The elite competition of Hearthstone's esports system returns! The second Grandmasters season kicks off right after the arrival of United in Stormwind, starting the eight-week journey for the 48 players. Let's take a look at what to expect from Season 2.
Blizzard has announced that Specialist format would not be making a return for Season 2, and instead Conquest and Last Hero Standing will be taking turns as the weekly format. Otherwise, every week will continue similarly to last season:
- Best-of-five matches.
- 4 Dual Elimination groups with top 2 players advancing (only Decider matches streamed on Fridays).
- Top 8 play through a single-elimination bracket to decide the winner.
The full competition format can be found within the spoiler below.
Note that the section discussing gameplay format is no longer accurate. Weeks 2, 4, and 6 will be played using Last Hero Standing and every other week will use Conquest.
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 Season 1, here's a quick reminder of the changes in player lineups.
Tom60229, the last man standing of the pre-GM World Champions, faced the elimination last season alongside the newcomer Hi3 and the veteran Tyler. Lambyseries got relegated but instantly re-promoted based on his Masters Tour points, and joining him are the Japanese trahison and okasinnsuke, as well as the Korean grr who beat his compatriot Flurry by tiebreakers for the GM spot. As an additional mention, Alan870806 has shortened his nickname to AlanC86.
It was not the Frenchmen's season as their numbers were cut to half at the end of the season with the departures of Swidz, AyRoK, and Zhym. But as the short history of the competition has shown, there must always be a French king player getting promoted and the teenager Gaby did it in a dominant fashion as well. Bunnyhoppor did the same "relegated-but-not-really" trick than lambyseries, and J4YOU and Floki rounded up the promoted players' list, with the latter becoming the first Belgian Grandmaster.
Americas got a player kicked out before the Season even started so only three actual relegations took place. The unfortunate having to leave the competition behind were Briarthorn and the newcomers Tincho and Impact. The promotions of CaelesLuna and McBanterFace were quite clear, while Eggowaffle and DimitriKazov emerged victorious from a huge tiebreaker fiesta to claim their spots.
In case you did not know it yet, Blizzard added a controversial new rule for the competition at the beginning of this year: if the winner of Season 1 gets relegated on Season 2, their spot in the World Championships will be passed to the runner-up (and so forth, if the player in question also got relegated). In past iterations of the competition this would've already happened twice, as Feno and SilverName both went through the highs and lows on successive years. As Blizzard also added a fourth relegation spot for this year's competition, the danger is even more evident and posesi, Frenetic, and Nalguidan will have to be extra careful not to mess up their shot at the ultimate prize.
And for those wondering if we'll get packs for watching the YouTube streams, the initial announcement did mention drops for Season 2 as well, but no further announcements have been made so far. It would seem likely that the pack reward structure would follow the one we had last season with the expansion packs changing from Barrens to Stormwind:
- Grandmasters Week 1: Year of the Phoenix (max 2 packs)
- Grandmasters Weeks 2 - 7: Year of the Phoenix (max 2 packs)
- Grandmasters Playoffs: Forged in the Barrens (max 2 packs)
Hearthstone Grandmasters Season 2 will begin on August 12th, with Youtube streams starting the day after on August 13th.