Q: What are the changes you’ve made to WCS 2014 and how do they improve the system?
- A more linear schedule
In 2014, WCS will feature a more linear schedule and simple structure that’s easier to understand and should allow more open space in the calendar for StarCraft II eSports competition that lies outside of regular WCS league play
- Partial region lock
In response to feedback, we’ve set up a system where a large number of qualifier spots in Europe and America are reserved for residents of those regions.
- GSL is back
Korea will be operated by GomTV under the GSL moniker, and will feature increased prize money for the most competitive region.
- More WCS Global Events
We will work more proactively with partners to set up a wider range and better geographic distribution of WCS Global Events that award ranking points. This should create additional competition opportunities for players
- More emphasis on regional play with additional points and prize money for Premier League players
By removing Season Finals events, we can better reward and recognize players for accomplishments in Premier League play.
Q. How does the Ladder Wildcard qualifier work?
Players must be ranked in master league and have at least 200 ladder wins on the home region ladder (American server for WCS America, Europe server for WCS Europe) in the season leading up to the ladder wildcard deadline. Players must use their registered ladder account that includes a name similar to their official player handle (no barcodes or smurfs). Specific details about all qualifier formats, deadlines, and signup pages will be released by NASL and ESL.
Q. You created a partial region lock. Why not a full region lock?
While we do want to make sure there are fair opportunities for players to compete in their home regions, we still want to ensure that the WCS system is working to bring top level competition to viewers and identify the world’s best StarCraft II players through the global ranking system. WCS as of 2013 was not intended, nor designed to be an Olympic style competition that completely isolates regional players from each other before having them compete on the global stage. We explored the Olympic style system in 2012, and for the most part, the regional events received low global viewership or little support.
We think the partial region lock will be a good compromise that helps open up more chances for local players while not overly diluting the level of competition.
Q. In light of the partial region lock for America and Europe, what happens to the existing Korean and European players in Premier and Challenger?
The existing non-resident players in WCS America and WCS Europe Premier and Challenger leagues can stay in the region for 2014. Their status is guaranteed so long as they remain at the Premier/Challenger level. Once any non-resident players drop out, they must re-qualify through the designated WCS 2014 Qualifier slots.
Q. Can players switch between WCS regions?
Players can only compete in one region at a time. If a player wishes to switch, they may declare a new region after being eliminated or at the end of a season. Any player that switches to a different region will be required to qualify through the designated WCS 2014 Qualifier slots.
Q. What are the designated WCS Qualifier Slots?
In 2014, qualifier slots are reserved for citizens and legal residents of the home regions for both WCS America and WCS Europe. Since America has become the home WCS region for players from countries such as China, Australia, and Taiwan, we will reserve qualifier spots for players from those specific regions as well as the Americas. Ladder wildcard slots will have open enrollment with no citizenship or residency restriction, but still have a master’s level requirement with a minimum number of ladder wins within that regional server. Master’s level will also be required across all qualifiers.
Q. What are the requirements for a player who wants to compete in a specific country or region’s Qualifiers?
If a player would like to compete in a Qualifier for a specific country or region, that player must be either a citizen, be a permanent resident (Green Card) or have a valid, non-visitor visa for a country in that region which would allow them to compete in the Qualifier.
Q. What is the deadline for a player who wants to transfer to a different region for Season 1 2014?
If a player wants to transfer from an existing region to a new one, he/she must declare the region transfer to Blizzard by December 15, 2013 and will be required to qualify into the new region through the designated WCS 2014 Qualifier slots.
Q. Why does GSL (Korea) get more overall prize money and a much higher top end prize than America and Europe?
The overall prize pool in Korea is higher than America and Europe as an acknowledgment of the higher level of competition in the region. The top heavy distribution was something requested by GSL as well as other Korean influencers, as a regional preference.
The America and Europe prize pools feature a more even distribution from top to bottom in order to better recognize the achievement of all players who make it into Premier League.
Q. Will the Global Finals take place at BlizzCon again?
There will be a live Global Finals event for the WCS in 2014. We have not made any announcements about the next BlizzCon.
Q. In 2013 there was a lot of broadcasted WCS content within very compressed time periods. Some in the community felt the volume of WCS content squeezed out opportunities for third-party tournaments to take place. How will the 2014 system fix this?
We plan to focus primary attention on broadcasting Premier League content and keeping those broadcasts to two days a week during each season. That leaves three weekdays open plus the weekends during WCS Premier League play for other third-party competitions to take place. Also, with more time over the year to stretch out three seasons of WCS, there will be multi-week-long breaks between Premier League play where other competitions to take place. And without any Season Finals events, more weekends are open over the course of the year.
Q. You said last year there would be four seasons of WCS in 2014. Why are there only 3?
Again, after evaluating what happened in 2013, we felt it was healthier for the ecosystem to not run such a compressed schedule, and allow more breathing room for other StarCraft II tournaments to take place.
Q. Will Round of 32 Premier League be conducted live or online in America and Europe?
This has not been decided yet. We’ll be working with our partners to determine what’s best and we will let you know if there are any changes.
Q. Why are you discontinuing Season Finals?
The reason we’re moving away from them is to put more emphasis on the achievements of players who do well in regional league play. We’re distributing more prize money to the regional leagues in order to compensate for the absence of Season Finals events. Nonetheless, we do hope to work with partners to schedule and showcase a couple of major WCS Global events, which would potentially spotlight top players from each region and give them a place to compete. Stay tuned.
Q: Why does Premier League in Europe and America only force the bottom 16 Premier League players down to Challenger, while GSL in Korea forces the bottom 24 players to defend their Code S spot?
We feel that the simplification of the Qualifier and Challenger process in Europe and America should create plenty of opportunity for new players to get into Premier League. In 2014, a prospective new WCS Europe or WCS America player needs to win a qualifier spot, and then win just a single, best-of-five match in Challenger to jump up into Premier League. Also, in the first season of 2014 in Europe and America, a full 24 qualifiers in each region will have the chance to get into Premier.
Q. Why is OGN no longer operating WCS? Does GomTV now have exclusive WCS rights? Was the decision mutual among all parties?
The 2014 plans were developed through extensive discussion and collaboration with all partners, and with feedback from community figures. While OGN did a great job with producing Starleague, the Season 1 Finals, and the Korean language version of the WCS Global Finals stream at BlizzCon, we decided that the switch off between GomTV and OGN from season to season in Korea was confusing and redundant in many cases.
OGN remains a great partner for Blizzard and will move forward with producing broadcast content related to Hearthstone. They also retain the right to run both StarCraft and StarCraft II content. While nothing is currently planned, it is possible they could run a WCS Global Event if it meets the criteria laid out and they obtain a license for such an event.
As for GomTV, their involvement with WCS is not an “exclusive” deal, but we believe the consistent broadcast for all three seasons in Korea will be beneficial for fans.
Q. Will KeSPA players continue to participate in WCS 2014?
WCS is open for all players who wish to compete. We believe every player should have the right to decide how and where they participate in StarCraft II eSports. We look forward to seeing continued participation from KeSPA players in WCS 2014.