Tournaments

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

As of 2020, the official Hearthstone tournament scene consists of a three-tiered tournament system, collectively called Hearthstone Masters:

1. Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers
2. Hearthstone Masters Tour
3. Hearthstone Grandmasters

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.

Conquest[edit | edit source]

Conquest is the main match format used in official Hearthstone tournaments. The first player to win with all of their decks is the victor.

  • Each player brings a specific number of 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 before the start of matches, with each player being able to "ban" a number of their opponent's decks, preventing them 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.

Conquest has been used for every Hearthstone World Championship, except for the 2019 Hearthstone Global Finals which used Shield-Phase Conquest. The Hearthstone Masters system in 2019 experimented with the Specialist and Shield-Phase Conquest formats, but eventually resumed using Conquest as the main match format starting in Masters Tour Bucharest and in Hearthstone esports 2020.[2]

Last Hero Standing[edit | edit source]

Last Hero Standing is the second main match format used in official tournaments. The first player to knock out all of their opponent's decks is the victor.

  • Each player brings a specific number of 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 before the start of matches, with each player being able to "ban" a number of their opponent's decks, preventing them 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.

Shield-Phase Conquest[edit | edit source]

Shield-Phase Conquest is a match format used in tournaments, identical to Conquest but with a Shield Phase in which players protect one of their decks from being banned.[3]

  • Two players bring four decks, each from a different class.
  • The match starts with a Shield Phase in which both players protect a deck from being banned by the other player.
  • Each player then bans one of their opponents' remaining three unprotected 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 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).

Shield-Phase Conquest was first used in Season 2 of Hearthstone Grandmasters in 2019.[4] In that half of the year, matches were normally played in best-of-3 series, but the semifinals and grand finals were played in best-of-5 series. Shield-Phase Conquest was eventually replaced with the more traditional Conquest format for Hearthstone esports tournaments in 2020.

Specialist[edit | edit source]

Specialist is a match format used in tournaments that implements a form of sideboards for a single class deck.

  • 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.
  • 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 format was first used with the newly implemented Hearthstone Masters tournament system in 2019. Specialist was used in Masters Tour Las Vegas, Masters Tour Seoul, and throughout Season 1 of Hearthstone Grandmasters 2019. It began to be phased out from official tournament play after the conclusion of Masters Tour Seoul in favor of a new Shield-Phase Conquest format in the second half of 2019.[4][2]

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.[5][6] Blizzard also uses a special Dual Tournament tournament format.[7]

Single Elimination[edit | edit source]

Single Elimination is the simplest tournament format; players only require one loss to be eliminated from the tournament. To start off, players are randomly paired in a first round of matches. In subsequent rounds, winners from the previous round play each other. These rounds repeat until only two players remain to face off in a final grand battle. Losers are instantly eliminated from the tournament.

The downside to Single Elimination is that players are eliminated very quickly, and those who lost early may feel less involved in the rest of the tournament. 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 is similar to Single Elimination but with the difference that there exists a winner's bracket and a loser's bracket, with players requiring two losses to be eliminated from the tournament instead of one. 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 is a non-eliminating tournament format in which players play against every other player for the same number of matches. After all matches are played, the winner is the player with the best win-loss record. This format is great for a small number of players, since it allows everyone to participate, and even if a player loses a match, they can still continue to play.

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 in which players 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 player with the highest aggregate points accumulated.

In case of ties, tiebreakers are used such as the performance of opponents, the performance of opponents' opponents, and the timing of losses.[8] All competitors play in each round unless there is an odd number of players, in which case a 'bye' is given to the remaining player to advance them into the next round. Players cannot receive more than one 'bye' during a tournament.

Swiss is similar to Round Robin but features less rounds. For a large number of entrants, Swiss is generally preferred when a Round Robin format is too time-consuming and infeasible.

Dual Tournament[edit | edit source]

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

  • In Initial Match #1 the highest and lowest-seeded players battle. In Initial Match #2 the two middle-seeded players battle.
    • The two players winning their Initial Matches advance to the Winner's Match.
    • The two players losing their Initial Matches are placed into the 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 loses 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, finishing with a (0-2) win record.
  • In the Decider Match, the loser from the Winner's Match and the winner from the Elimination Match battle each other.
    • 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, finishing with a (1-1) win record.

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-player group, the highest-seeded player may receive an advantage of an automatic win.
  • In a 4-player 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 logo.png

Hearthstone Masters is the new three-tiered tournament structure implemented by Blizzard in 2019.[1] The tournament structure includes three concurrently-running tournaments during the year, with a total prize pool in 2020 amounting to $4.5 million:

1. Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers
The entry-level tier of competition via the online Battlefy platform where players compete for card pack prizes and the chance to advance to a Masters Tour event.
2. Hearthstone Masters Tours
Annual live and online events hosted in North America, Asia, and Europe where Masters Qualifiers winners and other invitees compete for massive prize money and the chance to become a Hearthstone Grandmaster. In 2020, an enormous prize pool of $3 million was up for grabs over all Masters Tour events.
3. Hearthstone Grandmasters
The highest level of tournament play where 48 Grandmasters compete for ultimate prize money and the glory of becoming Hearthstone World Champion. Every year over the course of two Grandmaster seasons, a colossal prize pool of $1 million is up for grabs. At the end of the year, eight successful players will compete in the final Hearthstone World Championship for a share of a gigantic prize pool of $500,000.

This three-tiered tournament scene replaced the Hearthstone 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 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 any time they want to participate. Players are able to compete in any region, as long as they possess a collection for that region.

The majority of players win card packs as prizes for participating in the tournament. The ultimate winners upon certain conditions will be eligible to receive an invite to an upcoming Masters Tour event where they will have the chance to face off against name-brand pros and fellow Masters Qualifiers winners.[9]

Hearthstone Masters Tour[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hearthstone Masters Tour

The Masters Tours make up the second level of competitive play and consist of live and online events hosted in North America, Asia, and Europe. These events are invitation-only tournaments where around 300 competitors including Masters Qualifiers winners and seasoned players in Hearthstone battle it out for prize money and recognition in the Hearthstone esports community.

Participating players are able to take home a share of an annual prize pool of $3,000,000. Players who finish Masters Tour events with the most accumulation of prize money have the additional opportunity to be inducted into Hearthstone Grandmasters, the pinnacle of Hearthstone competitive play.[10]

Hearthstone Grandmasters[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hearthstone Grandmasters

Hearthstone Grandmasters is the official highest level of tournament play in Hearthstone in which 48 of the world's top players compete in two grueling seasons spanning 8 weeks each. The 48 Grandmasters that compete come from three regions, 16 each from the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions.

Grandmasters compete for a share of roughly $500,000 in prize money each season. The winners of each season then become eligible to advance to the Hearthstone World Championship in which they compete for a final share of $500,000 in prize money. The winner of the Championship finale is then crowned with the prestigious title of Hearthstone World Champion.

In 2019, the initial set of 48 Grandmasters was chosen based on lifetime earnings, competitive points earned, and other criteria such as contributions to the Hearthstone community.[11] Player relegation officially began at the end of 2019 Grandmasters Season 2, in which players relegated were replaced with new players who earned the most prize money from all three 2019 Masters Tour events.[12]

With this new top-tier competitive scene, Blizzard entertains players and fans alike on Youtube.com/HearthstoneEsports with many interesting, shocking, and eye-bulging plays from players every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 2am to 8pm PDT.

Hearthstone World Championship[edit | edit source]
Main article: Hearthstone World Championship

The Hearthstone World Championship is a special weekend event hosted annually at BlizzCon featuring the grand finale of a year's worth of Grandmaster tournament play. It is the ultimate decider for who will be crowned the Hearthstone World Champion for the year. 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 money and glory.

Hearthstone Global Games[edit | edit source]

Global games logo.png
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]

Fireside Gathering logo.png
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]

From 2014 to 2019, the Hearthstone Championship Tour, or HCT, was the main road traveled for players trying to become a Hearthstone World Champion. It was the official tournament system run by Blizzard during those years, before it was discontinued and replaced by the more simplified Hearthstone Masters system in 2019.

The Hearthstone Championship Tour revolved around accumulating Hearthstone Championship Points to advance to the next phases of competition. This was achieved through competing on Ranked legend ladder, in various small Blizzard-sanctioned tournaments, and in the big Season Playoffs and Season Championships. These events led up to the annual tournament finale, the Hearthstone World Championship, where 16 of the best players from around the world, 4 from each tournament region, gathered together to duel for ultimate prize money and for the prestigious title of Hearthstone World Champion.



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.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Introducing Hearthstone Masters. (February 21, 2019). Retrieved on 2019-09-15.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Blizzard Entertainment (September 16, 2019). Changes for Masters Qualifiers, Ladder, and More. Retrieved on 2019-09-16.
  3. Blizzard Entertainment (August 18, 2019). A Remixed Format and More for Grandmasters. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dylan Walker & Blizzard Entertainment (August 18, 2019). A Champion is Crowned in Seoul. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  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 (2020-05-28). Hearthstone Tournament Player Handbook v2.3 (page 10). Retrieved on 2020-08-29.
  9. Blizzard Entertainment. Masters Qualifiers - Esports - Hearthstone. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  10. Blizzard Entertainment. Masters Tour - Esports - Hearthstone. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  11. Blizzard Entertainment. Grandmasters - Esports - Hearthstone. Retrieved on 2019-08-18.
  12. Blizzard Entertainment (July 30, 2019). 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules v1.4 (page 9 of PDF). Retrieved on 2019-10-05.
  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. Hearthstone Championship Tour - Battle.net. Retrieved on 2017-04-06.

External links[edit | edit source]

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