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Following our recent blog (link) detailing some updates to the rules for the 2016 World of Warcraft Road to BlizzCon, we’ve seen some questions about the rationale behind some of those changes. We’d like to go into more detail on our thinking to help you better understand why we made these changes and why we think they’re the right decisions for the 2016 Arena Championship—and once you’ve had a chance to hear our thoughts, we’d love for you to share any further feedback or concerns you might have.

Every rule change we’re making this year is fully intended to support the Arena community. We made some great strides forward in that regard with the 2015 Road to BlizzCon, and we want to continue that trend in 2016.

Regarding the roster swap rules, there are several contributing factors to our decision to allow one roster swap between qualifiers and regionals. For example, Legion will be rolling out during this time frame, which brings some sweeping changes to classes and other gameplay elements critical to the Arena. Because it will be very difficult (if not impossible) to predict exactly how that will affect everything, we want teams to have a bit of extra flexibility to adjust. We also felt that last year’s roster rules were stricter than they needed to be and wanted to relax them just slightly. We feel that this is the right choice for World of Warcraft competition in 2016.

Next, we wanted to talk about why we’re allowing teams who have already qualified to compete in further events. One of our main goals here is to increase exposure—as well as income opportunities—for top WoW Arena teams. It’s similar to the approach we take with our other games, and even outside of Blizzard, it’s fairly common practice to allow—even encourage—players or teams who’ve qualified for a regional (or equivalent) to continue playing in events leading up to that regional.

This approach provides a number of advantages that can help an esport grow: Viewers are able to see their favorite players and teams competing in more events, which helps those players and teams form a stronger fanbase. Teams have the potential to earn more prize money and get more sponsorship opportunities earlier on, supporting their ability to participate in esports as a career. It’s also worth mentioning that we plan for the qualifier cups to use a double-elimination system this year.

Overall, we feel that allowing teams to compete in multiple events is a good move forward for the growth of WoW esports, but like I said, it’s a change we made to help our top WoW teams. We’ve already been speaking directly with several top-level players and competitors—including previous BlizzCon champions—about these changes, but we’re definitely interested in additional feedback from everyone in the community now that you have a bit more context. If you disagree with this change, what exactly concerns you about it?

We all want to make WoW esports the best it can be, and your constructive feedback is greatly appreciated to help us achieve that. Thanks for all the great discussion so far.

First I would like to see what other examples you guys are looking at where this happens. Perhaps it works well and we just are not aware.
StarCraft, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone’s esports programs all allow qualified teams to compete in further events. It's also common practice in fighting games, and obviously anything that's using a league structure (by which I mean that teams aren’t prohibited from participating in league play once they’ve qualified for a championship event). Many non-Blizzard games that we’d consider major esports use a league structure, which admittedly isn’t an exact 1-to-1 comparison to WoW’s Road to BlizzCon.

What we’re proposing is more similar to StarCraft, Heroes and Hearthstone's systems. Having said that, we of course realize that just because it works for those games doesn't mean it will work for WoW. That’s why we wanted to provide some extra context, and ask how you guys feel about it.

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