World of Warcraft raked in over $1 billion in revenue last year. Now the game’s developer, Blizzard Entertainment, is giving some of that back in the form of prize money. The company will offer a $250,000 prize pool at its annual conference, BlizzCon. The eight best three-versus-three World of Warcraft arena teams will compete in Anaheim on Nov. 7-8 for their share of the pot.
The top two teams from North America and two from Europe will join four from the Asia region in Anaheim. Regional qualifiers in China, Korea, and Taiwan will determine the Asian participants, while online competition will decide the rest.
Any 3-v3 arena team with a rating of 2500 or higher by Aug. 25 will be eligible for the online qualifiers in North America and Europe. Teams will be able to apply for the qualifier after the cut-off date.
The format mirrors last year’s BlizzCon competition, where American team Skill-Capped, featuring veteran arena players Alex “Sodah” Ringe and Rodney “Talbadar” Pare, took the top prize and the largest share of $180,000.
World of Warcraft has long history as an esport, and was a staple of large tournaments in the middle of the last decade. Its constantly changing game systems, with features overhauled in every new expansion, presented a unique challenge for the game’s esports status. The majority of competition with the launch of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion in 2008, which lacked support for third party tournaments.
The BlizzCon tournament could be a prelude to a World of Warcraft esports comeback. The upcoming release of Warlords of Draenor, the next edition of the massive MMORPG, promises to offer the ability to host third-party tournaments complete with spectator capability, something sorely lacking from previous versions of the game.
That may be a longshot, but it’s safe to say the competition at Blizzcon will be fierce. The $250,000 prize will make Blizzcon one of the top 25 esports tournaments ever.