With COVID-19 making offline esports events a thing of the past, this week ESL and Dreamhack were the latest gaming companies to announce a reorganisation of their newly launched ESL Pro Tour for 2020.
The recently announced ESL Pro Tours for Starcraft II and Warcraft III were to include three offline tournaments before the years’ end, in locations across Europe and North America.
These have now been scuppered by the global pandemic, replaced by three multi-regional online cups.
The Starcraft cups will feature seasons lasting 5 or 6 weeks made up of qualifiers followed by group play and an elimination bracket, with each respective world regions represented.
The top player(s) in each region will then progress to the season finals, which will see a global weekend competition similar to that of an offline event.
The changes will see an additional 75 competition days being added to the calendar, which in percentage terms is an extra 270% of non-stop, fast-paced RTS action.
Senior Product Manager at ESL, Shaun Clark, said the aim is to deliver even more esports content to entertain the RTS communities.
“We are confident that this is the best design that Starcraft II & Warcraft III can get in 2020, combining regional & global competition while providing a clear pathway to the Masters Championship of 2021,” he said.
The changes have received positive reviews by members of the community, with many people welcoming the increase in the amount of competitive Starcraft & Warcraft to be on offer.
Australian Starcraft player Probe, who plays for Legacy Esports and represented Australia at IEM Katowice earlier in the year, congratulated the ESL team.
It’s been hard grinding without knowing what was coming up.— Sean Kempen (@Probe_SC2) May 13, 2020
Great changes and work done by the ESL team 👍 https://t.co/3qwvbtbzad
Specific to the Starcraft Oceania / South East Asia scene, the initial season will see two players receive invites, while six players will advance through qualifiers.
These eight players will then play in two four player GSL-style groups before a four-player double elimination bracket to decide the winner.
The winner will then advance to the season finals, where they will face off against the world best in another sixteen-man tournament.
Warcraft III will operate under a similar tournament system, except with the Oceanic region forced to compete with either the North American or Asian region for spots.
As the seasons unfold along the road to the global competition, stay glued to ESL’s Pro Tour website for event information and links to watch online, and to Snowball Esports for coverage of Oceania’s competition.