With YouTube and ESL deals ending in 2022, Blizzard confirms the Hearthstone Esports circuit for 2023. “HSE will exist next year”, Abar said
Abar responded to the competitive community, confirming that Hearthstone will have an esports scene in 2023. Why is 2022 a turning point?
Today on Twitter, Abar, Hearthstone Esports Product Manager, confirmed that there will be an official ecosystem in 2023. With the YouTube and ESL contracts ending on December 2022, many feared that the lack of announcements could mean bad news. Fortunately for Hearthstone fans, there will be a 2023 World Championship. Let’s go over why we are at a turning point for Hearthstone Esports.
Hearthstone Esports in 2023
Until today, pro-players and the community were anxious to know what would happen to Hearthstone Esports in 2023. While Blizzard usually takes its time to make announcements, this year was particularly problematic due to the ending of YouTube and ESL deals.
To increase anxiety, despite Hearthstone Esports announcing in December 2021 the culmination of their Grandmasters program this year, there is no news of what would happen next. During 2022, only the first six months of ladder were meaningful for competitive play. With half a year empty of incentives, players expected an announcement that wouldn’t be just “wait until 2023”.
Hearthstone Grandmasters has already ended. Two ladder seasons have passed without any competitive meaning. There are only two major esports events left before the 2022 World Championship. Still, now concrete news about how Hearthstone Esports will be in 2023.
YouTube and ESL deals ending in 2022
YouTube and Blizzard signed in January 2020 a 3-year exclusivity deal for the esports broadcasts, including Hearthstone. This transition from Twitch to YouTube had a massive impact on viewership, with Hearthstone competitive broadcasts losing almost 80% of its audience in the first year. The contract ends in December 2022, and there isn’t any news about renewal or a Twitch switch.
Furthermore, in 2021, Blizzard signed a 2 year deal with ESL to run the Hearthstone Esports scene. Another contract that finishes by the end of 2022 with little news about what was going to happen. With all this in mind, it’s understandable that fans and players are expecting any kind of news.
What’s coming next?
Well, it’s hard to say, but there are some leads we could speculate around. The first one of them is the development of the Battlegrounds Lobby Legends esports scene. The $500,000 program saw the return of Twitch broadcasts, with amazing results. Since Battlegrounds Esports was something that emerged after the YouTube deal and wasn’t included in it, Blizzard decided to bring their Twitch channels back to life.
Could this be a prelude to what would come in 2023? Would we see a new competitive system for Hearthstone esports or just the same Masters Tours, Seasonal Championships and Worlds we got in 2022, just without Grandmasters?
Hard to say, but one thing that brings hope is that Abar breathes Hearthstone Esports, and the community trusts him.