Blizzard Entertainment is letting go of the reigns over StarCraft II as an esports title. The publisher, which had been in control of the legendary RTS' competitive scene for the majority of the past decade, is partnering with tournament organizers ESL and DreamHack to run the competitive scene for them for the coming three years. Blizzard's role is shifting from organizer to supporter: they will supply each year of competitive StarCraft II with more than $1,200,000 USD in prize money.
The announcement reads: "To replace WCS, we are excited to announce the new ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II and DreamHack SC2 Masters. The two will combine to create the new SC2 esports circuit moving forward. ESL and DreamHack have been trusted vendor for Blizzard esports, particularly StarCraft II, for many years. We know that this amazing community is in incredibly good hands. This new ecosystem will feature six international tournaments a year—four with DreamHack, two with ESL—as well as weekly competitions that will feed into the ESL events."
2020's competitive year reaches its climax at IEM Katowice in 2021, where the StarCraft World Championship will be held. Though there is a shift of focus, StarCraft II esports won't disappear from BlizzCon completely, though Blizzard hasn't shared their plans for their convention yet.
StarCraft counts, for many, as the godfather of all esports. The original game sprouted massive tournaments decades ago, and paved the way for many other games. When StarCraft II was released in 2010, that growth continued for two years, spearheaded by third party organizers. However, following changes made to the system by Blizzard themselves, with the publisher taking control of the competitive environment, the popularity plummetted. By putting third party organizers in charge once more, perhaps StarCraft II can climb back to its glory days. The partnership lasts for three years at minimum, but will no doubt be extended if it proves to have merit for both parties.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.