Breitbart has learned that Blizzard has reportedly contacted organisations under the umbrella of the Korean eSports Association (KeSPA) and organisations with South Korean players to inform them of drastic changes coming to the next season of their World Championship Series for StarCraft 2.
Previously the system had worked by having two major leagues in South Korea and one global league called WCS Premier as the main way of earning “circuit points” for a global world ranking. These points could be augmented through competing in tournaments that were sanctioned by Blizzard, giving players a degree of control over when and where they competed. These tournaments were open to all players of all nationalities without any restrictions.
As such the WCS system had come under some criticism from StarCraft enthusiasts, most notably the ease with which experienced South Korean players were able to move to other regions and experience an easier level of competition. Blizzard had introduced more robust rules surrounding eligibility in a bid to combat this which ensured that South Koreans were prevented from competing in WCS Premier unless they had a recognised work or P1 athletic visa. The new look WCS seems to be a continuation of this policy.
The World Championship Series shall now be divided into two parts, WCS Global, which shall incorporate the South Korean Global StarCraft League (GSL) and StarCraft 2 StarLeague (SSL), and the WCS Circuit, which shall have events run by Red Bull, Intel Extreme Masters, and DreamHack. Players will only be allowed to compete in the WCS Circuit component if they have a work or P1 athletic visa that is valid in Europe or North America. A tourist visa will not be sufficient to compete. The top eight players from WCS Global and the top eight from the WCS circuit will go on to make the final sixteen that compete at the WCS Finals at Blizzard’s annual convention, Blizzcon.
To put the South Korean dominance of the old WCS in context, since the introduction of WCS there have only been two non-Korean players make it to the Blizzcon finals, Johan “NaNiwa” Lucchesi in 2013 and David “Lilbow” Moschetto in 2015. The new system would seem certain to ensure that more players from outside of South Korea were represented at the finals.
Our sources also indicated that the competition run by TakeTV, the HomeStory Cup, was to be part of the WCS Circuit component as well. This reputedly didn’t come to pass after the organiser, Dennis “TaKe” Gehlen, rejected the idea that South Korean players would essentially be excluded from his event if he agreed to be part of the circuit. Moving forward, the HomeStory Cup shall no longer have WCS ranking points as part of its prize.
The removal of WCS Premier cannot be understated. Last year Blizzard pushed that tournament in terms of publicity only for it to be non-existent in 2016. Breitbart understands that the prize money from the now defunct league shall used to increase the prize money for the tournaments on the WCS Circuit.
So far the email communicating these changes has only been officially sent out to the South Korean region, however the changes are causing quite a stir, and it is unlikely that Blizzard will be able to avoid making an official statement on the changes for much longer.
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