Following the announcement of the ESL SC2 Masters Winter dates and qualifiers, we are excited to provide more details on what our upcoming season will look like. This blogpost includes the mappool updates, format changes, and co-streaming opportunities.
First of all, We would like to thank everyone who participated in the map and balance tests! We have finalized the mappool for the upcoming Winter season of ESL Masters. Our long-term goal with the StarCraft II esports mappool is to provide more variety in the competitive environment and while we continue investigating the best way to accomplish this, we are thrilled that, for the very first time in ESL Pro Tour history, the mappool consist of 9 maps.
The maps that are used during the Winter season:
- [ESL] Alcyone
- [ESL] Equilibrium
- [ESL] Goldenaura
- [ESL] Hard Lead
- [ESL] Hecate
- [ESL] Oceanborn
- [ESL] Radhuset Station
- [ESL] Site Delta
- [ESL] Solaris
Following the feedback from both progamers and amateur players we have decided to remove Black Lotus from the list provided earlier.
Veto System update
Following the addition of 2 maps into the map pool, the veto order is being updated. The detailed veto process can be found on the ESL Pro Tour Rulebook.
Similar to the Summer season, ESL SC2 Masters Winter will feature online Regionals competitions leading to the Offline Finals. In line with progamers's and community feedback, we have adjusted the tournament format for both stages of the Winter season.
The competition in the online stage is usually very tight and top placement is as important as ever due to the Winners stage advantage in the Offline Finals. Therefore, the Online Regionals will feature a Double Elimination Playoff instead of Single Elimination. This will help address the seeding issues as previously Playoff seeding and bracket drawing arguably had too much influence on players’ results. The number of players in the Playoff will remain the same in all regions: 16 for Europe and 8 for the Americas and Asia.
As part of the evaluation of the Summer season, we looked into the slots assignment for the Online Regionals, and applied the following change. Asia will seed 2 players into the Winners Stage of the offline event. This extra slot is being switched from the Global Standings into the region, leaving only 2 invitations to the former.
Moving to the Offline Finals format, we'd first like to provide an additional context on why we moved away from the previous DreamHack Masters format with three group stages. While we believe that the DH Masters was quite successful in providing a solid competitive environment for the high-level pros and amateurs, it wasn’t as viewer friendly as we would have liked with up to 32 matches running at the same time and a lot of top players and matches missing from the broadcasts.
On an additional note, the Regionals winners didn’t get any real advantage apart from playing much less as most of the top players usually advanced to the third group stage without any losses. This also led to scenarios where the winners of the online stage weren’t properly featured during the Day 1 of the broadcast which disappointed some of their fans.
With the new format, we strongly believe that Regionals winners get a good enough reward for their efforts in the online stage of the competition. Furthermore, fans are now able to follow them in every match during the Offline Finals as every Winners Stage match is broadcasted, either on the main stream or on the B stream. Finally, we would like to highlight that the new Double Elimination Brackets in the Winners Stage are very similar to the older GSL groups approach - just with the guarantee of different opponents for every player instead of a rematch.
Nevertheless, we received some very reasonable concerns from the progamers and community about the lack of chances for the Open Bracket players with only 4 of them being able to advance to the Ro16 and beyond. While a more brutal competition for the Open Stage contestants is natural with this new format, we have adjusted the Knockout Bracket format so that it features three Best of 5 rounds with the first round consisting of 8 Winners Stage 9-16 place finishers vs 8 Open Stage advancers.
After a closed testing of co-streaming for certain ESL SC2 events we are happy to announce that we’re opening this opportunity to all StarCraft II content creators. If you are interested in covering the Winter season Regionals and Offline fFinals as a co-streamer by commentating over the main feed of the ESL stream, please fill out the form via this link and join the party!
As always, we are also open for applications for international coverage via the same link. ESL SC2 Masters Summer was covered in 14 different languages and we’re looking forward to breaking this record during the Winter season.