Tournaments

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Tournaments in Hearthstone consist of official Blizzard-sanctioned tournaments and also unofficial non-Blizzard-sanctioned tournaments. Hearthstone tournaments set rules for the type of game format, match format, and tournament format used in the tournaments.

The official Hearthstone tournament scene consists of a three-tiered tournament system, collectively called Hearthstone Masters:

The new three-tiered tournament scene replaced the Hearthstone World Championship Tour in 2019 as the official tournament structure after the conclusion of the 2018/2019 Hearthstone World Championship.[1] The reason was to simplify the convolutions of the previous tournament system, the HCT, and to bring about new fresh changes to tournament organization.

Other official tournaments include the Hearthstone Global Games, Hearthstone Collegiate Championship, and registered Fireside Gatherings.

Match formats[edit | edit source]

Match formats are formats which determine how games are played between two players for a given head-to-head match.

Shield-Phase Conquest[edit | edit source]

Shield-Phase Conquest is a match format used in tournaments, featuring the Conquest match format but with a Shield Phase.[2] It was first used in the second season of Hearthstone Grandmasters in 2019.[3] Normally the match format is played in a best-of-3 series, though the semifinals and grand finals of official Hearthstone tournaments use an enduring best-of-5 series.

  • Two players bring four decks, each from a different class.
  • The match starts with a Shield Phase where both players protect a deck from being banned by the other player.
  • Each player then bans one of their opponents' remaining three unprotected decks to remove it from the pool of playable decks.
  • The players proceed to battle with their available three decks in a best-of-3 or best-of-5 series.
  • After the completion of each game, the winning deck is repeatedly removed from the pool of playable decks, and the players continue battling with any of their remaining decks.
  • The winner is the first player to reach 2 wins (in a best-of-3 series) or 3 wins (in a best-of-5 series).

Specialist[edit | edit source]

Specialist is a match format used in tournaments that implements a form of side-boards. Specialist format was first used with the newly implemented Hearthstone Masters tournament system in 2019. The Specialist format began to be discontinued from official tournament play after the conclusion of the second Masters Tour event in 2019, which took place in Seoul, in favor of a new Shield-Phase Conquest match format.[3][4]

  • Players bring three 30-card decks to the tournament.
  • All three decks must be from the same class.
  • The decks are designated as Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary.
    • The Primary is the main deck that players must start with for their first game.
    • The Secondary and Tertiary decks may be chosen in following games.
      • These decks contain 25 cards found in the Primary deck, with the remaining 5 being the player's choice.
      • In these following games, the players won't know which decks are chosen by the opponent.

Conquest[edit | edit source]

Conquest is a match format used in tournaments. It is the match format used for the Hearthstone World Championships, with the 2015 Hearthstone World Championship being the first to use Conquest format and the 2018/2019 Hearthstone World Championship being the last. Starting in October 2019, Masters Qualifiers and Masters Tour events resumed using the Conquest match format.[4]

  • Each player brings three or four decks, depending on tournament rules.
    • Each deck must come from a different class (e.g. having two Mage decks is not allowed).
    • Depending on tournament rules, an optional ban phase may be given to players at the start of the 1v1 round, with each player being able to "ban" one of their opponent's decks, preventing it from being played for the entire match.
  • To begin playing a round, each player chooses one of their decks to battle the opponent with, with the deck choice hidden from the opponent. Games are then played out with the following rules.
    • Any deck that wins a game cannot be played again, and another deck must be chosen to play the next game.
    • Any deck that is defeated may be played again in the next game.
  • The first player to win with two of their decks (in a best-of-3 series) or all three of their decks (in a best-of-5 series) wins the match.

Last Hero Standing[edit | edit source]

Last Hero Standing is a match format used in tournaments.

  • Each player brings three or four decks, depending on tournament rules.
    • Each deck must come from a different class (e.g. having two Mage decks is not allowed).
    • Depending on tournament rules, an optional ban phase may be given to players at the start of the 1v1 round, with each player being able to "ban" one of their opponent's decks, preventing it from being played for the entire match.
  • To begin playing a round, each player chooses one of their decks to battle the opponent with, with the deck choice hidden from the opponent. Games are then played out with the following rules.
    • Any deck that wins a game remains to be used for the next game.
    • Any deck that is defeated is "eliminated", and one of the remaining decks is chosen to play the next game.
  • The first player to eliminate all of their opponent's decks wins the match.

Tournament formats[edit | edit source]

Tournament formats are formats used for determining how players advance through a tournament bracket. Common tournament formats include: Single-elimination, Double-elimination, Round-robin, and Swiss tournament formats.[5][6] Blizzard also uses a special Dual Tournament tournament format.[7]

Single Elimination[edit | edit source]

Single Elimination can be the simplest and fastest tournament format to run. Competitors face off in a first round of matches and the winners of those matches move on to face the winners of other matches. Losers are eliminated from the tournament. Matches continue until only two competitors remain to face off in a final grand battle.

The downside to Single Elimination is that tournament competitors are eliminated very quickly, and players who lost early may feel less involved in the rest of the tournament proceedings. Luck can also play a role in determining unfavorable matches between players of differing skill-levels at the start of the tournament.

Double Elimination[edit | edit source]

Double Elimination tournaments are similar to Single Elimination tournaments, with the difference being that there exists a winner's bracket and a loser's bracket. When a player loses a match from the winner's bracket, instead of being eliminated, they are moved to the lower bracket and have another chance to stay in the tournament by facing off against another player who also lost their first match. Eventually, the last player standing in the winner's bracket and the loser's bracket face off against each other in a final grand battle.

Round Robin[edit | edit source]

Round Robin tournaments consist of non-elimination matches, so even if a player loses a match, they can still continue to play. Each participant plays against every other participant for the same number of matches and the results of those matches are tracked by the organizer. After all the matches are played, the winner is the player with the best win vs. loss record. This format is great for a small number of players, since it allows everyone to participate.

The downside of Round Robin is that there are more numbers to keep track of for large groups of people, and it can be time-consuming. Round Robins can also be less exciting since there is no "grand final" match.

Double Round Robin is a tournament format like Round Robin, but every participant plays against every other participant not once but twice.

Swiss[edit | edit source]

Swiss is a non-eliminating tournament format, similar to Round Robin, featuring considerably less rounds. In a Swiss tournament, competitors are paired with opponents using a set of rules designed to ensure that each competitor plays opponents with similar running scores, but not the same opponent more than once. The winner is the competitor with the highest aggregate points earned in total in all rounds. All competitors play in each round unless there is an odd number of players, in which case 'byes' may be given to players to advance them into a round.

For a large number of entrants, the Swiss tournament format is usually preferred when a Round Robin tournament format is too time-consuming and not feasible.

Dual Tournament[edit | edit source]

Dual Tournament is a special tournament format used by Blizzard Entertainment which takes in 3-4 people and outputs a 2-person group which moves out of the tournament bracket and on to the next stage of the tournament.[7] Dual Tournament is used primarily for 4-person groups but can also be used for 3-person groups.

  • Initially, the highest-seeded player plays the lowest-seeded player (Initial Match 1) and the two middle-seeded players play each other (Initial Match 2).
    • The 2 players who win their Initial Matches advance to the Winner's Match.
    • The 2 players who do not win their Initial Matches are placed into an Elimination Match.
  • In the Winner's Match:
    • The player who wins advances out of the tournament bracket with a 2-0 win record.
    • The player who does not win is placed into the Decider Match.
  • In the Elimination Match:
    • The player who wins advances to the Decider Match.
    • The player who does not win is eliminated.
  • The player who did not win the Winner's Match and the player who won the Elimination Match face each other in a final Decider Match.
    • The player who wins the Decider Match advances out of the tournament bracket with a 2-1 win record.
    • The player who does not win is eliminated.

Before the start of matches, if specified in the tournament rules, the highest-seeded player can receive an 'advantage' going into the Dual Tournament bracket:

  • In a 3-person group, the highest-seeded player may receive an advantage of an automatic win.
  • In a 4-person group, the highest-seeded player may receive an advantage of an automatic win over the fourth-seeded player.

Official tournaments[edit | edit source]

Hearthstone Masters[edit | edit source]

Hearthstone Masters is the new three-tiered tournament structure implemented by Blizzard in 2019.[1] The tournament structure includes three concurrently-running tournaments of competitive play:

  • Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers - the entry-level tier of competition via the online Battlefy platform
  • Hearthstone Masters Tour - three annual live events where Masters Qualifiers winners and other invitees compete for massive prizes
  • Hearthstone Grandmasters - the highest official level of tournament play where Grandmasters compete for ultimate prize money and the glory of potentially becoming Hearthstone World Champion

This three-tiered tournament scene replaced the Hearthstone World Championship Tour in 2019 as the official tournament structure after the conclusion of the 2018/2019 Hearthstone World Championship.[1] The reason was to simplify the convolutions of the previous tournament system, the HCT, and to bring about new fresh changes to tournament organization.

Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers[edit | edit source]

Masters Qualifiers is the entry-level tier of competition, open to all who want to become a Hearthstone esports player. Each week during the Masters Qualifiers season, 30 tournaments are run online through Battlefy, with players having the ability to choose a time to participate that would be conducive to their schedule. Players are able to compete in any region, as long as they possess a collection for that region. The champion of each Masters Qualifiers receives an invite to one of three $250,000 Masters Tour events (see below), where they will face off against name-brand pros and fellow qualifiers winners.[8]

Hearthstone Masters Tour[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hearthstone Masters Tour

The Masters Tour consists of three live events, one in North America, one in Asia, and one in Europe. The Masters Tour consists of invitation-only tournaments where Masters Qualifiers winners will compete with the biggest names in Hearthstone esports. Each tournament will have around 300 competitors, all competing for a share of a $500,000 prize pool. Masters Tour events will be played the same way as Masters Qualifiers. Players who finish the Masters Tour with a large point pool have the opportunity to take part in the premier tier of play, Hearthstone Grandmasters.[9]

Hearthstone Grandmasters[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hearthstone Grandmasters

Hearthstone Grandmasters is the official premier level of tournament play in Hearthstone, consisting of two eight-week seasons. 48 of the world's top Hearthstone players compete, coming from three regions — 16 each from the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions. The ultimate winners of each region are made eligible to participate in the Hearthstone Global Finals, which the winner thereof is crowned the Hearthstone World Champion.

The initial set of 2019 Grandmasters were chosen based on lifetime earnings, competitive points earned, and other criteria such as contributions to the Hearthstone community.[10] Onwards after the end of 2019 Grandmasters Season 2, players relegated from Grandmasters will officially be replaced with new players who have earned the most money from the Masters Tour program from all three Masters Tour events.[11]

With this new top-tier competitive scene, Blizzard entertains players and fans alike on twitch.tv/playhearthstone with many interesting, shocking, and eye-bulging plays from players every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 2am to 4pm PT.

Hearthstone Global Finals[edit | edit source]

The Hearthstone Global Finals is a special week-long event featuring the pinnacle of tournament play in Hearthstone and is the annual decider of the Hearthstone World Champion. Only players who have gone through the tribulations of the Hearthstone Grandmasters program and emerged victorious are able to battle it out for ultimate prize and glory in the Hearthstone Global Finals.

The Hearthstone Global Finals began in BlizzCon in 2019 as the new way in which the Hearthstone World Champion would be crowned.[12] Previously, the Hearthstone Championship Tour tournament system was used to crown the World Champion.

Hearthstone Global Games[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hearthstone Global Games

In October 2016, a new international tournament was announced to be hosted, titled the Hearthstone Global Games.[13] It is an official Blizzard tournament in which teams from selected nations compete against each other. Specially selected players from around the world are placed onto the roster for their region's team.

Hearthstone Collegiate National Championship[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hearthstone Collegiate National Championship

In August 2015, a new collegiate tournament was announced to be hosted,[14] and currently it is titled the Hearthstone® Collegiate National Championship.[15] It is a team event tournament where three-player teams from across the United States and Canada work together to achieve victory and win scholarship money. The top team from each of four regions will move on to compete for ultimate victory at a live finals event.

Fireside Gatherings[edit | edit source]

Main article: Fireside Gathering

Fireside Gatherings are real-world gatherings of people to play Hearthstone in public gathering spots.[16] They are intended to be an opportunity for Hearthstone players to meet, mingle, and form real-life friendships, as well as enjoy playing the game face-to-face with opponents in either casual play or in tournament mode format. Fireside Gatherings are meant to take place in public hangouts such as coffee shops, book stores, game stores, dorms, college meeting rooms, recreation centers, and hotel ballrooms.[5] These events can range in sizes from 5-10 people convening in small groups, to 100+ people in large groups.[17]

Legacy official tournaments[edit | edit source]

Hearthstone Championship Tour[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hearthstone World Championship

Blizzard-sanctioned tournaments mainly revolve around accumulating Hearthstone Championship Points for the annual Hearthstone Championship Tour, with Season Playoffs and Season Championships leading up to the main tournament event, culminating in the Hearthstone World Championship.[18] The Hearthstone World Championship is the largest Hearthstone tournament in the world, where 16 exceptional players from around the globe come together to duel for glory.

The Hearthstone Championship Tour was discontinued and replaced by Hearthstone Masters in 2019.

Hearthstone Majors and Cups[edit | edit source]

Hearthstone Majors and Cups are, respectively, major and minor tournaments which offer Hearthstone Competitive Points as rewards to players who perform well in these tournaments, so that they may advance and compete in the Season Playoffs for the Hearthstone World Championship Tour.

"Blizzard-sanctioned events fall into two point-granting categories: online events that are submitted and approved are considered Cups; events with a larger prize pool are Majors. Cup events on the Hearthstone Championship Tour are the most numerous and offer the greatest number of chances for the greatest number of players to join the HCT tournament system. You can earn points from only one Cup event per month and your best Cup result for the month will be the only result used to grant you HC points. Majors come with higher stakes, bigger prize pools, and can take place at some of the biggest events in esports."[18]

Tavern Hero Tournaments[edit | edit source]

Main article: Tavern Hero Tournaments

Tavern Hero Tournaments are special Blizzard-sanctioned Hearthstone tournaments at Fireside Gatherings, taking place in select locations across the Americas. Winners from Tavern Hero Tournaments are named "Tavern Heroes" and are invited to compete in the next upcoming Season Playoffs for the Hearthstone World Championship Tour.

Other tournaments[edit | edit source]

Various low-level and high-level tournaments have been organized by fans and gaming communities. Many such tournaments are sponsored by pro-gaming organizations.

International tournaments[edit | edit source]

International tournaments are usually played in a team vs. team format. Teams are usually organized into regions specific to their geographic location, regardless of whether or not the game is local or online. These regions include:

  • North America (NA), including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the various US territories;
  • European Union (EU), including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, etc.
  • Asia-Pacific (AP), including Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, and sometimes Australia.
  • Oceania (O), including Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
  • General (G), including countries not covered above.

Tournament leagues[edit | edit source]

NB: This section was created in 2015 and may be outdated.

Pro Circuit
Pro-Am Circuit
Amateur Circuit
All-Rank Circuit
Non-Rank Circuit

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Introducing Hearthstone Masters. (February 21, 2019). Retrieved on 2019-09-15.
  2. Blizzard Entertainment (August 18, 2019). A Remixed Format and More for Grandmasters. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dylan Walker & Blizzard Entertainment (August 18, 2019). A Champion is Crowned in Seoul. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Blizzard Entertainment (September 16, 2019). Changes for Masters Qualifiers, Ladder, and More. Retrieved on 2019-09-16.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Blizzard Entertainment. How to host your own Fireside Gathering event. Retrieved on 2017-04-18.
  6. Blizzard Entertainment (July 30, 2019). 2019 HEARTHSTONE TOURNAMENT PLAYER HANDBOOK V1.4 (page 11 of PDF). Retrieved on 2019-09-26.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Blizzard Entertainment (July 30, 2019). 2019 HEARTHSTONE TOURNAMENT PLAYER HANDBOOK V1.4 (page 13 of PDF). Retrieved on 2019-09-22.
  8. Blizzard Entertainment. Masters Qualifiers - Esports - Hearthstone. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  9. Blizzard Entertainment. Masters Tour - Esports - Hearthstone. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  10. Blizzard Entertainment. Grandmasters - Esports - Hearthstone. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  11. Blizzard Entertainment (July 30, 2019). 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules v1.4 (page 9 of PDF). Retrieved on 2019-10-05.
  12. Blizzard Entertainment (July 7, 2019). BlizzCon to Host the Hearthstone Global Finals!. Retrieved on 2019-09-22.
  13. Hearthstone 2017 Esports Preview!. (2016-10-26). 
  14. The TeSPA Collegiate Hearthstone Championship is Coming!. (2015-08-31). 
  15. TeSPA Compete - TeSPA Tournament Portal. (2016-12-20). Retrieved on 2017-04-06.
  16. Fireside Gatherings - Battle.net. Retrieved on 2017-04-10.
  17. Zeriyah (2014-04-17). Introducing Fireside Gatherings! - Battle.net forums. Retrieved on 2017-04-18.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Hearthstone Championship Tour - Battle.net. Retrieved on 2017-04-06.

External links[edit | edit source]

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