World of Warcraft esports prep 15th year with $1.8M prize pool, hope for summer live events


Given that the default MMORPG community reaction toward esports in MMORPGs tends to be a collective eye-roll, you might be surprised to learn that World of Warcraft’s esports ecosystem is turning 15 years old this year. In spite of its still-looming scandal, Blizzard is pushing on into 2022 with plans to “rethink and expand” competitive WoW.

“For 2022, our philosophy is to iterate and improve throughout the year to constantly expand on what makes WoW Esports a community that everyone can be proud to be a part of,” the studio says. “With our planned changes and over $1.8 million (USD) in prizing across all three programs, 2022 is bound to be one of the best years for the competitive scene!”

Blizzard does note that it’s “targeting a return to an in-person event” this summer, though of course whether the pandemic makes that a possibility is still up in the air. In the meantime, the Arena World Championship begins virtually on March 18th, and the initial time trials for the Mythic Dungeon International tourney begin March 30th. And for WoW Classic fans, the Classic Arena Tournament will enter its third season, with signups open through February 9th.

Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial company in the MMO and gaming space owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. Last summer, the company was sued by the state of California for fostering a work environment riddled with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which has further compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees strike and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation.
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