Pro esports players criticize Blizzard for sticking gamers with the whole WoW Arena World Champs prize pool


World of Warcraft players gearing up for the Arena World Championships and the Mythic Dungeon Invitational will have a bigger prize pool than expected, with $660,000 divided between the two events. That’s thanks entirely to other players, who as you’ll recall funded the pot by purchasing a couple of toys in the WoW store, an incident that caused its own uproar at the time (and was subsequently eclipsed a few weeks later by, well, this).

What it is not thanks to, apparently, is Blizzard itself, which has quietly withdrawn its implied contribution to the events. Originally, the studio seemed to have implied that it would front $500,000, guaranteeing that minimum sum, but after the sales surpassed that minimum, Blizzard stepped back from its presumed half-mil deposit, meaning that WoW players are covering the entire pool, and it’s significantly smaller than pro players expected.

Here was the original claim from March: “For a limited time, every purchase of the Transmorpher Beacon or Lion’s Pride and Horde’s Might Fireworks, 25% of the proceeds will contribute toward the year’s finals LAN event prize pool for the Arena World Championship (AWC) and the Mythic Dungeon International (MDI) with a guaranteed minimum prize pool of $500,000 USD ($250,000 USD for each event.) Your support will help take the WoW esports prize pool to the next level.” An earlier statement made by Blizzard on January 17th noted that “[a] portion of the sale of these toys will contribute to the prize pools for both WoW esports programs.” Both led pro players and gamers to believe toy-buyers were “contributing” to Blizzard’s existing pool, not covering the whole thing.

Reports of this are coming in from several quarters, including professional esports players who asked Blizzard about the low prize pool and were told the truth in return.

World of Warcraft YouTuber Bellular walked through this situation step by step, laying out Blizzard’s misleading assurances and its ultimate actions against the backdrop of the rest of the pro esports industry standards:

Regardless of whether you think Blizzard’s move here was underhanded or there was plenty of wiggle room in its original announcement, those folks who were mad about being asked to pay part of the prize pool before are surely even madder knowing they’re paying for it all. And of course, the pro players who thought they’d be making a lot more money than they actually are a bit upset too.

Source: YouTube, Twitter, #2. Updated post-publication for clarity and with the Blizzard quote.
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