The 2023 Hearthstone esports program has players up in arms

Hearthstone esports is celebrating its tenth anniversary, but sustainability changes to the format have players of all kinds worrying about its future

Hearthstone esports: A Battlegrounds emote of an angry orc with steam coming out of its ears pasted onto a blurred background image of the Hearthstone trophy and the two tournament logos.

The Hearthstone team has announced the return of Hearthstone esports for 2023 to celebrate ten years of competitive play, but many pro players are unhappy with the changes. Compared with previous years, the 2023 season is significantly smaller and has an extremely reduced prize pool provision.

The plan for the 2023 Hearthstone esports season is laid out in an official blog post on the Hearthstone website, and it breaks down exactly how players in both standard and Battlegrounds can earn points and qualify for tournaments. There are seven tournaments in total this year: three Masters Tour Seasonal Championships, three Battlegrounds Lobby Legends tournaments, and the 2023 World Championships.

The blog post says that the season has been scaled down for “sustainability” as Hearthstone esports enters its tenth year, but pro players aren’t happy with the changes. Not only are there fewer opportunities for pros to compete, but the only events with prize pools are the Lobby Legends tournaments, with a pool of $50 thousand, and the World Championships, which offers a prize pool of $500 thousand between eight players.

Content creators, pro players, and casters have taken to the internet to express their concern, as the lack of prize pool support for the Masters Tour events makes pursuing a career in professional esports extremely difficult. Content creator Zeddy said in his analysis of the competitive Hearthstone announcement that, “It’s like [the Hearthstone team] are actively trying to kill it.”

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Additionally, qualification for these tournaments is based on players’ Top 100 placement at the end of each season, rather than through qualifier tournaments. Points are awarded based on tiers of placement, with the top player that season receiving eight points, players two to five receiving seven points, and so on. Ex-caster Brian Kibler warns that grinding ladder placement will “promote a terrible relationship with the game.”

Hearthstone esports: A graphic fromm Blizzard showing the points breakdown for Top 100 placement in standard.

Some positives to come from this announcement are that tournament broadcasts have returned to Twitch after several years of being Youtube only, and Twitch drops will be available throughout the year.

There you have it, everything you need to know about the Hearthstone esports 2023 announcement. If you fancy trying out a different mobile game, check out our Genshin Impact tier list.