Fans of StarCraft II and Warcraft III are in for a treat as a new agreement between DreamHack and ESL, part of the MTG entertainment group, along with software giants Blizzard Entertainment has been signed.
The strategic partnership will last for a minimum of three years and will facilitate the creation of two new ESL Pro Tour events for both StarCraft II and Warcraft III: Reforged esports communities.
Blizzard have agreed to provide a prize pool of over US$1.8 million over the duration of the agreement with over US$200,000 of that provided for the inaugural season alone.
StarCraft World Championship Series Supplanted
The new format of the tour will mean that the current StarCraft II World Championship Series will be replaced by the new ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II, which will feature esports tournaments across at least four different continents.
In addition, the crucial global finals of the tour will move from being contested at BlizzCon to being contested at the Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, an event which already has an extensive following across a wide range of different esports disciplines.
Part of the deal also sees ESL and DreamHack build and design a new competitive platform for the Blizzard Entertainment game Warcraft III: Reforged and this will also be prefixed with the ESL Pro Tour label.
Three Games Go Global for ESL
Following the successful inaugural CS:GO Pro Tour which started in September 2019, StarCraft II and Warcraft III: Reforged will be the next two games to become part of the global ESL circuit of games.
Both these real-time strategy (RTS) games have a long history within the esports community and already have a healthy bedrock of fans and players. It is envisaged that this new ESL Tour set up will give fans and prospective professionals a route to playing the game at the highest levels that was not there previously.
Speaking about the creation of the new tour, Sebastian Weishaar the CPO at ESL stated:
“We feel deeply honoured to establish a new home for RTS esports fans and [to] be responsible for two of the most prestigious esports titles of all time.”
“Tying both StarCraft II and Warcraft III into the ESL Pro Tour narrative is out contribution to these passionate communities and will provide both titles with a promising platform to continue writing esports history.”
Pete Vlastica, the CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports was effusive in his praise for the deal stating:
“The deal is a great step forward for StarCraft II esports and creates an exciting new esports scene around Warcraft III: Reforged.”
“We’re deeply committed to bringing the best in competitive entertainment to fans and players around the world, and we’re thrilled to expand out collaboration with ESL and DreamHack in support of that effort.”
Structure of the Tours
Teams will be able to qualify for the StarCraft II ESL Pro Tour using the same system that has been widely used in the World Championship Series. Teams that quality for the tour will play in seven tournaments in total, which will include both IEM events in Katowice in 2020 and 2021.
Warcraft III:Reforged teams will play in one ESL tournament and three DreamHack events across the season, with a final Championship tournament scheduled for later on 2020. Weekly open events will be held for community players to participate in too.
Image courtesy of DreamHack