After player feedback, the StarCraft II WCS Spring is receiving some changes. WCS Spring will now include a knockout bracket. The tournament will still include three group stages but now will include a lower knockout bracket. The lower bracket consists of players who have been knocked out in the group stages. The knockout bracket has six rounds, five of which are best-of-3, and the final round being a best-of-5. There are big changes to the schedule too.
A more forgiving format
#WCS Spring is about to bloom! 🌷
StarLadder has provided the list so far of players participating and more details about the format changes.
— StarCraft Esports (@esportstarcraft) April 26, 2019
This is a great change particularly for breakout players to gain more exposure through multiple rounds even if they land in a group full of veterans. Vice versa, veterans of the StarCraft scene will have multiple chances to grind through the bracket to make it to playoffs. The playoffs will have 16 players from the group stages as well as eight players from the knockout bracket. The full player list will be announced the second week of May.
However, no one said these changes made things less confusing, and there are already some complaints going around. An example comes from Kwanghee “SaintSnorlax” Woo, an editor of Teamliquid.net:
— Kwanghee Woo (@SaintSnorlax) April 26, 2019
Returning to the arena
Following up on their announcement for WCS Spring, Blizzard has laid out the plans for WCS Finals at BlizzCon. The past few years of WCS have seen a number of changes. Many of the changes are adjustments to the format of the circuit tournaments as well as region participation rules. However, this will be one of the first changes to the WCS Finals format in a number of years.
One of the more exciting announcements is that the StarCraft II finals will be taking place in the arena. The hardcore StarCraft fans were quite vocal about their disappointment of StarCraft leaving the arena in the past; they felt the arena had been earned by the game being one of the first breakout esports in the early 2010s.
We can't wait to see you at BlizzCon 2019 for the WCS Global Finals! 🙌
Here are some more details about what it will look like this year: https://t.co/9leZcXRUlY
— StarCraft Esports (@esportstarcraft) April 25, 2019
The move back to the arena is welcomed back with open arms but comes with a bit of trade-off. The schedule has now been shifted to have the Round of 8 and beyond all played on the same day, Day One of BlizzCon — including the finals. Blizzard also has made it clear that the Opening Week, which includes the top 16, will not take place in the arena. They will announce more details about the location of Opening Week at a later date.
Some fans and critics fear that this may degrade the quality of games. Others think this favors players who are better at weekend tournaments versus preparation, something that many esports struggle to find a balance with. Despite the crunching of the schedule and fears of reduced quality, the StarCraft community will be grateful to be a centerpiece at BlizzCon once again.