Hangzhou, China, March 16, 2023: The Esports programme at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China this September and October has been cut from eight to seven events with the removal of Hearthstone.
The decision was confirmed at the 5th OCA Coordination Committee meeting in Hangzhou on Thursday and will leave Esports with seven gold medals to play for when electronic sports makes its debut as an official medal sport at Hangzhou.
Hearthstone is a free-to-play online digital collectible card game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment and was originally subtitled Heroes of Warcraft.
Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee HAGOC explained that Hearthstone was produced by Blizzard Entertainment in the United States and operated on the Chinese mainland by NetEase.
In November 2022, Blizzard Entertainment entered into negotiations with NetEase over operating rights for game products such as Hearthstone. The negotiations were unsuccessful.
On January 24, 2023, Blizzard Entertainment officially shut down its game servers in the Chinese mainland. One week later, HAGOC and the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) agreed on the removal of Hearthstone as one of the competition games if Blizzard Entertainment was unable to confirm a replacement operator or obtain the publication number by the end of February.
On February 22, Blizzard Entertainment was unable to meet the requirements of the relevant policies in the Chinese mainland, before the deadline set by HAGOC and the AESF. The decision was made to remove Hearthstone and that no replacement would be made.
Esports will make its official debut as an Asian Games sport with the following seven titles: League of Legends, Arena of Valor Asian Games Version, Peace Elite Asian Games Version, DOTA 2, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, Street Fighter V and FIFA Online 4.