About the StarCraft II World Championship Series (WCS)

For information about WCS 2017, please read our announcement here.

The following is a summary of WCS 2016:

The StarCraft II World Championship Series is a year-long event in which players from around the world showcase their skills via competitions for a global audience. Players seek to accumulate WCS Points in one of two separate standings: WCS Korea, or WCS Circuit. WCS Korea is composed of two of the world’s most prestigious StarCraft II leagues, whereas the WCS Circuit invites players to compete in StarCraft II weekend events around the globe. Together, these systems feature a total prize pool of over $2 million, and as players race to accumulate WCS Points, their progress is tracked in the WCS Standings. At the end of each year, the top eight players from each system compete at the WCS Global Playoffs for a prize pool of over $500,000.

Tournament Structure

The WCS Korea Standings represent the highest level of competition in the world. These standings track a player’s success in two renowned Korean leagues—the Global StarCraft II League (GSL) and the StarCraft II StarLeague (SSL). While open to anyone, only the best of the best StarCraft II players on earth have the skill and tenacity necessary to emerge triumphant from within the challenging league play ecosystem in Korea.

The WCS Circuit Standings are an evolution of last year’s WCS Premier League. The WCS Circuit provides a proving ground for stars in regions outside of Korea and includes a variety of tournaments around the world. These tournaments are residency-locked to provide more opportunities to expose, develop, and celebrate the top talent from different parts of the world.

At the end of the year, the top eight players from each system are brought to the WCS Global Playoffs to face off in a showdown with true global representation. From there, half of the players will be eliminated, and the final eight players will move on to face off in the WCS Global Finals. There, the undisputed best players in the world, regardless of region, battle it out on the main stage of the WCS Global Finals.

WCS_Global Finals Playoffs_Final_v2

Qualifying for the Global Playoffs

Players can earn a spot in the WCS Global Playoffs by winning one of the highest-tier major championship events. In total, seven spots will be up for grabs for championship winners. These include four spots from the WCS Korea system (GSL and SSL winners in Season 1 and 2) and three spots from the WCS Circuit system (Winter Championship, Spring Championship, and Summer Championship winners). The remaining spots will be awarded to those players who earn the greatest quantity of WCS Points in their respective standings (four spots are awarded in the WCS Korea system and five spots in the WCS Circuit system).

WCS Korea Information

WCS Korea is open to all players globally and represents the most competitive StarCraft II tournament system, where the very best of the best players go head to head. The vast majority of the league play in this system will take place in Korea, where the highest number of professional StarCraft II teams and players live, train, and compete.

Each league in WCS Korea operates two seasons, making it very easy for people to follow these exciting tournaments. At the end of each season, the stories of both the GSL and SSL leagues will clash in an interleague finals to determine the best StarCraft II player in the WCS Korea system each season. 2016 boasts a significantly increased prize pool for both leagues, and rebroadcasts for both leagues are available during additional peak times.

In order to earn points for the WCS Korea Standings, players must compete in one or both of the two officially-sanctioned global leagues (GSL and SSL). Players can also earn WCS Korea points by competing in sanctioned WCS Global Events. Third-party tournament organizers can apply to host a Blizzard-approved WCS Global Event if they meet specific requirements.



WCS Circuit Standings

The WCS Circuit system is an evolution of last year’s WCS Premier League, with the goal of further enhancing the quality of StarCraft II play in all regions. The WCS Circuit Standings represent pro players living and competing in any region where the StarCraft II competitive scene is still developing and growing, including North America (NA), Europe (EU), Latin America (LATAM), China (CN), Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau (TW), and Australia/New Zealand/Southeast Asia (ANZ/SEA). In order to compete in the WCS Circuit, players must be citizens or residents of one of the eligible regions. Any non-citizen player must compete regularly on the local ladder, and will have other guidelines to fulfill. You can read the expanded 2016 residency rules in our Requirements blog.

The WCS Circuit strives to create opportunities for highly skilled hometown heroes to experience epic moments on grand stages in front of cheering crowds. The best of these players will advance to the WCS Global Playoffs to test their mettle against the best players brought forth from WCS Korea.

In order to earn points for the WCS Circuit Standings, players travel and compete in tournaments that are part of the WCS Circuit. These include sanctioned WCS Circuit Events and WCS Circuit Championship events. Third-party tournament organizers can apply to be a Blizzard-approved WCS Circuit Event if they meet specific requirements.

WCS Circuit Events

WCS Circuit Events represent a wide range of tournaments from traditional $25,000 tournaments to the $150,000 Championships. Players will travel all over the world to compete in these events, accruing WCS Points and their share of the year’s prize pool. These events are split into two tiers: 5000-point events and 2500-point events. The level of the event is directly tied to the size of the prize pool and the regional requirements.

Each WCS Circuit Event will be an international affair that also highlights the passion of local StarCraft II players. Besides those players who have received paid travel and accommodations by Blizzard, tournament organizers are free to provide their regional spots as they see fit. For more information on the WCS Circuit Event requirements, check out our Requirements blog.

Event Date City WCS Points
DreamHack Zowie Open: Leipzig Jan 22 – Jan 24 Leipzig, Germany 5000
IEM Katowice Mar 2 – Mar 5 Katowice, Poland 11000
Gold Series International Mar 21 – Mar 26 Shanghai China 5000
DreamHack Zowie Open: Austin May 6 – May 8 Austin, Texas 5000
DreamHack Zowie Open: Tours May 14 – May 16 Tours, France 11000
DreamHack Zowie Open: Valencia July 14 – July 16 Valencia, Spain 5000
IEM Shanghai XI July 28 – July 31 Shanghai, China 5000
DreamHack Zowie Open: Montreal Aug 12 – Aug 14 Montreal, Canada 11000
Copa Intercontinental Sept 10 – Sept 11 Mexico City, Mexico 5000
KeSPA Cup Sept 27 – Oct 3 Seoul, Korea 5000



WCS Global Events

WCS Global Events are uniquely epic events that bring together players from the WCS Circuit and WCS Korea to face off outside of the WCS Global Playoffs. These tournaments feature the highest level of StarCraft II play open to players from both standings, and award points that apply to both systems. For more information on the WCS Global Event requirements, check out our Requirements blog.


WCS Global Playoffs and Global Finals

After a full year of competition, the eight qualifying players from WCS Korea and the eight qualifying players from the WCS Circuit are brought together for the WCS Global Playoffs. Here, players will be slotted against each other to earn a seat to compete on the largest StarCraft II stage of the year: the WCS Global Finals. Of the 16 players that enter the Playoffs, the top 8 move on to the Global Finals to compete for first place, $200,000, and title of WCS Global Champion—reserved for the greatest StarCraft II player on earth.

Interested in Organizing a Tournament?

If you’re hosting a StarCraft II event and are interested in awarding WCS Points, we’d love to work with you. Review the tournament requirements here. Fill out the appropriate tournament form to get started:

General Tournament Form | EU Tournament Form

** Note that meeting the requirements listed above does not automatically grant WCS partner status—Blizzard would like to work with you directly to ensure your event fits well into the overall WCS system.

For additional information on the World Championship Series, review our Handbook and Policies, or read the latest News.

Looking for information about a previous year’s tournament?

  1. About WCS 2015
  2. About WCS 2014
  3. About WCS 2013