Hearthstone's elite competition is returning from a half-a-year hiatus this weekend, and the 48 competitors have been brewing their lineups in the relatively fresh Barrens meta. Let's take a look at what we can expect from the upcoming Grandmasters season.
The competition format has seen some big changes! Previously, the first three weeks had an off-stream Swiss portion, which then continued into two dual elimination groups in the weekend. Based on the players' performance during those three weeks, they were divided into Division A and B. But that's all gone now.
In 2021, all seven weeks will have a similar format: each region will have four dual elimination groups, which will be played mostly off-stream. The decider matches will be streamed on Friday and a top 8 single elimination bracket during Saturday and Sunday. Similarly to the three Swiss weeks in previous Seasons, the format will rotate during this phase:
- Weeks 1-2: Conquest
- Weeks 3-4: Specialist
- Weeks 5-6: Last Hero Standing
- Week 7 and Playoffs: Conquest
After each week, the players will gain points based on their performance as follows:
- Winner: 5p
- Runner-up: 4p
- 3rd-4th: 3p
- 5th-8th: 2p
- 9th-12th: 1p
- 13th-16th: 0p
The Playoffs and relegations have also been simplified in this new system. No more pre-Playoffs or relegation run-ins, as top 8 points earners in each region will gain a spot in the Playoffs while the bottom 4 will be automatically relegated.
Overall, the Grandmasters will be playing a lot less Hearthstone than in the previous system, and every match will matter a lot more.
Weeks 1-7: Weekly Dual Tournaments
During weeks 1-7, players will compete in a Weekly Dual Tournament format, starting each Thursday, to earn placement in the weekend Top 8 Stage. Players will receive points based on total number of wins each week, which will determine final standings before Playoffs.
- All 16 players in each region will compete against each other off-broadcast in Dual Tournament Group play on Thursday.
- On Friday, the 4 Decider Matches will be played to determine who joins the Top 8 per region, live on YouTube.
- The Top 8 players compete in a single-elimination tournament on Saturday, with the Top 4 advancing to Sunday.
- Gameplay format changes every other week:
- Week 1: Conquest
- Week 2: Conquest
- Week 3: Specialist
- Week 4: Specialist
- Week 5: Last Hero Standing
- Week 6: Last Hero Standing
- Week 7: Conquest
Week 8: Playoffs
The Dual Tournaments lead into Week 8 Playoffs, which will qualify one player per region to receive an invite to the World Championship at the end of the year, while four players from each region will be relegated.
- Top 8 players advance to Playoffs.
- Players 9 – 12 are safe from Relegation but are finished with tournament play for the season.
- Bottom 4 players in each region are automatically Relegated.
- The winner of Playoffs from each region are given a chance to compete in the 2021 World Championship. Season 1 champions retain their invites to the World Championship if they are not Relegated in Season 2. Relegated Champions have their invites passed down to the next eligible player, in their region, from Season 1.
In case you've forgotten what happened at the end of last year's Season 2, here's a quick reminder of the changes in player lineups.
Some additional explanation might be needed here: Warma got relegated after relegation run-in but his earnings (the same earnings that got him promoted) were enough to re-promote him.
Americas had four spots open due to ETC leaving after last season. While Justsaiyan got relegated, his earnings were enough to re-promote him but as he announced his retirement last week, the fourth spot re-opened. Initially, Blizzard granted the spot to a wrong player after miscounting the earnings but they were promptly informed of their mistake by the esports community, and the vacant slot found its way to Tincho.
The competition will continue to be streamed only on Youtube, but minor changes to broadcast times can be expected as there will be less Hearthstone being played in the regular season. However, in case you missed the announcement, there will be one big change for this year: pack drops are returning! You can visit our dedicated post for full details, but here's a quick reminder of when and how much you can earn:
- Week 1 (this week!): Two Year of the Phoenix Packs for 4 cumulative hours (1 pack after 2 hours).
- Weeks 2-7: Two Year of the Phoenix Packs in total for 4 cumulative hours.
- Playoffs: Two Forged in the Barrens Packs for 4 cumulative hours.
Additionally, the drops will be live during the five remaining Masters Tour events, as well as this year's World Championship. That's a lot more packs than last year! Just remember to link your Youtube account to your battle.net and be logged in while watching to earn the freebies.
The Grandmasters 2021 action begins on April 9th, stay tuned for our dedicated survival guide!