Nathan "ThatsAdmirable" Zamora stated he will be joining Brian Kibler and no longer be casting the Hearthstone Grandmasters at BlizzCon or going forward. Admirable has also pulled out of casting Masters Bucharest.
On the other side of things, Simon "Sottle" Welch has announced that he will be casting Grandmasters stating he does not need to agree with the actions or policies of his employer, and he will neither support or condone them.
Note: It is okay to not agree with Sottle, or even Admirable, for their different views. It is, however, not okay for personal attacks against either person.
ThatsAdmirable No Longer Casting
For half a decade, I have sought to bring passion and joy to a community that shares my love for Hearthstone and card games. The thirst for competition, the desire for drama, and the conquest for glory. It's lead me down paths I could not have fathomed as a young man playing games. During that half decade, I've worked to uphold Blizzard's foundational, core values - particularly Every Voice Matters. However, in light of recent events regarding Blitzchung, it is with a heavy hearth that I must say this:
I will not be a part of the broadcast team for Hearthstone for the remainder of the Grandmasters season, for the Masters Tour in Bucharest, or for BlizzCon.
Blitzchung's actions to support Hong Kong speak to me far more than I could have imagined. It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in, and to make sacrifices in the process. His actions are inspiring to me, and I support him wholeheartedly.
Brian Kibler released a statement that pretty much hits the nail on the head. It's hard to add much more to this, and I agree with Brian's stance on this matter.
In Brian's closing thoughts, he says:
However, I want to make clear that not everyone involved in GM has this luxury. Do not take your anger out on the other casters, or streamers, or employees of Blizzard. This is not the kind of decision that comes from the rank and file. Most likely they’re just as angry as you are. I know I am.
He's not wrong. For me, this is a large part of my livelihood. This is my passion. This pursuit has been my life, and I'm lucky that I've been able to make it a career. But I cannot compromise my conviction. Without change that would convince me that Blizzard will uphold their core value "Every Voice Matters," I cannot continue casting the game.
Hearthstone and games have taught me a lot of valuable lessons. And so, in summary, here's how I can best describe it:
In Hearthstone, good strategic play involves making the right choice, even if that choice will sometimes cost you. You think about the range of possibilities from the other side. With the hand you're dealt, you make the best choice you can, even if the foreseeable outcomes hurt. That doesn't mean you should make worse choices - it means do the right thing, even if you pay the price.
Sottle Continues to Cast
As most of you likely know, last week APAC Grandmaster Blitzchung was disqualified from Grandmasters and had his prize money stripped away due to a rules violation regarding political speech.
I fully support Blitzchung's right to protest and have immense sympathy for his cause and for the plight of the Hong Kong people. What he did was incredibly brave and my heart goes out to him and everyone else fighting for Democracy.
However, in light of the recent relevations that one or more casters will be stepping away from Hearthstone, I would like to affirm that I fully intend to fulfill my contracts with Hearthstone Esports and am open to work with them in the future.
I do not have to agree with the actions or policies of any employer, partner, or service to continue to be affiliated with them. My views are my own, and remain unchanged and uninfluenced by this decision or by Blizzard or Hearthstone Esport's actions.
I love Hearthstone, and I love what I do. I choose to continue not to support or condone these actions, but to support an incredible game and an incredible team at the ground level who work to put on tournaments and productions that I love being a part of.
It is important to me that I as an individual can disagree with decisions that are made by Hearthstone Esports or Blizzard and that our relationship can continue unaffected. This is why I felt it was important to make this statement and I hope and expect that they can grant me that courtesy
American University Team Forfeits Games
We had previously reported on the American University collegiate Hearthstone team had held up a sign stating "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizzard". The team has decided to forfeit the rest of their matches because Blizzard did not penalize them for their actions, calling Blizzard hypocritical.
Blizzard/TeSPA has decided not to penalize American University for holding up their sign and has scheduled their next match, but AU has decided to forfeit the match and the season, saying it is hypocritical for Blizzard to punish blitzchung but not them