Blizzard had a great end to its 2016 competitive circuit, with the Blizzcon 2016 finals and the big news about the Overwatch League, but it’s fair to say World of Warcraft’s future in esports is not quite as clear.
Blizzard teased fans after a recent Q&A with WoW Game Director Ion Hazzikostas hinting at a big esports announcement which would focus on PvP.
Finally, we reach that day and Blizzard has given life to WoW esports for 2017, increasing the number of team spots, qualifier cups and the overall prize pot to almost $600,000.
It all shows Blizzard are not prepared to let WoW esports die anytime soon.
Teams can sign up for Online Arena Cups – each with a $6,000 prize pool – to compete and receive points. Those who have the most points qualify for their regional LAN event, each of which boast a $100,000 prize pot.
North America and Europe will have five qualifiers each in 2017.
“Blizzard is expanding the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship to give players more opportunities, more events and more prizing.”
Teams no longer need an Arena rating to sign up, either; invitations are completely open meaning more teams can attempt to reach the international stage.
Each region will have a multitude of cups open to them, with teams able to join as many cups in their region as they like.
Regional championship LAN events will feature 12 teams for NA and EU – up from eight last year.
with a point system. And each qualifier will have a $6,000 prize pool.
Also, with the point system in North America and Europe, teams will be granted one free roster swap throughout qualifiers. Each subsequent roster swap will cost teams 50% of their remaining points.
12 teams will qualify for the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship Finals, which has a prize pool of $280,000.
Blizzard said in a statement: “In 2017, Blizzard is expanding the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship to give players more opportunities, more events and more prizing.
“There’s a new point structure for North America and Europe, which will lead to more events at a larger scale, with the largest global prize pool in the history of the tournament.”
Here’s a points and format breakdown:
UK in WoW
The UK has produced some top WoW players over the years, some of the best teams in the world.
2016 winners Splyce have UK player Swapxy on their roster for example.
Maybe the new open format will allow more WoW players from Europe and across the world to make a name for themselves in the popular MMORPG.
You can catch the 2016 final recap below, included is the UK’s very own Swapxy playing a mean Shammy games.
A WoW veteran’s view: Analysis by David Hollingsworth
I have played WoW for the best part of 12 years, I raided in Vanilla and I run a guild to this day.
WoW and esports are two of my biggest passions in life and my desire to see WoW succeed in this way would be a dream come true.
I had my concerns after Warlords of Draenor that WoW might struggle going forward and that its esports scene would suffer.
“The 2017 open format should bring new teams together and we might just see the UK produce some solid players going forward.”
Legion, the game’s latest expansion, has drawn players back and the game has been given new life under the revamped team at Blizzard.
Let’s hope what Blizzard has been doing with Overwatch can prove fruitful and we see WoW getting similar love in future.
It’s certainly not one of the easiest scenes to get into, with a lack of local support up until now. The 2017 open format should bring new teams together and we might just see the UK produce some solid players going forward.