Hearthstone players compete at the highest levels at tournaments hosted around the world.
Like other Blizzard games like Starcraft 2, the Hearthstone professional scene is generally centred on the collection of ‘qualification points’ that can potentially earn a player a place at the largest Hearthstone tournament, “Hearthstone World Championships”.
Hearthstone World Championships Series
The Hearthstone World Championships isn’t just a single tournament, but a whole series of tournaments known as “regional qualifiers” that lead to the main event held at “Blizzcon” in Anaheim, California, USA.
There are a total of 8 regional qualifiers that players can attend. Players must attend the tournament within their own region. These regions and sub-regions are as follows:
-North & South America
4. South Asia
-Southeast Asia (includes Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, etc.)
The top 4 players from each of the 4 regions will advance to the world championships.
In order to be eligible for the Regional Qualifiers, players must earns ‘qualification points’ by competing in Blizzard sanctioned fireside gatherings or other events or place in the top 100 in online ranked play.
As of 2015, the amount of points earned based on method is as follow:
Ranked Play Rankings
Point structure regardless of which server you play on
2nd to 10th – 40 points
11th to 20th – 30 points
21st to 50th – 10 points
51st to 100th – 1 point
Fireside Gatherings – Depends on the scale of the event
Hearthstone Cup – 17 points split between 1st and 4th places
$10,000 prize pool tournaments – 115 points split between 1st and 8th places
$25,000 prize pool tournaments – 230 points split between 1st and 8th places
At the Regional Qualifiers, players will be seeded based on the amount of points they’ve earned and placed in a 40 player double elimination tournament in which 8 plays will emerge from each of these and compete in the regional championships.
Another way to be eligible for the Regional Qualifier is to achieve at least 2 ‘points’ before the 31st August during a specific qualifying period (starting from 31st of the previous year). Players that meet this condition will be given the opportunity to compete in a single elimination ‘Last Call’ tournament where 16 players will emerge victorious and be seeded amongst the 40 players in the Regional Qualifiers.
The rules of most regional tournaments as well as the world championships itself require players to submit 3 of his or her decks prior to the start of the tournaments. The official format employed is ‘Conquest’ where each player must win with all 3 decks to advance to the next round.
The Hearthstone World Championships held at Anaheim, California, USA consists of 16 regional finalists from around the world. There are 2 rounds of competition. In the first round, the 16 players are divided into 4 groups of 4 players each. Each group will compete amongst themselves. The top 2 players from each group will advance to the next round. The second round, which consists of 8 players, will compete in a single elimination format. Like in the regional championships, all decks are submitted before the actual event takes place.
Other types of tournaments
Apart from the Hearthstone World Championships, there are few other prestigious tournaments that are worthy of mention. Such tournaments can be online, offline, or a combination of both. Some of these tournaments are open to the public while others are either purely invitational or partially invitational. Currently, most public and online tournaments use the ‘Conquest’ format and can be either double or single elimination.
Local Fireside Gatherings
These tournaments are usually held in a public places such as bars or trading card game retail stores. Depending on the amount of demand, these events can be either periodic (e.g. once per month) or occasional.
Major tournaments are ones with a large prize pool of cash and blizzard points and are held annually and may feature other games apart from Hearthstone. Here are some examples of major tournaments:
Held in Sweden, this offline tournament originally focuses on arcade style 1v1 fighting games prior to the introduction of Hearthstone to the competitive scene.
ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series
Works in a somewhat similar fashion as the Hearthstone World Champion Series except that the qualifying rounds are all done online. The finals are held in Burbank, California, USA.
Invitational tournaments are ones where players have to be invited in order to participate. Well-known individuals or team brands often host them. Some of these tournaments feature formats/rules that are different from the ones applied to mainstream tournaments:
A tournament organized by an individual named Dennis “TaKe” Gehlen at his studio in Krefeld, Germany. This best-of-5 tournament format allows player to ban a class from their opponent’s available arsenal of classes.
This tournament was inspired by well-known Hearthstone streamer and youtuber, Octavian “Kripparrian” Morosan who thought of the idea of testing the deck building ability of players, which, he believes is something that official tournament formats lacked the capacity of doing. Each instalment of Challengestone features a different set of rules that revolve around enforcing players to put certain cards in a total of 3 decks and have them compete with such decks in conquest format.
A tournament organized by popular streamer, youtuber, and founder of team Archon, Jason “Amaz” Chan. Invited participants are usually high profile players. However, one may be qualified to attend if they achieve at least rank 100 in ranked play. Matches are played in a best of 5. The unique characteristic with this tournament is that players have the ability to ‘coup’ or ban an opponent’s class (once per match) after seeing the match-up.
Notable teams / divisions
As players become recognized for his or her performance in tournaments, they may be invited to join a professional team or division under a sponsorship agreement. Being part of a professional team or sponsorship provides great benefit to your reputation as a player. It also provides opportunity for you to be invited to invitation-only events/tournaments. Below are some of the notable teams /division as well as popular professional players/individuals associated with them.
Reynad – Founder, Pro Player, Streamer, Youtuber
Frodan – Manager, Caster, Streamer
Amaz – Founder, Pro Player, Streamer, Youtuber
Firebat – 2014 Hearthstone World Champion, Pro Player, Streamer
Savjz – Pro Player, Streamer, Caster
Dog – Pro Player
StrifeCro – Pro Player, Streamer
Kolento – Pro Player, Streamer
Trump – Pro Player, Streamer, Youtuber
Kripparian – Former Pro Player, Streamer, Youtuber, Caster
Lifecoach – Pro Player, Streamer
Thijs – Pro Player