Blizzard announces StarCraft II World Championship Series plans for 2017

Hyun "ByuN" Woo, a Terran player from South Korea, accepts his StarCraft World Championship trophy in the StarCraft II Arena after his win over Dark. Brinson+Banks for ESPN

Blizzard Entertainment unveiled its plans for the 2017 StarCraft II World Championship Series on its website earlier Friday, introducing changes to the format and new events for the season. It will be collaborating with AfreecaTV's famed Global StarCraft II League (GSL) for WCS South Korea, DreamHack in the non-South Korean WCS Circuit and ESL for WCS South Korea and a major global event. As in 2016, the WCS Global Championship at BlizzCon will host eight players from South Korea and eight players from the WCS Circuit.

DreamHack is set to hold four events throughout the year for the WCS Circuit in Jönkoping, Sweden; Valencia, Spain; Montreal, Canada; and Austin, USA. The winners of those tournaments receive a direct invitation to BlizzCon and the remaining contestants receive circuit points. The four highest ranking players across the circuit (with points earned through DreamHack or regional Challenger events to be held online) will follow the four DreamHack winners to the 2017 Global Finals. The WCS Circuit is still residency-locked.

As for South Korea, the first qualifying event will be Intel Extreme Masters Gyeonggi on Dec. 16-18. In addition, AfreecaTV will produce three seasons of the GSL in 2017, with weekend tournaments in-between seasons. Contestants may earn a ticket to BlizzCon through clinching a GSL championship or through WCS Korea point standings for a total of eight players. South Korea's StarCraft II StarLeague (SSL), which hosted two qualifying seasons in 2016, will not be involved in WCS in 2017. WCS Korea will once again be free of residency requirements.

In addition, players from across all regions may compete in global events before BlizzCon: a "GSL vs. The World" All-Star Event and Intel Extreme Masters Katowice. The winner of IEM Katowice earns an invitation to the Global Finals at BlizzCon, taking a spot from their home WCS region.

The company has also announced that a portion of the proceeds earned from an in-game purchasable "War Chest" would increase the prize pool, currently set at $2 million overall, in a similar note to Valve's Dota 2 compendiums and League of Legends in-game item sales for Worlds 2016.