Blizzard's Groundbreaking Partnerships & WCS 2013 Announcement
For weeks the Starcraft community has been buzzing with anticipation of "Blizzard's big announcement." We were all wondering what new ground would be broken in the world of competitive Starcraft 2.
On April 3rd, 2013, many of Starcraft's most popular figureheads came together for a press conference in South Korea. This announcement was a masterfully kept secret. Many insiders knew, but none leaked. There was no live-stream of of the event. Twitter was exploding with live reporting from the press conference. Those in the know were waiting for their embargo to end so they can spill the beans.
So what was the major announcement?
Blizzard announced that they would be bringing back their World Championship Series for Starcraft 2 in 2013. It would be bigger and better than ever as they partnered with Twitch, KeSPA, OnGameNet, GomTV, ESL, and MLG. These organizations would host tournaments in three regions: America, Europe, and Korea. Over 1.6 million will be given out in prize money in 2013; and all content will be broadcast from a central stream on Twitch.tv. This year will feature three seasons. Each season will have its own final, featuring the top five players from each region at a live event. Points will be earned during all three season and season finals that will determine which 16 players are the top ranked, earning a spot in the Global Finals at Blizzcon. Here is the official overview of the 2013 season.
Rod "Slasher" Breslau had an interview with Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime on the announcement. Mike responded to the question "What is the goal in creating this new system for the World Championship Series?" by stating:
"I think we just look at the whole ecosystem and recognize that it could be a whole lot easier to understand. There are scheduling conflicts that make players have to make difficult decisions where sometimes you don't get people playing in the tournaments they think they should be playing in. It's very hard to follow, to really know what the relative importance of winning various things are. I think it really falls to us, to Blizzard, we're really the only company in position to work with everybody, to help create a single storyline in the ecosystem. We think the time is right to level-up StarCraft II as an eSport."
You can read the full interview here.
Along with the major news we have some smaller, more in depth, points about this new league.
- Players will be able to choose what region they will play for.
- Non-WCS events cannot run events on the same weekend as WCS events
- Players will be able to go any event outside of WCS in any region.
- "Blizzard will support other tournaments with points that add together for the whole point system.
- All games of the round of 16 will be played in a studio.
- No plan for SEA or China regions.
- 4 Seasons confirmed for 2014 with a much higher prize pool.
Thanks to Khaldor we have a video of Mike Morhaim giving the official address.
All of this news leaves a rather large wake of new questions. So many things are still unanswered to the public.
- How will non-locked regions effect the entirety of this tournament?
- How will WCS points be assigned to the players?
- What happens to pros like Moonglade or Sen from Australia and Taiwan respectively who do not live in the three regions?
- How are leagues like NASL and Dreamhack involved? At the moment it seems as if they both have received the very short end of the stick.
- Will Blizzard open up a studio in America to broadcast games from, or use MLG's existing infrastructure?
- Do westerners have any need to train in Korea anymore?
- Will the league be able to "evolve" between season to iron out kinks, or will the format be set in stone from day one?
Good thing for us Blizzard is planning on doing an AMA to answer many of these questions.
All in all this is a huge push in the right direction. Starcraft and eSports need developer support from the likes of Blizzard to keep this trend of growth. Although there are many skeptics for this new WCS plan; I believe they are only skeptical as they are just worried. We love Starcraft and want to see it succeed. With WCS, it will.
Thank you to @Khaldor for the pictures and video. Sources: Slasher for his writeup of the announcement, along with his interview of Mike Morhaime. Also Blizzard's official announcement on battle.net. You can follow me on twitter @Leafeator.