Hearthstone’s oldest team just lost its three biggest players in a co-ordinated exodus.
The team formerly known as Don’t Kick My Robot enjoyed a successful end to 2014, with Ikuta making the semi finals of the inaugural Hearthstone World Championships, and Engelmann and Powder both taking victory in a number of online tournaments, including Tavern Takeover and Heroes of Cards.
Signs of tensions between the three players and their team have been present over the past few months, with Engelmann and Gimre seeking invites to the Assembly Festival tournament without the support of their team earlier this month—team manager “Poach” had initially told the Daily Dot that his players would not be taking part in the event.
Ikuta recently stopped using his team overlay for his Twitch streams, saying he would restore it only when the IHearthU redesigned its logo. His audience had complained about it covering important parts of the game screen.
Over the weekend, the first indications of the departures were seen on social media, as the three players removed all references to IHearthU from their Twitter and Facebook profiles.
On Saturday, Poach—who’s never revealed his real name to the media—told the Daily Dot that the players were still under contract and on the team. Initially the players were to stay under contract with IHearthU until their deals were bought out by a new team. But the three players were eventually granted their release by team owner Simon Abitbol over the weekend following protracted discussions over terms.
The three players will continue to negotiate as a unit, and are in discussions with a number of potential new teams.
“Being with a team for such a long time obviously means that it is hard to leave,” Engelmann told the Daily Dot. “But we all felt like it was in everyones best interest to do so. We leave with no hard feelings and all three of us owe a lot of our success to what IHearthU has given us. We will always be grateful for the time we spent here and we will maintain a strong relationship with the organization.”
IHearthU’s owner, Abitbol, sent the following statement to the Daily Dot:
“Dtwo, Faramir and Powder are some of the best players and people in the Hearthstone scene. We were fortunate to work with them and I have no doubt that they will all achieve big things. Any team that picks them up will be extremely lucky to have them. While I am sad to see them go, it is definitely the best move for all involved. I am excited to continue to work with them in various ways in the future and wish them the best of luck!”
Update 1/26 11:10am CT: This story has been updated to include the IHearthU team owner’s statement.
Photo via DreamHack/Flickr