Hearthstone players will finally have access to a tournament mode… but only in China.
The feature is being developed by NetEase, a Chinese internet company that operates local versions of several Blizzard titles such as World of Warcraft and Hearthstone. Reddit user czhihong broke the news and translated the original blogpost detailing how the mode will function.
First, players must install a secondary app which allows them to watch replays and view past tournament results. Next, players can log in with the add-on app open, which allows for tournament play. The first tournament, held this weekend, will be a best-of-three in the Last Hero Standing format using the standard card set. The format supports 5,000 players on a first come, first serve basis, and each player will play up to 15 rounds over the three-day period. Decks can be changed between rounds, but not during a round. Cards that generate pre-built decks, like Zayle, Shadow Cloak and Whizbang the Wonderful, cannot be used. Players who perform well will be rewarded with Battlenet points, a form of digital currency in China that can be redeemed for digital goods in several Blizzard titles.
Czhihong says there are plans to support the Wild format in the future, as well as increase the scope beyond 5,000 players. Matchmaking will be automated, and will pair players with similar records.
Players in the U.S. have wanted a tournament mode for years, but it is unknown at this point if Blizzard has any plans for one. The last time Blizzard spoke about it, they said it was "on hold." Instead, Blizzard said they wanted to focus on the game's "overall social experience." Previously, Blizzard had announced a tournament mode during the Year of the Raven, in 2018.
This isn't the first time players in China have had access to exclusive features. The previously released "Hearthstone Official Companion App" gave Chinese players access to a replay mode, brief guidelines on playing certain decks, and a deck tracker. It also included a deck recommendation tool, which also informs players how many cards they are missing from popular decks and how much dust would be needed to craft them.
With Saviors of Uldum recently released and a new solo adventure on its way, Hearthstone players in other parts of the world have plenty to keep themselves busy with, even without a tournament mode.