The last Hearthstone Championship Tour finals gets underway today, with four of the last spots in the next World Championship up for grabs.
Four regions will be represented by four players each at the Summer Championship. While one player will claim the championship in California and take a $60,000 first prize, arguably reaching the final four will be even more important. Those players will qualify for the $1 million World Championship.
Breaking with tradition, the next World Championship will not be held at November’s Blizzcon. Instead it will be held in early 2018, closer to the game’s next annual card rotation.
The field for the Championship is stacked. Reigning world champion Pavel Beltukov will be looking to make back-to-back Worlds, after coming up short in the Winter season. China’s Jason Zhou, who lost to Pavel in the semifinals at last year’s Worlds, is also getting another shot after failing to reach the top four in the Spring season.
They aren’t the only players looking to reach a second World Championship. Chen “tom60229” Wei Lin of Taiwan competed in the inaugural Worlds in 2014, while Ryan “Purple” Murphy-Root suffered a disappointing group stage exit in 2015.
Also in the field, and competing at his first HCT championship, is Jon “Orange” Westberg. The Swede is one of the most successful players in the game’s history, with four major titles to his name since 2015.
Europe and North America have dominated the Worlds qualification so far. Europe took three of the spots last season with Spring champion Frederik “Hoej” Nielsen, Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh, and Eugene “Neirea” Shumilin qualifying alongside America’s Anthony “Ant” Trevino. Just one European, Aleksey “ShtanUdachi” Barsukov, qualified from the Winter season—but he won the whole thing. Frank “Fr0zen” Zhang and “DocPwn” increased North America’s representation, while “SamuelTsao” is currently the only player from either APAC or China taking part.
China’s failure to qualify has been a major surprise this year, especially in front of their home fans in Shanghai last season.
The 12 seasonal qualifiers will be joined by the top HCT points earner from each region across the whole year.
The tournament gets underway today at 10:30am Central, and will wrap up on Sunday