Hearthstone groups are drawn for Intel Extreme Masters Shenzhen

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Hearthstone debuted at the Intel Extreme Masters Season 8 World Championship in Katowice with a small four-man tournament. Coming into the ninth season, however, the stakes have been raised, with a US$10,000 prize pool now up for grabs!

The groups have been drawn, and with a mix of familiar faces and lesser-known players, it will be fascinating to see how the group stages pan out.

The group stages will be dual-tournament groups of four, and the matches will be best of three. The top two players from each group will advance on to stage two of the tournament, which will be a single elimination best-of-five bracket. All players will prepare four decks for the tournament and in both stages of the tournament their opponent will be allowed to veto one deck for their match. The winner of a game will play the same deck in the next game, and the loser will change their deck.

In League of Legends, StarCraft II and Dota 2, there has always been a strong feeling of East vs. West, mainly because it seems that the East always prevails. This, however, has not been the case so far in Hearthstone. has organized two online tournaments, EU vs. CN Masters and NA vs. CN Masters, and China has lost in both of them. DreamHack has hosted back-to-back Hearthstone tournaments, but with the exception of Amaz, Asian players are largely absent. There is a sense of mystery surrounding the Asian players coming into Shenzhen - who knows what kind of decks we will see?

Tune into Intel Extreme Masters Shenzhen at 03:30 CEST, where Dan "Frodan" Chou will be bringing you all the awesome Hearthstone action!