Two prominent Hearthstone streamers have stepped down from an upcoming tournament in order to help improve diversity and inclusion in the space.
Kripparrian and RegisKillbin were due to take part in the Hearthstone Crossroads Inn-vitational tomorrow (April 21st), featuring 20 players and a $100,000 prize pool.
They have now voluntarily stepped down, with women players Lunaloveee and Avelline taking their spaces.
The move comes following a debate around sexism and a lack of inclusion within the Hearthstone community.
Women players such as Jia, Slysssa, Sunglitters, Avelline, BabyBear and more have spoken out about the issue over the past week, as have men in the community like Zeddy, UK caster and streamer Simon ‘Sottle’ Welch and others.
Jia said in her thread: “We literally had a woman world champion in Hearthstone, and people still won’t shut up about how women are less logical or competitive than men. Dunno about you but if there’s something we can do about that now, I think we should.”
Avelline added: “Whenever I was bullied or mistreated I would just talk back, ban and block people thinking I was getting rid of the toxicity, but the truth is I was just turning a blind eye to it. Coming from an insanely toxic local community I’ve faced a lot of vulgar comments, disrespect and personal attacks. It wasn’t just randoms or viewers, but players and streamers as well.”
There were also reports of NaviOOT’s Discord server harbouring misogyny and fuelling his community to target Pathra, who he claimed at the time had taken a Grandmaster’s slot that ‘he deserved’.
Pathra has since published a statement explaining why she no longer plays Hearthstone, and Navi published his own statement, saying: “I should have done more to hold my community accountable all these years. I am a hypocrite for not standing by my values and changing my community for the better. Being silent is part of the problem. I will take a step back for a few days and make an effort to both moderate and educate my community.”
The tournament features other prominent players including Thijs, Alliestrasza, Trump, Brian Kibler and more. It now has four women and 16 men taking part, tweaked from the two women and 18 men originally.
Blizzard added on the Hearthstone Twitter page: “Why we’re doing this: representation and inclusion matter, and we’re committing ourselves to being better. It’s vital that our events represent the reality of the Hearthstone community made up of numerous talented and deserving women who dedicate themselves to the game every day.
“In order to commit ourselves to doing better in the future, every community event’s invitees will have a greater representation of women moving forward. This is only one piece of our future plans around diversity and inclusion.
“To the women of the Hearthstone community: thank you, and know that we will live up to this through our actions.”
Kripparrian’s partner and manager, Rania, said:
RegisKillbin also published this statement on his withdrawal from the tournament:
Representation has been a talking point in esports for some time now.
Earlier this year, Rainbow Six Siege’s first openly gay operator was revealed – which sparked a debate around representation on social media.
Former LEC caster Froskurinn also spoke about the lack of diversity on the LEC team back in January.
And earlier this month, MNM co-founder Kalvin Chung spoke about Asian representation in esports.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.