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Blizzard Details Its New ‘Hearthstone Masters’ Esports Program

Blizzard Entertainment wants to make “Hearthstoneesports more sustainable, entertaining, and accessible to fans. So, it’s created a new program called Hearthstone Masters that debuts in March.

The first two parts of the new program are the Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers and the Hearthstone Masters Tour. The qualifiers are open to all eligible players who want to test their skills. Blizzard will run approximately 30 tournaments each week during a Masters Tour qualifying season, it said. Hosted through Battlefy, they will allow players to compete on their own schedule.

People who win Masters qualifiers will earn “Hearthstone” card packs and an invite to a corresponding Masters Tour event. Registration will go live two weeks before each Masters Qualifier is scheduled to begin. The first tournament is on Mar. 5.

Anyone interested in participating can check out the full schedule here.

Each month during a Masters Qualifiers season, Blizzard said it will publish the top finishers in the Standard Ranked Play Ladder. People who end the month in the Top 200 will get invites to participate in a Ranked Ladder Qualifier. These operate under the same rules as a Masters Qualifier, with the top four finishers earning a spot at the next Hearthstone Masters Tour event.

Speaking of the Hearthstone Masters Tour, the first stop will be at the LINQ Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Jun. 14-16. There will be a $250,000 prize pool. Plus, Blizzard said it wants to give fans the chance to support the Hearthstone Masters directly while grabbing some in-game items, so it’s introducing a limited-time only esports bundle in the shop. A portion of the sales will go to the base prize pools for each of the three 2019 Hearthstone Masters Tour events. Blizzard will have more details about the bundle soon.

After Las Vegas, the Masters Tour will head to Asia and Europe, with even more destinations planned for 2020. Locations and dates will be announced at least two weeks prior to the beginning of their associated Masters Qualifiers season, Blizzard said.

Players can qualify for the Masters Tour in multiple ways, including winning an online Masters Qualifier, placing in the top four of a Ranked Ladder Qualifier, getting an invite through a licensed third-party tournament, finishing as a top performer at a previous Masters Tour event, qualifying through the China Gold Series, or finishing out the Year of the Raven with at least 120 Hearthstone Competitive Points.

All Masters Qualifier and Ranked Ladder Qualifier matches will be best-of-three. All matches at Masters Tour events will be best-of-three as well, with the exception of a best-of-five finals.

There is a third part of the program, the Hearthstone Grandmasters, but Blizzard said it’s not quite ready to announce full details about it yet.

Additionally, Blizzard is getting rid of its old Conquest format after the 2019 Hearthstone World Championship. Starting on Apr. 25, the developer is replacing Conquest with something new called Specialist. Under the new format, players can submit three decks from the same class, designating one as the primary deck. At the beginning of game two and onward, players can decide to keep playing their primary deck or switch to one of the others. Deck decisions for games two and three are performed at the start of each match simultaneously and are kept secret from the opposing player.

“We are excited to see how the Specialist format performs when played at the pro level and we’re eager to implement community feedback to improve it as needed throughout 2019,” Blizzard said.

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