In a monumental U-turn by ESL, the ruleset for ESL Atlantic Showdown has been drastically changed to now use Hero Limit 1 and stopwatch for Escort and Hybrid modes.
Well ok, it's not quite stopwatch. It's actually a mode called Timed Completion, which means that the time taken only applies if both teams complete the map. Given that this is the most likely situation in highly competitive tournament games, it's a great change for the tournament. Ties will be far less likely, and teams are directly rewarded for setting faster times on offence. The ruleset has been used multiple times in GosuGamer Weeklies, so teams and viewers should be familiar with it and it won't be a huge adaptation.
Hero Limit 1 however is an enormous change. After all of the raging debate recently surrounding this topic, it marks the moment a huge tournament organiser turned to the side of most professional players. It is important to note that at no point in their official announcement did they mention this was with the blessing of Blizzard. It may also indicate a U-turn from Blizzard themselves, but the alternate and equally interesting case is that ESL have decided that their players and viewers outweigh the developer backing.
This will have knock-on effects for upcoming smaller tournaments, as teams will be scrambling to practise HL1 after spending weeks without limits. GosuGamers already announced that they will be following ESL, and iBUYPOWER are expected to as well.
It cannot be understated how much of a double-edged sword this change is for the teams. Not only have some teams now qualified with a totally different ruleset that favoured certain sides over others, but the teams are now being thrown back into HL1 after weeks of dedicated HL0 practice. For new teams like FaZe Clan who already had to play catch-up, this means weeks of incredibly important time wasted. The silver lining is that most players prefer playing HL1, and it was player-driven feedback that instigated the change.
The most interesting part of this whole situation is whether ESL also speak for Blizzard. Have they come around to HL1 after overwhelming feedback? Was this change given their blessing, or have their opponents just recruited a major tournament organiser in the war? Time will tell.