Hearthstone, the popular digital collectable card game, will no longer be a part of the esports titles in the 19th Asian Games. The forthcoming Asiad, which will feature esports as a medal event for the first time, is set to take place in Hangzhou, China from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8, 2023.
Why did Hearthstone get removed from 19th Asian Games?
Hearthstone was one of eight titles selected for esports at the 19th Asian Games. Unfortunately for fans, the official Twitter account of the multi-sporting event announced today that the game has been cancelled from the “officially listed esports medal events.”
While the tweet didn’t specify an exact reason, it was likely due to the recent suspension of games by Blizzard in China. If you are unaware, Blizzard Entertainment (developer of Hearthstone) and Chinese tech giant NetEase ended their 14-year-old partnership earlier this year.
The partnership saw NetEase publish and operate games by Blizzard Entertainment in the country. However, in November 2022, the two companies announced that the deal was ending. As a result, Blizzard games were indefinitely suspended on Jan. 23, 2023.
Both companies blamed eachother for the fall of the deal, but the people who suffered were the gamers in China. Players who devoted hours to games like Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and more will have their progress wiped.
Blizzard even said that it was a “pity” NetEase wasn’t extending a deal for another six months as the company attempted to find another partner in China. The company stated that the games’ unavailability is merely a suspension. It’s unlikely, though, that they will be brought back anytime soon. This is because the titles will likely have to undergo China’s tough approval process for games again when they are re-published. This sometimes takes a lot of time.
Thus, with Hearthstone being unavailable in China and no return date in sight, it’s not surprising to see Hearthstone being removed from the 19th Asian Games.
Everything about esports in the 19th Asian Games
The 19th Asian Games in China will be the first Asiad to feature esports as a medal event. With the cancellation of Hearthstone, the games in the event are as follows:
- PUBG Mobile (Asian Games version)
- Dota 2
- League of Legends
- Dream Three Kingdoms 2
- Street Fighter V
- Arena of Valor (Asian Games version)
This isn’t the first time esports is being played in the Asian Games, though. In 2018, competitive video gaming was included as a demonstration sport. This event featured Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, StarCraft II, Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, League of Legends, and even Hearthstone. In Hearthstone, Hong Kong’s Lo Tsz Kin took Gold while Indonesia’s Hendry Koentarto bagged the silver medal. Lastly, India’s Tirth Mehta earned the Bronze medal. This time, however, no Hearthstone player will be getting a medal.
Player’s can apply for a special esports athlete title with the Zhejiang Provincial Esports Association starting on April 1st. The goal is to have potential esports athletes and enthusiasts be certified and get easier access to services for the event and in general.