Blizzard halts Chinese Hearthstone team league over simulated gambling

Players could bet on their games, and Blizzard didn't like it.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

One of the world’s biggest Hearthstone leagues has been temporarily shut down by Blizzard.

According to Team Celestial manager Sinn Tann, Blizzard halted the fourth season of China’s Hearthstone Team Story due to rules in tournament licenses around gambling.

Although it is not clear exactly what happened, video of the tournament games show there is clearly some kind of simulated gambling involved. Teams appear to be betting a certain amount of chips before each game, with the chips left on the dealer’s table.

According to Tann, this was what caused the league to fall foul of Blizzard. The league will return on April 24 with the betting aspects removed.

The betting is similar to that used in the Tempo Storm-run World Series of Sealed, that combined elements of poker and betting that were central to the format. This event has been advertised by the official Hearthstone social media accounts. It is, however, possible that Team Story was shut down by Blizzard China, which operates independently of and with different rules to Blizzard in the West.

Hearthstone Team Story has been running since September 2015, and the current season is its fourth. Like in the West, China’s Hearthstone scene has become somewhat volatile, with former champions Celestial and teams like TongFu, WorldElite, and eStar disbanding their rosters.