Blizzard is entering a new era of esports! According to the latest announcement, the company signed a new deal with ESL and DreamHack in order to establish “a brand-new competitive circuit for the next three years of StarCraft II esports”. In addition, this new partnership will also include the latest addition to the Blizzard games line-up – Warcraft III: Reforged.
The news states that ESL and DreamHack will establish a new ESL Pro Tour for Starcraft II and Warcraft III: Reforged over the next three years and will make sure that the best players of both games will be able to compete at the highest level in various tournaments across the world. These new ESL Pro Tour tournaments will have a total of 4,6 million dollars in prize money which will be distributed throughout events during a 3-year time period.
Blizzard president J. Allen Brack had this to say about the new partnership:
“We are so proud that StarCraft II and Warcraft III are home to two of the most passionate, storied and devoted communities in esports history. Both ESL and DreamHack have been long-standing partners for our esports, and we want to give our players, talent, content creators and fans the stability inherent in a long-term relationship, keeping these communities thriving for years to come.”
Prior to this new agreement between Blizzard, ESL, and DreamHack, StarCraft II esports was a part of the World Championship Series (WCS) ecosystem which will be retired. This will be replaced by new ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II and DreamHack SC2 Masters tournaments and should build a new esports circuit with at least six international tournaments per year – four with DreamHack and two with ESL. The global finals will shift to the new IEM Katowice World Championship in 2021, so this means that BlizzCon esports might look a bit different next year.
On the other hand, Warcraft III esports died long ago… However, with the upcoming Warcraft III: Reforged release and this new deal, Blizzard might rekindle the interest and create a new massive esports franchise compatible with other ESL Pro Tour disciplines – StarCraft II and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. This also allows Blizzard to leave esports business for ESL and DreamHack and shift their full focus on game development.