The elite competition of Hearthstone's esports system returns! The second Grandmasters season of the year kicks off in the middle of the formation of a new meta after the launch of Scholomance Academy, starting the eight-week journey for the 48 players. Let's take a look at what to expect from Season 2.
No word of any format changes, so we can expect the competition to play out as during Season 1:
- Three weeks of Swiss rounds, which conclude in top 8 group stages during the weekend.
- Players will gain points based on their performance, and they will be used to divide the players into two Divisions after the Swiss phase.
- Four weeks of Round Robin, during which players will face every other player in their Division.
- The final Playoffs & Relegations weekend to conclude the season.
- Three players from each region will be relegated, while the Playoffs winners will reach World Championship.
The full competition format can be found within the spoiler below.
Weeks 1-3: Swiss into Group Stage
During weeks 1-3, players will compete in matches in a Swiss format on each Wednesday and Thursday to earn placement in the weekend Group Stage. Points from these weekend rounds will be used to determine two Divisions in each region for round-robin weeks. Different gameplay format each week.
- The 16 players in each region will compete against each other off broadcast in 7 Swiss rounds during the week.
- On Thursday, after Swiss play has completed, the field is cut in half based on standings and the Top 8 per region will play in a dual tournament format live on YouTube across Friday and Saturday, with the top-4 finals played out on Sunday.
- Gameplay format changes every week:
- Week 1: Conquest with 1 Ban
- Week 2: Four Deck Last Hero Standing with 1 Ban
- Week 3: Ten Deck Conquest with 6 Bans
Weeks 4 - 7: Round Robin
Weeks 4 –7 will consist of round-robin group play within the two divisions in each region—much like the previous seasons of Grandmasters.
- Following weeks 1-3, players will be sorted into two divisions based on their points standings. Division A is comprised of the top-8 point-earning players, and Division B will be point total ranks 9-16.
- The two divisions compete in round-robin group play over four weeks. The standings at the of conclusion of these weeks will determine who will go on to compete in Playoffs, and who will be relegated from Season 1.
- The format will stay consistent during round-robin weeks:
- Bo5 Conquest (4 decks, 1 ban)
Week 8: Season 1 Playoffs
Round-robin weeks lead into Week 8 Playoffs, which will qualify one player per region to the World Championship at the end of the year, while three players from each region will be relegated.
- Top 6 from Division A automatically make it into Playoffs.
- Top 4 from Division B compete in a play-in round to determine who will join the top 6 from Division A in a dual tournament bracket for Playoffs.
- The 7th- and 8th-placed players in Division B at the close of round robin are automatically relegated from Season 1 of Grandmasters.
- Final relegation will be determined via a 3-match Play-In involving the 7th- and 8th-placed from Division A, and 5th- and 6th-placed from Division B.
- The winner of Playoffs from each region will qualify to the Hearthstone World Championships later this year.
In case you've forgotten what happened at the end of Season 1, here's a quick reminder of the changes in player lineups.
Australia and Philippines lost their sole competitors in FroStee and Staz, respectively, while Thailand got their first Grandmaster in the relatively unknown Bankyugi. While Taiwan lost SamuelTsao, they also got two new competitors in Alan870806 and TIZS.
Season 1 had no respect towards past champions as both Pavel and Hunterace were shown the door, and Kolento wasn't one of the smaller names either. These very familiar faces were replaced by the French trio xBlyzes, Warma, and AyRoK, the first of whom has been in impressive form during the whole year. As a fun fact, all promoted players in Europe so far have been French (5 out of 5).
Americas suffered from the curse of the letter P, as all players with a name starting with it got relegated (PapaJason, PNC, and Purple). Additionally, Gallon stepped down from competitive Hearthstone as he joined the Hearthstone dev team. NoHandsGamer, Briarthorn (previously known as brimful), and Rami94 filled the void left behind by the relegated trio, while killinallday inherited Gallon's spot.
Will Asia-Pacific's two-horse race get a third challenger?
Season 1 quickly turned into a Japan vs South Korea series, as the countries manned 7 of the 8 Division A spots early on. Taiwan's top two players were able to reach Playoffs via Division B, but the top 4 spots were still claimed by Japan and South Korea. Will the two Taiwanese newcomers be able to shift the balance of power in the region?
Will xBlyzes be able to live up to the expectations?
After his back to back Masters Tour victories, the expectations towards this still relatively unknown Frenchman rose quite steeply. However, Grandmasters is quite different environment compared to the Tour events. Will he be able to keep the same high level of gameplay or falter in his first steps in the elite competition?
Is this the Year of killinallday?
Always has been.
Meme-ing aside, he will be the player with the most and the least to prove. As he only got the spot after Gallon stepped down, while also being the only one of the overall 10 newcomers who didn't reach top 8 in Masters Tours, he might feel an additional need of proving himself. Simultaneously, he's also the only newcomer that has been in the World Championship before (if we don't include Briarthorn's Wild Open Finals spot). Will he find himself at the top end of the pack like the previously promoted languagehacker and Empanizado did, or will he share PapaJason's fate as the instantly relegated "additionally promoted players"?
Hearthstone Grandmasters Season 2 will begin on August 12th, with Youtube streams starting on August 14th.