Plans Announced For 2021 NHL Gaming Championship
It’s been a few years now since the National Hockey League took a significant step forward in not only recognizing the talent of its fans who play the NHL video game, but by also giving them a platform to challenge the best in the world for virtual ice hockey supremacy, much in the same way the best players in the world compete annually to determine a Stanley Cup champion.
For the third year in a row, the NHL Gaming Championship was conducted in 2020 and champions were declared in three regions – Canada (Justin ‘Reg84’ Reguly), the United States (Josh ‘OFs_HK’ Fuss) and Europe (Arttu ‘ArtuzioFIN’ Mustila). Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the planet before the league was able to bring the three regional winners together to compete and determine a world champion.
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NHL Ready Again To Find Its Best iGamer
Undaunted by the unfortunate end to their 2020 competition, the NHL recently announced that it would be going ahead with a 2021 NHL Gaming World Championship competition. Registration for the 2021 tournament began on March 26th.
Xbox and PlayStation gamers saw some exciting changes to the annual event. These included separate tournaments for the European and North American regions and a chance to see the best Chel gamers from Canada and the United States play head-to-head from the start of the competition.
The European and North American tournaments began gameplay on Wednesday, April 7, with the Online Open Play round. After four weeks of qualification, the European tournament will follow the traditional format through the crowning of a European Champion. However, the North American tournament will incorporate a Club Championship model (Club Finals and Club Championship) to encourage rivalries through Divisional play and give gaming fans a chance to represent their favorite NHL Club. All matches beyond the Online Open Play are single-elimination, best-of-three.
With COVID-19 still an issue worldwide, all gameplay for the 2021 NHL Gaming World Championship is being contested remotely.
Gaming fans can watch the action via livestreams on the NHL’s Twitch channel. Fans can follow the conversation using social hashtag #NHLGWC.
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North American Format
To better align with the uniqueness of the 2020-21 NHL Season, the North American tournament will convert to a Club Championship model following Online Open Play.
Throughout the four weeks of Online Open Play, 256 players (128 from each console) will qualify for the Club Finals. Based on weekly Online Open Play standings, players will be assigned to represent 32 Clubs (31 NHL Clubs plus one yet-to-be-named esports-themed Club).
Hockey and gaming fans will have the opportunity to vote for the name of the 32nd Club in a Twitter poll. This Club will become the eighth Club representing the Scotia North Division. More information about the “Scotiabank Fan Vote” will be made available in the coming weeks.
The top player for each console who selects an individual Club as his/her favorite will get the chance to compete wearing their favorite Club’s jersey.
The Club Finals and Club Championship will be aligned under the 2020-21 NHL season Divisions: MassMutual East Division, Scotia North Division, Discover Central Division and Honda West Division. The eight players who represent each NHL Club will face off to determine the one player to represent that NHL Club in the Club Championship.
All 32 Club Final winners will move on to compete in the Club Championship bracket. Similar to the 2020-21 NHL season playoff format, Clubs will first compete within their own Division (1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5) to determine a winner for each Division. The four Divisional winners then will compete to crown the 2021 Champion for the North American region.