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Bigger, better, stronger: the World Championship Series is back with a new tournament format for 2016

Hans Oelschlägel's picture
Hans Oelschlägel
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After a truly memorable year of StarCraft II competition followed by the launch of the much-anticipated Legacy of the Void expansion, the World Championship Series (WCS) is ready to take the next step as the biggest competitive showcase for StarCraft II superstars around the globe. Thanks to a partnership between ESL, DreamHack and Blizzard, we are thrilled to reveal an updated tournament format featuring the all-new WCS Circuit Standings.

Building on an already well-established Korean ecosystem centered around multiple GSL/SSL and individual tournaments, Blizzard is now looking to level up the competition in other regions and scenes around the world. By offering players support to attend multiple events throughout the year, Blizzard is hoping to spark even more memorable moments like those we saw in Season 3 of the WCS in 2015.

In order to get the new system started, Blizzard is planning three WCS Circuit Championship events together with up to eight sponsored WCS circuit events hosted and supported by ESL, DreamHack and other partners who apply. As the name implies, the format will function similarly to the golf and tennis circuits in traditional sports. The WCS Circuit Standings will serve as the evolution of the WCS Premier League and is open to all players based outside Korea. The WCS Circuit Standings will be the counterpart to the WCS Korea Standings, which will include players participating in the GSL and SSL in Korea as well as any who dare challenge Korean players on their own turf.

In addition to the new tournament system this year, Blizzard is raising the base prize pool for the whole competition by more than US$400,000 to over US$2,000,000 in total for 2016. This doesn’t yet include the prize money provided by partners and organizers, and on top of that the WCS global finals (including the global playoffs) at the end of the year will be worth US$500,000 collectively.

In the WCS Circuit Standings, players will have an opportunity to travel from event to event, earning themselves prize money and WCS circuit points. The winners of the three Circuit Championship events will each receive a direct invitation to the WCS global playoffs, with the final five circuit slots going to the players with the most WCS points across the circuit. At the WCS global playoffs, these eight WCS circuit players will be joined by the eight contestants from the WCS Korea Standings, who are made up of the GSL and SSL Season 1 and 2 winners as well as the four highest-standing players in the WCS Korea Standings.

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You can find a detailed point and prize money distribution breakdown on the official WCS website.

ESL is proud to continue to support StarCraft II alongside Blizzard and their partners. We are looking forward to seeing the new tournament system in action and can’t wait to bring the WCS to even more fans and venues than ever before in 2016!

Be sure to follow the official ESL accounts on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the latest StarCraft II news.