Hearthstone had a good eSports run this year, culminating in the World Championship series held at the annual BlizzCon. The tournament saw fierce competition, especially as the prize pool was at a generous $250,000.
Blizzard, however, is showing how serious it is in promoting eSports by increasing that prize pool by four times to a cool $1 million for next year's Hearthstone World Championship.
The massive prize pool is just a portion of Blizzard's plans for the popular digital card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft in the realm of eSports. Blizzard will also be splitting the eSports calendar for Hearthstone into four seasons to increase the game's competitive profile and keep its fans engaged.
The Winter Season will be running from December to February, followed by the Spring Season from March to May. The Summer Season will then launch in June and end in July, with the World Championship then running from August to November. The finals will be held again at BlizzCon.
At the end of each of the Winter, Spring and Summer seasons, a championship tournament will be held in the three territories of Hearthstone, namely the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The winners of the tournaments will be advancing automatically to the first round of the World Championship.
A Last Call Invitational tournament will then be held in October, with the winners of the tournaments to become the fourth player for their respective regions at the World Championship.
Through this setup, 12 players will be earning their spots in the World Championship. However, four more players will be coming from China, which is being considered as the fourth territory for Hearthstone. Blizzard, however, has not yet revealed how the representatives of China will be determined.
Blizzard added that while players can still be invited to participate in tournaments, they would not be receiving any byes through early rounds. This would have all players participating in the opening round, which would even the playing field.
In addition to the prize pool of $1 million for the World Championship, Blizzard will also be providing a prize pool of $100,000 for each Season Championship, which would bump up Blizzard's total commitments to the Hearthstone eSports prize pool to almost $2 million.