A new Gosu Gamers report paints a rather bleak picture of the pro Hearthstone scene in China, which it says is wracked by cheating, primarily in the form of win-trading and pay-to-legend. The problem isn't unique to China—the report makes note of a couple of high-profile incidents involving Western players—but it's particularly endemic in China because of the difficulty of earning a living as a pro gamer, compounded by the sheer size of the competitive field.
The report, which was written by PC Gamer contributor Radoslav "Nydra" Kolev, claims that an organization of at least 14 pro players and streamers in China are offering “illegal services” to whoever's willing to pay for them. “The group uses the phrase 'RenMai,' originally meaning 'Human Networks' in Chinese, as well as 'Yan', or 'act' in English, to never explicitly reveal what they are doing,” it says. “They do not limit themselves to ladder only either, and have organized themselves to compromise the integrity of the Gold Series Open, one of the most respected and high-paying Blizzard-ran cups in China.”
Blizzard China made an attempt to address the issue by drastically reducing the number of Hearthstone Championship Tour points awarded for ladder victories. But the extent of the problem makes taking effective action difficult: A source told the site that RenMai happens “every day, everywhere, every minute,” and that only about one-third of the 30,000 legend rank accounts on the Chinese server are legitimate. The rest have simply been purchased.
Esports, just like pro sports, will always have problems with cheating. That's just a fact of life: If money is involved, somebody somewhere will be doing something unscrupulous to try getting their hands on it. But pervasive corruption is a different, and potentially much more damaging, kind of problem.
The report includes multiple screens of win-trading deals being made, with translations, and also names several prominent players involved in the scheme. If esports is your thing, it's well worth reading in full at gosugamers.net. I've reached out to Blizzard for more information and will update if and when I receive a reply.