StarCraft II WCS 2014 brings about many welcome changes to the eSports format.
StarCraft II's 2013 eSports season ended with a bang at BlizzCon, as the Protoss player sOs took a stunning victory. The event was one of the best in StarCraft II history, with over 120,000 viewers tuning in for the final match. Blizzard aims to address many of the problems that the community and professional players had with the WCS eSports format in the upcoming WCS 2014. StarCraft II is arguably the eSport with the highest skill cap, and provides a top tier experience for the viewer. Despite these facts, viewership is down slightly over previous SCII seasons. With the 2014 WCS season, Blizzard aims to put StarCraft II back on the eSports throne.
The 2013 WCS season was very convoluted: tournaments had overlapping schedules, there were periods of very little scheduled professional play and long running tournaments were quite condensed. WCS 2014 aims to fix this by instituting a linear schedule that is more consistent and to ensure more regular broadcasts, as well as making more time for dedicated third-party tournaments. Blizzard also promises more third-party partner tournaments that give dedicated WCS points.
WCS Korea will see the return of GSL (GOM TV Star League). The GSL is the longest running StarCraft league and is, without a doubt, the most competitive. Korean's have dominated StarCraft eSports since 1999 and the highest paying Korean tournament is truly fierce. To compensate for the much more difficult competition, Blizzard has increased the WCS Korea region prize pool immensely, with almost twice as large a payout as the other regional tournaments.
Korean domination is nothing that professional StarCraft players aren't used to. However, with the introduction of three regions (Korea, America and Europe) in 2013, players and fans alike were upset to see no region lock. Koreans played in all regions and managed to win every single regional final of the year. This lead to a lot of community outrage as fan favourites got knocked out early of many premier tournaments to Korean players. Blizzard is attempting to address this problem by partially region locking the WCS. A majority of 2014 qualifiers will be for players native to the region they are qualifying for.
Finally, the most prominent change is the removal of seasonal international finals. Each year holds three seasons of play and, in 2013, each had an international final. This rendered the regional finals irrelevant, as players would compete a week after each region ended in the higher paying international finals. Blizzard has removed the season finals in an attempt to make the regional season finals more significant.
If you want to learn more about the StarCraft 2014 WCS check out the official announcement.
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