We’re just three months into 2013, and it’s already been an action-packed year for StarCraft II. Heart of the Swarm launched around the world, the Global Invasion launch event and eSports competition at MLG Dallas achieved phenomenal viewership, we celebrated the 15-year anniversary for the StarCraft universe . . . and we're not even close to done yet.
Today, in partnership with some of the biggest names in eSports, we’re excited to share some news that will bring StarCraft II eSports to a whole new level. In collaboration with the Korean eSports Association (KeSPA), OnGameNet, GomTV, Major League Gaming (MLG), Turtle Entertainment (best known for Intel Extreme Masters series), and Twitch, we’re pleased to bring you the StarCraft II World Championship Series 2013!
Surveying the Battlefield
Following last year's World Championship Series, which capped off with the epic Battle.net World Championship in Shanghai, China, we took a few steps back to survey the landscape of StarCraft II competition. We were incredibly pleased to see that so many of you have rallied together to foster the growth of the fantastic StarCraft community over the past few years, with an explosion of leagues, tournaments, and events around the world—and while that enthusiasm spawned an awesome and vibrant eSports ecosystem, we recognized that there were opportunities to make things even better.
First, while the abundance of tournaments spawned tons of lively competition, it also made it difficult for players and teams to avoid scheduling conflicts. More importantly, for spectators, there was nothing tying the events together to create a unified storyline, and it was hard to identify who the best players were from week to week.
Leveling Up StarCraft II eSports
The 2013 World Championship Series makes for the perfect opportunity to improve StarCraft II eSports for fans, pro gamers, and leagues. After much discussion and collaboration with our partners, we’ve developed a new tournament series with a cohesive structure and unified global point ranking system that ties major StarCraft II competition together. The StarCraft II WCS will give eSports fans an exciting, globe-circling story to follow throughout the year, and we'd like to share a few details about how it all works with you here.
This year's World Championship Series consists of three equal leagues in three regions around the world, each running in parallel. The 2013 WCS is divided into three seasons, running from April 4 through the weekend of November 8, when it all caps off with the WCS Global Finals at BlizzCon 2013. (It’s also worth noting that in 2014, we plan to kick off the WCS earlier in the year, expanding the competition to include a total of four seasons.) Below you’ll find a more detailed look at the flow of an individual season.
Each season, the three regional leagues will host StarCraft II competitions over a period of several weeks. Once that regional action is done, the top performers from each region will battle in an epic Season Finals at a live event hosted by one of the regions. The top six players from the region hosting the event will be joined by the top five players from the two other regions to engage in a fierce 16-player tournament.
Players will continue to earn points based on their performance as they battle from season to season, and the 16 players with the highest rankings after the year’s last Season Finals event will receive an invitation to compete at the Global Finals at BlizzCon in Anaheim, California. These 16 players will then compete for the chance to be crowned the 2013 StarCraft II World Champion.
Building a Team
The new series will kick off on April 4 with WCS Korea GSL, hosted by GomTV. The next season, WCS Korea Starleague, will be operated by OnGameNet. The two companies will then continue alternate hosting WCS Korea seasons, with participation from KeSPA and eSF players. Both of the league operators in Korea will maintain their unique branding and structure, and will work in collaboration to broadcast all of the action for WCS Korea worldwide. Additionally, Major League Gaming and Turtle Entertainment will take the helm to manage the American and European leagues, respectively.
We're also happy to announce that we've partnered with Twitch in order to broadcast the World Championship Series globally through a unified StarCraft II destination, making it so viewers can find StarCraft II content in a consistent location and on a convenient and predictable schedule. What’s more, you'll be able to catch every bit of the WCS premier competition for free in ad-supported 720p HD. Keep an eye out for more information.
An Exciting Future for eSports
Using a unified ranking system to track player performance across multiple seasons and events will help make it easier to clearly identify the world's best StarCraft II players, and make it so everyone can follow along with their favorite players as stories and events unfold. Every match will carry added excitement, and every outcome will be more meaningful.
We’ll provide much more detailed information in the near future for those who seek it, but in the meantime, we hope that you’re as excited about what’s in store as we are. We look forward to the beginning of the World Championship Series this month, and we can’t wait to see how the competitive StarCraft II scene will evolve over the course of the year. We wish all of our players, partners, and event organizers the best of luck in 2013, and we hope that audiences worldwide will enjoy the ride.
Q: How do players qualify for the first season of WCS this year?
A: Initially, players will be organized into divisions based on league partner ratings and seeds. WCS will function in much the same way that GSL does now. Divisions will be named Premier, Challenger, and Qualifier, and are comparable to GSL Code S, Code A, and Code B, respectively. We’ll have more information to share on the process very soon, so stay tuned!
Q: What about other tournaments? Does this mean there will be no leagues outside of WCS?
A: Not at all! Other tournaments will be free to carry on with their own competitions, so long as their broadcasts do not overlap with WCS events. These events continue to play home to some awesome StarCraft II eSports action, and we're dedicated to preserving as much of the existing landscape as possible. Select tournaments and leagues will even contribute to players' WCS point rankings, even though they aren't part of the WCS itself. This should help create a niche for these competitions in the system and encourage pro players to continue competing in them as before. Our goal was to create an approach that affords as much opportunity as possible to other competitions, and offers a variety of options for players and spectators.
Q: Will players be restricted to certain WCS regions by residency or nationality? Can pro players who live outside of Korea, America, or Europe join?
A: Players are free to join any regional league they wish by declaring their region of choice at the beginning of the year. That means it's possible you'll see Korean players who reside in other regions joining WCS America or WCS Europe—and we hope to see players from other regions participate in WCS.
Q: Where can I find more information?
A: We know you’re looking forward to hearing more information about the WCS, and we’ll share more details as soon as we can. We’re also planning to give you opportunities to ask questions, including an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit in the future. Stay tuned!