ESL and DreamHack Take Over StarCraft and Warcraft Esports in Three-Year Deal
- Modern Times Group (MTG) companies ESL and DreamHack will manage the top StarCraft II and Warcraft III esports events over the next three years.
- Each game will have its own ESL Pro Tour circuit, with StarCraft II’s global finals to move from BlizzCon to Intel Extreme Masters Katowice.
- Publisher Blizzard Entertainment will provide prize pools of $1.8M USD for StarCraft II and $200K for Warcraft III’s respective first seasons.
The top tournaments for two of esports’ oldest titles, StarCraft II (SC2) and Warcraft III (W3), will be run by both ESL and DreamHack for the next three years. The two MTG companies will run ESL Pro Tour circuits for both games, with publisher Blizzard Entertainment to provide a respective $1.8M USD for SC2 and $200K prize pools for W3’s first seasons. Other financial terms were not disclosed.
The ESL Pro Tour will replace the existing SC2 World Championship Series (WCS), and will feature seven tournaments across a “minimum of four different continents.” The global finals will also move from the BlizzCon convention to the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice event in 2021, where SC2 has already been a leading title for several years.
ESL and DreamHack will create an entirely new competitive format for Warcraft III: Reforged—a remastered edition of the original 2003 game, to be released on Jan. 28, 2020. The first season will feature one ESL competition and three from DreamHack, leading to a championship tournament in 2020.
These two real-time strategy (RTS) games from Blizzard Entertainment were among the first video games to bring their competitive scene before live audiences—both predating the term “esports.” Both have evolved past their peak popularity, with Activision Blizzard Esports now primarily focused on its Overwatch League (OWL) and Call of Duty League (CDL) properties.
The ESL Pro Tour brand was first revealed in September 2019, initially as a consolidated circuit for both ESL and DreamHack’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments. Both companies belong to the portfolio of MTG, a Swedish media firm that reported a 12% growth to kr415M ($42.6M) in net esports sales for Q3 2019.
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