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Greetings, everyone! We hope you’re ready for 2012 to begin in earnest, because it’s time to play.

Last week, we announced the first details of our new structure for StarCraft 2: four Seasons, with the Winter Season comprised of Invitation-Only Online Qualifiers, leading to a live Arena, with everything culminating in a live Championship in Columbus, OH. The Online Qualifiers directly impact Arena participation and Championship seeding.  The Arena adds another level of live competition and strengthens Championship Pool Play.  The Championships are still the insane test of skill you’ve come to know and love, and now there's even more on the line.

Before we get to the fun stuff (meaning the prize money), there’s an important bit of information we’d like to get out to everyone. While we can’t yet announce the cities in which the Spring, Summer and Fall Championships will take place, we can tell you the dates. We know you need to start making plans, and we want to give you the info you need to do so.  Dates for the Online Qualifiers, Arenas, and all other segments leading up to each Season’s Championship, will be announced later. We'll also be bringing you info on additional Pro Circuit games and prizing for future Championship events. For now, here are the dates of all the Championships themselves.

2012 Season Championship Dates

Got your calendars marked? Excellent. Now, on to details about the Winter StarCraft 2 Season.  We have invited 139 of the world’s best players to compete in the Regional Online Qualifiers (Confirmed Player List coming soon), and the Top 8 from each Region (NA/EU/KR) will be flown, all expenses paid, to NYC to compete live in the Winter Arena, alongside the Top 8 finishers from MLG Providence ’11. The Top 16 from this Arena will be flown, all expenses paid, to the Winter Championship, where they will go straight into Pool Play. The bottom 16 will go into Open Winners Round 5, where it’s just a quick two-win hop into the Championship Bracket. But what’s at stake?

StarCraft 2 Winter Championship Prize Money

You did indeed read that right. It's no longer the Top 8 that will win prize money at the Championship: it's the Top 16. And Consolation matches are now gone. 256 Players will compete for $76k, split among 16 players, with $25k for 1st alone; that’s five times what it was for 1st Place at a Pro Circuit event last year. All competitors should know that acing the Online Qualifiers and then the Arena will give you an incredibly significant advantage in the Championship, where a ton of money is up for grabs. 

Full StarCraft 2 Winter Season Schedule

We will have even more information for you soon, including the rules, format and Map Pool for the Online Qualifiers and Arena. We'll also be providing full information about all the other games that will be on the Pro Circuit. For now, if you're a StarCraft 2 player, we hope you're ready. There's a lot more at stake now. And keep in mind, this is just Winter. Who knows what glory Spring will bring? Welcome to the MLG 2012 Pro Circuit.

Competitor Passes for MLG Columbus will go on sale February 14th at 7pm ET. Spectator passes will go on sale soon.