Higher-definition broadcasts, a new ownership structure, and format tweaks lead next year’s changes.
The first year of Heroes Global Championship (HGC) play exceeded expectations, with more stability for pro players and strong growth in viewership—and, for 2018, fans can expect even more of a good thing, as the HGC prepares to offer an enhanced viewing experience and a heightened focus on top-tier Heroes of the Storm® competition. Read on below for details of these marquee improvements.
Enhanced Viewing Experience
All HGC matches will be livestreamed at 1080p and 60 frames per second in 2018. In addition to higher-quality video, broadcasts for HGC North America and HGC Europe will be streamed in languages beyond English on Blizzard-owned channels all year long. The full menu of language streams will be revealed closer to the 2018 season kickoff.
Refreshed League Structure
The new season of the HGC begins January 26, 2018, with the first week of league play, when the 32 teams—spread evenly across HGC China, HGC Korea, HGC Europe, and HGC North America—begin their quests for championship glory.
The eight teams in each region will battle for ten weeks in the run-up to the Mid-Season Brawl, pausing after five weeks for the Eastern Clash (Korea and China plus a team from Taiwan) or the Western Clash (Europe and North America). The same sequence repeats over the second half of the year, except teams will be striving for the championship at the HGC Finals. In a twist for 2018, Clash winners will open up an additional spot for another team from their home region at the Mid-Season Brawl or HGC Finals, depending on which half of the year the Clash in question occurs in. (Using L5’s Eastern Clash win in August as an example, the 2017 HGC Finals would have added a fourth team from HGC Korea along with the three that qualified via their placement in the standings and playoffs.)
Outside of the four main HGC regions, teams in Latin America, Australia/New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and Taiwan will now have a dedicated tier of competition that awards a trip to the Mid-Season Brawl and HGC Finals. The Eastern Wild Card, which will include teams from Southeast Asia and Taiwan, and the Western Wild Card, with teams from Latin America and Australia/New Zealand, will each award a berth in the subsequent HGC global event. Qualification for the Eastern and Western Wild Card events will be organized by local partners to best serve the teams in those competitive regions.
For 2018, the HGC will require all 32 teams to identify team ownership that will be responsible for fielding a competitive roster, managing all team operations, and working with the HGC league office, among other functions. With team ownership focused on the administrative aspects of HGC membership, including marketing and league planning, players will be free to put all their attention on the gameplay elements that come with being professional competitors in the HGC.
While sponsorships and branding are still subject to change prior to the start of the new season, the 32 slots for HGC 2018 are set, with familiar names like Mid-Season Brawl winners Fnatic, the first Western Clash winners Team Dignitas, and 2016 Fall Champions Ballistix (formerly known as L5) back in the mix.
Fans can look forward to seeing these teams and more compete at the highest levels of Heroes of the Storm in the new and improved 2018 HGC.
More details on the 2018 season of HGC, including plans for Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Latin America, and Australia/New Zealand, are coming soon.