Blizzard has successfully made Hearthstone esports more watchable.
The changes, which consist of moving most of Hearthstone’s competitive events to an online-only platform, introducing a three-tier competitive system, and augmenting the US$4 million prize pool with a crowdfunding mechanism, have seen increased numbers in the form of 1.5 million watched hours, with average concurrent viewers peaking at 65,000 for the final live session of the Las Vegas leg of the Masters Tour, reported The Esports Observer.
Blizzard introduced the changes right after the Hearthstone World Championship ended in April earlier this year. While Hearthstone was the most watched online card game last year, it was seeing a sharp decline in viewership numbers.
The new three-tier competitive format will feature online-only open qualifiers called the Masters Qualifiers, with winners gaining entry to the regional Masters Tour, a series of large-scale in-person tournaments. Winners on this tier will then get to compete in the Hearthstone Grandmasters. The last two will also be