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Heroes of the Storm takes inspiration from League of Legends in 2017 esports plans

Blizzard’s ambitious esports road map includes publisher-funded leagues across the world

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After a rough year for Heroes of the Storm’s esports scene — which included the 2015 world champion team disbanding — Blizzard is taking drastic action with some extremely ambitious plans for next year. And if you’ve played League of Legends before, these plans are likely to look familiar.

Today Blizzard announced that it will form the Heroes Global Championship program. Most notably, the HGC will implement new ongoing leagues for North America, Europe, China and Korea. The top eight teams from each of those regions "will be contracted and guaranteed both compensations and regular competition." Blizzard says this will increase consistency both in team rosters and in the scheduling of matches.

This is very similar to how Riot Games runs its League Championship Series for League of Legends, which includes separate leagues in both North America and Europe. Riot also has leagues set up in China and Korea, though they’re run a little bit differently than the LCS groups.

On top of regular competition within regions, Blizzard’s Heroes Global Championship will include three international events every year pitting the top teams from each region against each other. These international events will also have opportunities from teams outside the main regions — such as those in Taiwan, South East Asia, Latin America and Australia — to compete.

In another element very similar to how League of Legends esports is run, the HGC will implement a promotion and relegation system, where the lowest-ranked teams each season will face off against challengers from a Blizzard-sponsored amateur circuit called the Open Division. This will force teams on the HGC to fight for their spots or be replaced. Heroes Global Championship promotion and relegation events will take place twice a year.

Blizzard says more details on the HGC will be arriving in the next couple of months. Presumably it’ll have more to say at BlizzCon, the weekend of Nov. 4, when the publisher will hold its Heroes of the Storm Fall Championship. Shortly after that event, Blizzard will hold the initial qualifiers for HGC leagues some time in November.

On the League of Legends side of things, Riot released an open letter today discussing the future of esports with the game and plans to implement big changes in the near future.