At least we had chicken.
There will be significant cuts for the competitive side of Hearthstone this year, with just three online-only Masters Tour events for the year with no prize pool at stake, and only the 16-player world championship offering any sort of monetary incentive in 2023.
Following the news, which was shared by the title’s esports team, players and developers alike voiced their disappointment about the new direction on Twitter.
Hearthstone esports is returning to Twitch, but it may be too little, too late. The tenth year of the competitive scene will only feature four events hosted across the entire year for Standard, three of which wont have a prize pool at all: the old Masters Tour events were revamped to function as qualifiers for the eight-player world championship, with ladder results serving as the only way to qualify.Image via Blizzard Entertainment
Meanwhile, the esports portion of Battlegrounds, known as Lobby Legends, will only feature three tournaments across the yearone for each expansionwith a paltry $50,000 prize pool up for grabs in each of them.
Heading into the 2023 season, we have been evaluating the state of our competitive program and the best format for it to take moving forward,” the Hearthstone team said in their blog. “Last fall, we began thinking about setting Hearthstone Esports up for sustainability as it turns a decade old, balancing the realities of an ever-changing production landscape, sizing the program according to its audience, and finding the most direct path forward for players to compete.
The FAQ section of the blog post is extremely blunt, asking pointed questions like Does this mean that Hearthstone is declining/failing?, Does this mean HS Esports is being canceled in 2024?, and Is this because of low viewership from being exclusive to YouTube the last three years?. None of the answers actually provide reassurances to fans of high-level Constructed Hearthstone going forward, however.
Influential fans and players alike voiced their disappointment on social media about this announcement.
Cora Songbird Georgiou, who started out as a commentator and moved on to become a senior designer on the game, stated shes very frustrated, with Chadd Celestalon Nervig, the Hearthstone Features Lead, responding with same.
Meanwhile, Frodan called the announcement disappointing beyond belief.
The person who wrote this blog post makes more than [what a top four player will win], Radu RDU Dima said in a summary on the matter.
The current world champion, Raphael Bunnyhoppor Peltzer pulled no punches, calling Hearthstone esports essentially cancelled, adding this is truly a sad day for everyone in HS.
Hearthstones esports broadcasts have been in decline for a while, and the 2022 edition of the World Championship had the worst viewership stats in the competitions history, peaking at just 21,786 viewers and averaging 13,044.
Blizzards deal with YouTube significantly damaged the interest in the scene, and even if the numbers will go back up somewhat with the return to Twitch, CoD-style, its hard to envision a future for a once ultra-popular and trailblazing competition.