Blizzard Entertainment’s competitive card game Hearthstone will no longer be a medaled event at this year’s Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.
This is largely due to Hearthstone servers no longer being online in China following Blizzard’s well-documented split with Chinese tech company NetEase, according to the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF).
AESF stated in its announcement that efforts were made by the federation to resolve this issue. However, after discussions with the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC), it was proposed that Hearthstone be removed from the event’s competition programme. This decision was later confirmed by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
The news will be a monumental blow to the Hearthstone scene, with the title, among others, selected as an inaugural official medal sport in esports at the Asian Games. Previously, esports had only been used as a demonstration sport.
The other esports titles selected as medaled events from the Games include Arena of Valor (Asian Games Version), Dota 2, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, FIFA, League of Legends, PUBG Mobile (Asian Games Version) and Street Fighter V.
Originally scheduled to take place in September 2022, the Asian Games will commence from September 23rd to October 8th, 2023.
Regarding the announcement, Lokesh Suji, Director of the Esports Federation of India and Vice President of the AESF, stated: “It is unfortunate to hear that Hearthstone will not be included in the upcoming Asian Games, especially because India’s first esports medal at the tournament came in this very title in 2018 when Tirth Mehta clinched the bronze medal.
“Nonetheless, we respect the OCA’s decision and remain confident that our athletes will perform at the highest level in the other titles to make the country proud. We look forward to supporting them as they represent India in the prestigious tournament.”
This isn’t the first time esports has crossed over into traditional multi-sport events. The SEA Games have held medaled esports events since 2019. Moreover, the 2022 Commonwealth Games hosted a pilot esports event.