will be changes coming to the format in 2017.
Now there will be additional qualifier cups, giving fans more opportunities to watch the competition unfold as well as expected the potential number of teams competing. North America and Europe will both feature five qualifier cups each, with twelve teams from both regions.
Latin America now also has their own qualifier league, while China has had its regional spots increased to two.
All qualifier cups will have a $6,000 prize pool and the requirement that teams must have an Arena rating has been dropped, meaning this is a truly open qualifier series.
But the biggest news is the inclusion of a new points system, the purpose of which is twofold: first, to spread out the competition over the course of 2017, giving players more opportunities to take part. But additionally it is to help foster a grassroots community behind the game: WoW is still the most played MMO out there, after all.
Points earned from the official Online Arena Cups are 160 for first placed, 80 for second, followed by 36, 20 and 12. This is in addition to community run events – which Blizzard will be approving – that can also earn teams points to make it further into the 2017 competition.
These are currently subject to change, but Blizzard claims points earned at community run events are 40 for first place, then 20, 12 and 8 for fourth place.
This will all build towards the World Championship Finals at Blizzcon this year, where four teams from NA and Europe, one from Latin America, two from China and one from the Asia Pacific region will compete to be declared the world champions. Last year Splyce’s World Of Warcraft Arena team took the cup, and $120,000 in cash in the process.
This year the prize pool for the World Championship Finals has also been bolstered to $280,000, from the last few year’s $250,000.
All this is a good move for Blizzard and its WoW Arena esports, building up the grassroots level to get players invested, as well as giving more teams more opportunities to compete – making it all a little broader and more varied for everyone involved.