SPORTS Blizzard's Hearthstone removed from Asian Games due to server halt


Blizzard's Hearthstone removed from Asian Games due to server halt


20:27, March 16, 2023

Hearthstone players participate in the "Gold League" in Jinhua City, east China's Zhejiang Province, November 30, 2019. (Photos: CFP)

Hearthstone, a digital collectible card game developed by U.S. game maker Blizzard Entertainment, has been kicked out of the 19th Asian Games in China's Hangzhou, according to an official statement released by the organizers on Thursday.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) confirmed the decision proposed by the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC) and the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) during the fifth Coordination Committee meeting.

All Blizzard games are currently out of service on the Chinese mainland after negotiations between the company and its operator NetEase fell through in November 2022.

"This has left the game in a state where it is unable to be included as one of the competition events at the Hangzhou Asian Games," according to the official statement.

The AESF said "efforts were made" to resolve the issue, but "no significant progress" was made in finding a solution.

After the OCA's latest decision, the Hangzhou Asian Games will feature seven esports events, namely FIFA Online 4, PUBG Mobile Asian Games version, Arena of Valor Asian Games version, Dota 2, League of Legends, Dream Three Kingdoms 2 and Street Fighter V.

"We remain fully dedicated to providing a world-class platform for esports athletes to showcase their skills and abilities to the world," said the AESF. "We sincerely hope you will join us in making history at the Hangzhou Asian Games and demonstrate the boundless potential of esports as a major sporting phenomenon."

During the previous Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, six video game titles were played as demonstration sports, including two from Blizzard, namely Hearthstone and StartCraft II.

Gold, sliver and bronze medals were awarded but not counted in the medal tally.

Team China plays against Team South Korea in the League of Legends final at the Jakarta Asian Games, August 29, 2018.

For the next Asian Games in China's Hangzhou, the medals will count, but no Blizzard games will be played.

Blizzard has announced the exclusion of Chinese mainland players from its Hearthstone Esports event in 2023, citing that the company is looking for "alternatives" for bringing the game back.

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