Blizzard unveils revamped $1.6 million 2013 Starcraft II tournament season

Developer reveals overhaul to World Championship Series; cofounder Mike Morhaime discusses changes.

Today at a press conference in South Korea, Blizzard Entertainment announced a revamp to its Starcraft II World Championship Series, which debuted last year, working with partners to create three equal and parallel leagues in North America, Europe, and South Korea. More than $1.6 million in prize money will be up for grabs for players in 2013, and fans at home can expect to watch for free in 720p.

Blizzard announced that it will use both GomTV and OnGameNet in South Korea, Major League Gaming in North America, and Turtle Entertainment's Electronic Sports League in Europe. Each will operate their region's WCS league for the year. There will be three separate seasons in 2013, each with regional finals and a season finals event. A unified global player ranking system will be established with points given to players at each event, culminating with the top 16 players in points vying for a spot to be called World Champion at the BlizzCon Global Finals. Next year there will be four seasons.

"I think we just look at the whole ecosystem and recognize that it could be a whole lot easier to understand," Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime told GameSpot. "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."

This will mark the first time that OnGameNet and GomTV will be working together. GomTV will run the first WCS league in Korea, beginning with the upcoming GSL Code S season starting in less than two days. OGN will broadcast the event on TV in with their own casters. Both OGN and GSL will broadcast each other's leagues with their own casters and streams. After this season of Code S, OGN will begin their next OnGameNet StarLeague which has been on hold for a while, and act as the main operator of WCS Korea Season 2. Another season of GSL Code S will not take place until OSL is over, and act as the third and final WCS Korea season before the Global Finals.

The Korean eSports Association has been involved every step of the way, Blizzard said.

"One of the really awesome things about all of this is we have all the entities in Korea working together now," Morhaime said. "The Korean leagues will be available to watch both through OGN and GomTV. ProLeague will still be going on and the GSTL will still be going on. We'll have Starcraft II on television five nights a week."

"Blizzard really worked hard for all partners, so we can truly work together in not only Korea but also the world."

"Blizzard really worked hard for all partners, so we can truly work together in not only Korea but also the world," GomTV Starcraft II manager Chae Jung Won told GameSpot. "For GomTV's perspective, we were working hard to increase our media platform from 2012."

Players must commit to one WCS league at the beginning of the year and cannot change region after, but can compete in any non-WCS events in any region. Each regional league season will run for 8 to 10 weeks, with all games played on weekdays in a consistent schedule. This will allow players to travel internationally to non-WCS events on weekends. Non-WCS events cannot run events on the same weekend as WCS events. Non-WCS events will be given an as-of-yet-undetermined number of points.

All matches in Korea will be played in the studio through GomTV's StarLeague or OnGameNet's StarLeague, while North America and Europe will play Online until the top 16 players. Those top 16 players will compete in a studio environment to determine the best five players in each region. Five players from each region will then compete in the Season 1 finals event, with one additional player to come from the host continent for 16 players total. They will compete for an undetermined number of points. Each continent will get one finals event this year in the size of an event similar to one at GSL, MLG, or ESL.

"We're hoping that by giving the North American and European players their own league, it will make it so they don't have to travel as much and can focus more on practice," Morhaime said. "We think that the level of play will also increase within the regions this way."

The tournament structure has been modeled off of GSL's Code S, Code A, and Code B system and is called Premier, Challenger, and Qualifier. This structure will run for all partners, including MLG and ESL. The Challenger events will run slightly differently in North America and Europe due to logistics in travel. Players will be able to move up and down within their own region as players do in GSL. Only the OSL will have differences, where there will be an additional Round of 32 added on played in a best-of-one format.

Players in North America and Europe will be invited to kick off Season 1 based upon their performances in 2012 across all leagues. Open qualifiers will also be held to determine the final player list. Additionally, the top 200 Grand Masters players on the Starcraft II Ladder will be invited to join the initial qualifiers.

Blizzard says that it has partnered with TwitchTV to broadcast the entire year for free in 720p. There will also be a central hub created for fans to watch the games, follow the storylines, and get all information related to the World Championship Series.

"For all of us in the West, it will be available via TwitchTV," Morhaime said. "We can watch this stuff now. There will be a regular schedule to follow along."

With everything announced, Blizzard feels this will be the best year yet for competitive Starcraft II. With several developers giving support to the competitive side of their game as of late, Morhaime is thrilled to be able to do as much with their own franchise.

"We think the time is right to level up Starcraft II as an eSport."

For more, check out GameSpot's extended interview with Morhaime.

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Discussion

61 comments
MatrixGamer78
MatrixGamer78

WoW should be a part of e-sport rather than SC2.

ThAdEa82
ThAdEa82

This just made a lot of Koreans happy

csward
csward

Pro gaming is slowly getting bigger and bigger.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

I'd actually watch some of this, I've never gave eSports much of a shot but I'm sure it's cool.

Sardinar
Sardinar

Please do not bash Blizzard because of Diablo 3 or WoW in this article. Hell, even the HotS campaign was done poorly and was a blatant attempt to achieve a broader fanbase - but Starcraft 2 multiplayer is something that Blizzard succeeded at even by old-school standards, and I'd like for people to acknowledge that positively even if it is hard to ignore all of Blizzard's missteps.

AzatiS
AzatiS

Not bad , it was about time for the company that constantly for the last 3-4 years making 120- 140 million dollars per month from WoW subs ALONE!! ... Thats insane number...

1.6M is a low number considering that Blizzard making yearly ( 1.3 billion more or less per year from WoW subs alone ) but definitly is a step forward. Good job.

game_more
game_more

A great step forward! As a money driven company they sure do produce "epic games". #1 RTS Game, #1 MMO (for years), #1 RPG (1 Million players a day)

atopp399
atopp399

Diablo 3 was designed around the auction house....real money.  Now this...  Blizzard is going way down hill.  Glad I stopped buying their crap.

X-Blackrose
X-Blackrose

I'd rather play the original StarCraft.

Granted, eSports isn't for everybody - it just, seemed like, to me, StarCraft II focused heavily on the competitive multiplayer rather than the campaign.

This message is brought to you by someone who prefers single-player over multi-player games.

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

blizzivizard has already failed this one.

here's a thought deposit on how they failed that particular tournament audience, reddit article contains traces of swearing:

http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/11m21k/starcraft_2_will_be_dead_before_legacy_of_the/

aside from that i know people played and enjoyed the first one because of its story, which is removed from sc2 (has no story) and replaced by witty lines and convenient hero actions that work as cheap patches and fill plot holes.

interesting article here: https://seanmalstrom.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/the-problem-with-starcraft-2s-story/

i'm not trying to flame and i'm expecting violent verbal reactions but i just wanted to share my concern. sorry that it comes in the form of links but i'd fail to express things as well.

Antuan Delageto
Antuan Delageto

omg. Blizzard give me that money! I would like to see wining a non-korean terran(lucifron) Maybe a non-korean zerg (stephano) or a non korean protoss (grubby).

MAD_AI
MAD_AI

Once, I played against a South Korean player and lasted more than 10 seconds!!!

Carlos Alvarez Ochoa
Carlos Alvarez Ochoa

How about let's finish StarCraft:Ghost one of the most ambitious game's ever.

Michael Andrews
Michael Andrews

WTF! First NFL Madden has a million dollar tournament, now Call of Duty, and StarCraft. Where's Tekken at? Though I did hear about Vegas hosting a Namco EVO $20,000 tournament except, that's nothing like a million. :(

Scotty Le
Scotty Le

OpticGaming at COD Tournament this weekend, lost my feeling for Competitive RPG long long ago.

shock_88
shock_88

It's about time they took charge it made no sense to see Blizzard sitting on their hands while Riot continued their LCS and really make their game grow. Now Starcraft can grow a lot faster.

Joedgabe
Joedgabe

if only i was good enough...... too bad i suck! love the game though (:

plasmaDANNY
plasmaDANNY

I wish this was more structured like ATP (TENNIS) with Showmatch events in between events.  

TimeFrame
TimeFrame

@Suikogaiden That nonsense is why SC2 is actually a successful game and has a die hard community who keeps it going for years. Goes to show how much you know about StarCraft. xD

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

@atopp399  @Poison-tooth 

blizzictizasion are monetising every franchise they own, sometimes cheaply.

and no, it's not about d3 only, it's the direction and mentality they have with their games.

PSdual_wielder
PSdual_wielder

@X-Blackrose  

Indeed its a shame the story in SC2 so far is  terrible.  But on the flip side, it makes a lot of sense Blizzard chose to focus a lot more on the multiplayer instead of single player.

I think people just hate esports by default because they don't understand it.  When it gets to a really epic game between two incredibly skilled players, nothing beats the excitement of watching it live.

Sardinar
Sardinar

@X-Blackrose Oh, they 'focused' on single-player. Except the single-player wasn't trying to please Starcraft I fans but instead it was trying to achieve a 'broader appeal' with it's cliche and poorly written story. Just like Diablo 3.

Starcraft II multiplayer is the only thing that Blizzard keeps primed for it's original fans, the rest of Blizzard's games have been trashed for a larger fanbase.

Sardinar
Sardinar

@Mega_Loser This is very off-topic - Starcraft 2's multiplayer and singleplayer are two VERY different aspects. What you're saying is very true regarding singleplayer, but Blizzard actually succeeded with the multiplayer - so please try to avoid bashing it. 

mann0311
mann0311

@Mega_Loser and honestly no one cares about the single player sure there are soe gripes but everyone is vastly concerned about the multiplayer and the exports aspect.

mann0311
mann0311

@Mega_Loser the particular reddit post you listed is quite old and was someone venting about a particular feeling that the comunity had as a whole felt blizzard wasn't doing enough and the scene felt stagnant. But that was many months ago there have been a few hugely suCcessful events since then and this announcement is literally everything to prove your thread wrong. @Mega_Loser @Mega_Loser

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

@Mega_Loser  

i realise that mentioning the story is off topic but i thought it's worth it and reflects the mentality in which sc2 was made.

Sardinar
Sardinar

@shock_88 Riot is making their game grow unnaturally, by sponsoring teams who play their game - instead of having other interested companies sponsor them.

Blizzard allows Starcraft 2 teams to grow it's potential in the real world, instead of augmenting it with their own finances. Hosting a tournament like this would get a lot of sponsors' attention, without having Blizzard sponsor SC2 teams directly. 

gamermajor
gamermajor

@shock_88 I was thinking about that too. Blizzard is like "Oh shit wtf is this Riot shit. We gotta do better!"

FragRaptor
FragRaptor

@plasmaDANNY you really don't watch much starcraft do you? There is a bunch of showmatches and other events that you can enjoy aside from the "Central league"

metallica_one
metallica_one

@Suikogaiden @csward Lol last MLG event 130.000 people where watching Sc2 and around 100.000 people where watchign LoL, Yes those 8 people have up around thousands of streams up at the same time

Sardinar
Sardinar

@Mega_Loser @atopp399 @Poison-tooth Starcraft II multiplayer is the only game they're not keeping for a 'broader fanbase' like they do with WoW or Diablo 3. I would not mind you crying over other things, hell, even Starcraft II Campaign was a blatant attempt at gathering more fans - but the Multiplayer has been done VERY well by Blizzard even by old-school standards.

Poison-tooth
Poison-tooth

  @Mega_Loser Surprise! Blizzard is a money driven company. Sorry but Blizzard is not «cheaply monetizing» SC2 like they do for WoW and D3. I will say it again... as a SC2 player i dont care about D3 and WoW woes.

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

@Sardinar

no please, don't use that word, i never "bashed" at anything in here today. i just shared a few points of skepticism, never played the multi part and simply do not know it. except for the single player.

*EDIT: when i said "actilizzard failed this one", i took context straight from that article i link to.

_el_Greco_
_el_Greco_

@mann0311 Exactly...  The profitability of Starcraft 2 is dependant entirely on the multiplayer.  The vast majority of fans don't care much about the story.  However, it's pretty sad and disappointing to see Blizzard handle the SC2 story so poorly in comparison to SC1.  I mean, as an old fan I expected quality out of the story as well, but was bummed to see them do such a half-assed job...

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

@mann0311  

you can't say that, "no one case", did you ask everyone?

in any case, i understand the reddit article was written months ago but you can't level every point it makes to the ground just because there is a tournament planned. anyway, thanks for your reply.

WarL0rdzz
WarL0rdzz

@Sardinar Riot is s**t compared to Blizzard. And if Blizzard wants something done, they do it.

TimeFrame
TimeFrame

@metallica_one @Suikogaiden @csward I thought I heard that a LoL stream once hit over 1 million viewers? But you last big Sc2 tournament it had 130k people watching at the same time. Not too shabby. xD

KrazyDago101
KrazyDago101

@plasmaDANNY 

Are you socially deprived? Learn how to act please, so you may not be a plague on humanity. I'm sure you are a child, and you need to realize why you have no future. You are a mongaloid.