Blizzard have announced an ambitious new format for Starcraft II's World Championship Series eSports event. This year, players will compete in unified leagues - divided into three regions - across three seasons. The aim is to cut down on the game's traditionally divided leagues and tournaments, providing fans with a focal championship with which to settle arguments over which race is massively OP. And to enjoy the game, I guess.
"While the abundance of tournaments spawned tons of lively competition, it also made it difficult for players and teams to avoid scheduling conflicts," Blizzard write . "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.
Here's how Blizzard explain the exact format: "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."
Blizzard are working in collaboration with OnGameNet, GomTV, MLG and Turtle Entertainment to host the regional leagues in Korea, America and Europe. But rather than bounce viewers between the respective channels, games will be accessible through a global Twitch stream, ensuring a consistent location and predictable schedule.
As someone who's casually followed SC2 eSports in the past, a single source for regular matches across one giant championship sounds ideal. The community has made the most out of the disparate events of past years, but unless you're a dedicated follower, it's been hard to really understand why you should care about any particular tournament. And for those wary of a unified structure, Blizzard assure that separate tournaments will still occur, "so long as their broadcasts do not overlap with WCS events."
For more, we chatted with Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime. Keep an eye out for the interview later today.