Press release

7/1/2563

ESL and DreamHack Enters Three-Year Agreement With Blizzard Entertainment

More than US $4.6 million in total prize money will be offered in new ESL Pro Tour formats for StarCraft® II and Warcraft® III: Reforged™ esports​​​​​​​

Cologne, Germany & Irvine, Calif. - Jan. 7, 2020 - ESL and DreamHack, both part of the leading international entertainment group MTG, are today announcing a three-year-long strategic agreement with Blizzard Entertainment. The world’s largest esports company and the premier gaming lifestyle festival organizer will create new ESL Pro Tour formats for both StarCraft® II and Warcraft® III: Reforged™, with Blizzard providing a respective prize pool of over US $1.8 million and over US $200,000 for the first season.

Taking over from the StarCraft II World Championship Series, the new ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II will feature tournaments on a minimum of four different continents with the global finals moving from BlizzCon® to Intel® Extreme Masters Katowice.

Additionally, ESL and DreamHack are building a new competitive platform for Warcraft III: Reforged by introducing the new ESL Pro Tour Warcraft III: Reforged.

After the successful introduction of ESL Pro Tour for CS:GO in September 2019, ESL and DreamHack are proud to announce the second and third games to be incorporated into the global circuit created for players, fans and partners. The competition aims to create a complete path for aspiring players, a compelling story to follow for existing RTS fans, a transparent structure for new esports fans, and viable, high-exposure opportunities for brands and media partners.

The communities of Blizzard Entertainment’s real-time strategy (RTS) games have been going strong for the past 20+ years. Over that time, they have nurtured rivalries, created stars and cemented StarCraft and Warcraft as two of the top global esports.

“We feel extremely honored to establish a new home for RTS esports fans and be responsible for two of the most prestigious esports titles of all time,” said Sebastian Weishaar, CPO at ESL. “ESL and DreamHack are deeply rooted within Blizzard esports games and have built ecosystems around them for years now. Tying both StarCraft II and Warcraft III into the ESL Pro Tour narrative is our contribution to these passionate communities and will provide both titles with a promising platform to continue writing esports history.”

"We are both proud and humbled by the fact that Blizzard has chosen DreamHack and ESL to take the lead for competitive StarCraft II and Warcraft III moving forward,” said DreamHack co-CEO, Marcus Lindmark. "This strengthens our joint position as the top tournament organizers in the market with a unique combination of reach and knowledge, and an extensive and successful history. It also provides us with an incredible opportunity to cater to the historical Starcraft II and Warcraft III esports communities, who have played a very important role in the development of modern day esports."

“We are so proud that StarCraft II and Warcraft III are home to two of the most passionate, storied and devoted communities in esports history,” said J. Allen Brack, President of Blizzard Entertainment. “Both ESL and DreamHack have been long-standing partners for our esports, and we want to give our players, talent, content creators and fans the stability inherent in a long-term relationship, keeping these communities thriving for years to come.”

“This deal is a great step forward for StarCraft II esports and creates an exciting new esports scene around Warcraft III: Reforged,” said Pete Vlastelica, President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports. “We’re deeply committed to bringing the best in competitive entertainment to fans and players around the world, and we’re thrilled to expand our collaboration with ESL and DreamHack in support of that effort.”

The ranking and qualifying format for the ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II is based on the proven model of Blizzard’s existing WCS system. The first season of the StarCraft II tour comprises seven tournaments in total, including both Katowice 2020 and Katowice 2021 to allow new players to make their way to the top. Two IEM competitions and four DreamHack tournaments will lead up to the Masters Championship at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2021.

Warcraft III: Reforged esports will consist of one ESL competition and three DreamHack tournaments, culminating in a Championship tournament in 2020. In addition to both ESL Pro Tours, weekly ESL Open Cups will be held for the wider amateur and grassroots community.

For more information on the circuit tournaments format please visit the official ESL website for StarCraft II and Warcraft III, as well as the StarCraft II esports site for more information on the closing of WCS. Follow ESL on Twitter (StarCraft II / Warcraft III: Reforged) and on Facebook (StarCraft II / Warcraft III: Reforged). To learn more about the games, check out the official sites for StarCraft II and Warcraft III: Reforged.

ESL is the world’s largest esports company. Founded in 2000, ESL has been shaping the industry across the most popular video games with numerous online and offline esports competitions. The company operates high profile, branded international leagues and tournaments under the ESL Pro Tour including ESL One, Intel® Extreme Masters, ESL Pro League, and other premier stadium-size tournaments, to more clearly define the path from zero to hero. ESL also produces the ESL National Championships, grassroots amateur cups, and matchmaking systems, creating a world where everybody can be somebody. With offices all over the world, ESL is leading esports innovation on a global scale through the combination of global ESL competitions, amateur leagues, publisher activations, and more. ESL is a part of MTG, the leading international digital entertainment group. about.eslgaming.com

DreamHack is all about entertainment for the digital generation. Founded in 1994 as a BYOC LAN party, DreamHack grew over 20 years to a global phenomenon as the digital festival for today’s youth, hosted throughout Europe and North America. DreamHack festivals feature multiple esports competitions, live music, exhibitions, creative competitions, LAN party, cosplay and much more. DreamHack helped pioneer esports and continues to be one of the largest global producers of esports content. Millions of viewers tune in from all over the world to watch DreamHack broadcasts every year. DreamHack events welcomed over 310,000 visitors in 2018. More information is available at dreamhack.com. DreamHack is part of leading international digital entertainment group MTG. More information at mtg.com.

About MTG AB  

MTG (Modern Times Group MTG AB (publ.)) (www.mtg.com) is a strategic and operational investment holding company in esports and gaming entertainment. Born in Sweden, the shares are listed on Nasdaq Stockholm (‘MTGA’ and ‘MTGB’).

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Overwatch®, Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® franchises, and the multifranchise Heroes of the Storm®, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment’s track record includes twenty-two #1 games* and numerous Game of the Year awards. The company's online gaming service, Battle.net®, is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active players.

About Activision Blizzard Esports

Activision Blizzard Esports (ABE) is responsible for the development, operation, and commercialization of Activision Blizzard’s professional gaming properties including the Overwatch League™, the Call of Duty® League™, Call of Duty Challengers™, Hearthstone® Masters, StarCraft® II esports, Warcraft® III: Reforged™, and the World of Warcraft® Arena World Championship and Mythic Dungeon International, among others. ABE also operates Tespa, the leader in collegiate esports. It is ABE’s vision to be the most innovative, scalable, and valuable developer of global competitive entertainment.

*Sales and/or downloads. Based on internal company records and reports from key distributors.