ESL strengthens Blizzard connection with new Hearthstone partnership


ESL Gaming is already the world’s largest esports company, and the German giant seems inclined to keep growing. Today, the Cologne-based company announced that it has entered into a new two-year partnership with Blizzard Entertainment. ESL will operate the esports ecosystem for Hearthstone.

For the uninitiated, Hearthstone is an online digital collectible card game. It’s rooted in the same lore as Blizzard’s other Warcraft games. (Think Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, and basically anything else with “Warcraft” in its title.)

According to an ESL press release, the partnership “will impact on some of the largest Hearthstone tournaments like the Grandmasters and the Hearthstone Masters Tours”. For the record, this will entail a total prize pool of US$3,000,000 per calendar year. So, yeah. It’s kind of a big deal.

Strengthening the connection

ESL, of course, has an existing relationship with Blizzard. Last month, eCentralSports reported that ESL had revealed its full 2021-22 calendar of StarCraft II and Warcraft III Pro Tour events.

The StarCraft II circuit tour kicks off with the DreamHack StarCraft 2 Masters in May. The tour will conclude at IEM Katowice in February 2022. At that event, players will compete for a US$500,000 grand prize.

The Warcraft III circuit, meanwhile, will start with the DreamHack Warcraft 3 Open: Spring in May. It culminates with the DreamHack Warcraft 3 Championship next December.

“We are delighted to strengthen our relationship with Blizzard through this two year Hearthstone partnership” said Michael Van Driel, Senior Vice President Game Management at ESL Gaming in today’s press release. “Operating the game ecosystem is a great move for ESL and Hearthstone, fans around the world can look forward to an exciting two years ahead.”

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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