New StarCraft Professional Tournament, ESL Pro Tour, to Replace the WCS

New StarCraft Professional Tournament, ESL Pro Tour, to Replace the WCS
Credit: StarCraft via YouTube

There’s been plenty of news coming out of the StarCraft esports scene since 2020 turned the corner. Recently, we reported on the finished roster of the upcoming AusCraft tournament beginning this Friday, and there’s already something new to discuss – and it’s pretty major.

The World Championship Series – or WCS – has defined much of Starcraft Esports. Taking place over an entire year, the circuit consisted of games played in front of a global audience as players compete to claim their fame, as well as their share of the $2,000,000 prize pool. By the end of the year, the top eight players from the two systems of the WCS – WCS Korea and WCS Circuit – would compete for the ultimate victory at the WCS Global Finals, with a prize pool of half a million dollars.

Today, however, StarCraft Esports announced that they would be refreshing the circuit. The World Championship Series has now been replaced with the Electronic Sports League – or ESL – with a new circuit based around the same format.

So what does this change for StarCraft esports? Not much, other than there being more on offer. Blizzard also highlights upcoming changes to the way that StarCraft esports will interact with BlizzCon, though they don’t give many specifics.

“The global finals will shift to the new IEM Katowice World Championship in 2021. This means SC2 esports at BlizzCon will look different in the future, but it will still bet here, and we will share more details about how that will look later.”

Other than that, though, things will be staying essentially the same. There will be the addition of the DreamHack SC2 Masters which, in conjunction with the ESL Pro Tour, will create the new StarCraft esports circuit.

This system has four DreamHack tournaments and two ESL tournaments, along with weekly competitions that will lead into ESL. There will also be more opportunities to enjoy the competitions in person.

Blizzard intends to step back and give most of the control to ESL and DreamHack, allowing the two to take the reins while Blizzard instead serves as an “overall support network for the new system.” To accent that, Blizzard will provide the prizing for all three years of this current deal, prizing that will total more than $3,600,000. For the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the release of StarCraft II, the 2020-2021 ESL/DreamHack circuit will also have a larger combined prize pool of nearly $2,000,000.

The World Championship Series is dead – long live ESL and DreamHack!