Blizzard has revealed more details about the Global Games, its new Hearthstone eSports competition format that pits teams, rather than individual players, against each other. The tournament will feature 48 teams, each from a different country, competing in a series of round-robin tournaments online.The top four teams left standing will compete face-to-face in the Global Games Final Tournament later in the year. Hearthstone, a card-based fighting game that's not unlike an electronic version of Magic: The Gathering, has proven to be popular on the eSports scene, especially the banter-laden team games. It appeals to both casual gamers and pros because it's relatively easy to learn and find opponents. At the same time, it requires sophisticated strategies at the highest levels.
Blizzard has solidified Hearthstone's annual flow of retiring old cards and welcoming new ones: For the third year in a row, a new expansion will come in April that signals a sea change in the digital card game. While we don't know the title or flavor of Hearthstone's next set, we do have a list of changes and new features that will arrive when 2017's Year of the Mammoth gives way to 2018's Year of the Raven.
The long-awaited first expansion of 2017 for Blizzard's Hearthstone is finally here. Journey To Un'Goro adds 135 cards (gallery here) to the game with fun new functions, but the first content of the year will also retire all of 2015's cards out of the main Standard format. That means saying goodbye to some old frenemies (adios, Ragnaros) and hello to a refreshed meta, a Wild West of untested deck concepts and synergies. A digital cardscape where dinosaurs rule. The new set is a promising collection with two major additions: The "Adapt" mechanic, which allows players to choose between three options to buff a creature, and the new "Elementals" group, which has tribe synergy akin to pirates and murlocs.
Twitch has a deal to be the exclusive third-party home for streaming eSports competitions on top Blizzard games. The Amazon-owned streaming service will broadcast more than 20 events and competitions for online games such as Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone and Starcraft II through 2018. "We've had great experiences and a long history of working with Twitch, and we're thrilled that this landmark agreement with them will help us bring some of the most exciting eSports action in the world to Twitch fans and everyone who follows Blizzard eSports," said Frank Pearce, chief product officer and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, in a statement. Also as part of the deal, Twitch Prime members can sync their game accounts to get special perks to use in Blizzard games Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm. The first perk, a Golden Loot Box for Overwatch is available, starting Tuesday and through August 10, which earns members a special guaranteed legendary item to use in the game, along with other in-game items including emotes, voice lines, or character skins.
UPDATE: I've been able to log in, but the servers are still super glitchy. Like the start of every big Blizzard expansion release, there has to be a bit of a bumpy start. Hearthstone just released their newest expansion, Journey To Un'Goro, or at least tried to. Millions of players logging in at once and opening 50 pre-order packs must have been too much for the servers to handle, because the entire game is down. Try waiting a few hours to try out all the Elementals, everything should be up and running soon.