Professional Hearthstone Feature

Breaking into Professional Hearthstone: Part One

Jan 15, 2017

How do you become a professional Hearthstone player? Climbing the ladder is a good start, but if you want to make the next step, you’ll need to do a lot more. This article series is going to take an in-depth look at what it takes to become a professional Hearthstone player–we hope you enjoy Part One!

Qualifying for Season Playoffs 2017

HC Rank Points

If you watch competitive Hearthstone or read about tournaments, you’ll likely have heard about HC Rank Points. This stands for Hearthstone Competitive Rank Points, and is a measure of a player’s tournament performance. These points are the true key to unlocking tournaments and professional play, as an unknown player. There are two ways to get HC points: Ladder, and Tournament.

Ladder Points

Ladder HC PointsAt the end of each Hearthstone season, points are awarded to the top legend players. The Hearthstone seasons are exactly one month long, resetting on the first of each month. For finishing as the top ranked player on a server, you receive 12 points. Second to tenth receive 10 points, and it decreases from there. The top 200 players all receive at least 2 points, and every player that reaches legend receives 1 point.

Servers are relevant here. There are three servers, North America, Europe, and Asia. There is also a fourth region, China, but they have a separate client. If a player manages to reach legend on two different servers, they do not receive double points. Instead, their highest placement is what they receive points for. The points are awarded to the player regardless of what region they themselves compete within. This means that, say, Thijs, who is European, can earn points towards the European cup by placing in high legend on the North American server.

Ladder awards many points and happens every month, it is one of the easiest ways to earn HC points.


The other major way to earn HC points is through tournaments. However, it is not as simple as playing in lots of tournaments, there are restrictions. Tournaments are separated into two groups. Major and Cup. Blizzard makes the distinction between the two themselves. Typically any event run by an esports organization is a Major tournament. Anyone can host Blizzard sanctioned tournaments, however, and most of the online tournaments are considered Cups. A full list, and distinction between the two can be found here.

Cup Tournaments

Cup HC PointsAs stated, Cups are Blizzard sanctioned events that anyone can organize. You merely sign up on their site and follow the proper procedure. Then your event is listed on the schedule linked above, and your event is officially a Hearthstone Cup Tournament. Players do earn points from these cups, but they are not particularly high points, and there are restrictions. If you manage to come first at one of these Cups, you earn 5 HC points. Second earns you 3 points, and it decreases down to 1 point for fifth through eighth.

However, you can only earn points from one Cup tournament per month. You may attend as many Cups as you’d like, but only your highest points will be counted. This means that from Cup Tournaments you can earn a maximum of 5 points per month.

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Major Tournaments

Major Tournament HC PointsThe other type of tournaments are the Major ones, held by large esports organizations. The ones hosted by Blizzard themselves are separate–you can read about them later in the article. The Major tournaments don’t have a cap on them in any way. If you happen to win three or four in a month, you will earn points from all of them–that’s a pretty big step in your progress towards becoming a professional Hearthstone player. The points are triple or more that of what you earn from Cups. The first place winner of a Major tournament will earn 15 HC points. Prizes are also awarded all the way down to sixteenth place, who earns 2 points.

I talked to a Blizzard employee directly regarding this, and he stated that “We think it’s pretty important that interested players have a shot of participating in Majors.” He went on to say that there are rules regarding the practice of invitational tournaments. Two major rules have been put in place to allow the common player a shot:

  1. Players can be invited to Hearthstone Majors and have their spots reserved for the tournament, but they may not receive any special byes. They can be seeded in the same round as other openly registered players.
  2. Minimum Player registration cap: All events must account for a minimum of 128 open-registration players to be able to sign up. If an event organizer reserves spots in the event for specific players, there must still be 128 additional spots open for signups.

The competition will still be incredibly difficult at these events, but you are encouraged to apply for every available Major Tournament. Even if you don’t get any points from them, they are a great source of experience.

Tournament Seasons

The Hearthstone year is broken up into four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall (shocker). At the end of the first three season there are two tournaments, a Season Playoff and a Season Championship. The seasons break the year into four time segments. The first is from November 1st until January 31st, which is the Winter Season. The second is February 1st until April 30th, which is the Spring Season. The Summer Season is May 1st until July 31st. The final season, Fall, does not have a tournament, as it holds the World Championship. It does, however, hold the Last Call distinction, which will be explained in Episode Two. The Fall Season Concludes on October 31st.

The seasons are where the HC points come into play. During each season, you rack up HC points. At the end of each season, your HC points are wiped clean and you start over. At the end of Winter, Spring, and Summer, there is a set of two Seasonal Tournaments. A Playoff for each region, and a global Championship. 72 players are invited to each of them. The 64 players in each region with the highest HC points at the end of the season are invited. This is how you can take your hard earned points and have a shot at fame.

Seasonal Tournaments

As I mentioned, the 64 players who have the most HC points in each region at the end of the Winter, Spring, and Summer seasons will be invited to their region’s Season Playoffs. 8 other players will also earn a place there, which I will discuss in Episode Two. Of these 72 players, the top four advance to the Season Championship. The Season Championship is a global tournament where the top four players from each region’s Playoffs will face off. This creates a 16 player tournament against the winners of each region’s Season Playoff.

The top four players from each Season Championship will progress to the World Championship at the end of the year. The World Championship is the final goal. It comprises of 16 players. 12 of whom are from the Seasonal Tournaments. The other four are from the Last Call segment, which we will explore in Episode Two. Note that although only four players advance from Playoffs to Championship and from Championship to World Championship, there are quite a few HC points awarded, which are used in the following seasons, as well as Last Call. See the chart below for HC points awarded.
Season Championship HC Points

Check back next week for part two of our series about becoming a professional Hearthstone player!

Editor’s Note: Esports Edition was contacted by a Blizzard employee who had noticed small errors in the “Major Tournaments” and “Tournament Seasons” sections, and this article was revised on 01/23/2017 to include these corrections.

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Stephen Draper
Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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