Last week saw the unedifying spectacle of one of Hearthstone’s higher profile women players, Hyerim ‘MagicAmy’ Lee, quitting her team, and seemingly the scene, after accusations about her identity were made by an ex-teammate, who has himself been banned by Blizzard for ‘win trading’. That was followed by an Imgur dump of screengrabs by two Team Dignitas players showing various online accounts used by Lee, with captions intended to support the original claim. A full blown Reddit freakout followed, as a result of which her team, Tempo Storm, opted to conduct an investigation into whether the claims held any weight. Despite that investigation finding no evidence of wrongdoing, Lee decided to part ways from Tempo Storm rather than have to attend a LAN tournament in order to prove to her detractors that she is who she says she is.
At the time of the split Tempo Storm released a lengthy statement explaining the situation, and wishing Lee all the best. Now, the team’s founder Andrey ‘Reynad’ Yanuk, has offered a considerably more robust take. Speaking on his stream, the VOD of which you can watch above, he said: “Basically, I’ve never been so embarrassed—I’ve never actually been embarrassed to be a Hearthstone player before last week. All of you should be fucking ashamed of yourselves and it’s probably the biggest setback to getting women into e-sports that I can recall happening in the past year or two… You all make me fucking sick.”
Reynad’s relationship with the Hearthstone community on Reddit has long been fractious, and no punches are pulled in terms of who he blames for the damage to Lee’s Hearthstone career: “...because all of the Reddit scumbag community just, like, tries to tear down her reputation she decides to quit Hearthstone. We never even fired her, she just didn’t want to play anymore because of all the shit that happened.”
He also called out Lee’s accusers, including instigator Eric 'Specialist' Lee, and the two Dignitas pros, Lewis ‘Blackout’ Spencer and Keaton ‘Chakki’ Gill, as “dipshits”. He said: “This girl, that’s a pretty good Hearthstone player and made a lot of good content for the community and everyone really liked her before dipshits one through five decided to start a witch hunt, now her career is being scrutinized by Blizzard, by her team, by the entire community. Everyone is convinced she is a man.” I’ve reached out to Chakki and Blackout for their response. The fourth and fifth “dipshits” Reynad refers to are other players who subsequently made claims about Lee’s character, unrelated to her Hearthstone ability.
In the video he also gives some insight into what was involved in Tempo Storm’s investigation, which he said involved 36 people and took three days: “It took all day, everyday. Cross-referencing times, everything. And what do we come up with? Absolutely fucking nothing. There is no evidence ever that somebody was playing for her, and unless we saw IP addresses on certain times and days that she had logged into her account from—which only Blizzard can see—then there’s nothing to ever support the fact that Tarei ever played for her. We talked to Tarei a lot about it. ” Jeffrey ‘Tarei’ Liu is another former teammate of Lee—the two practiced together as part of Team MagicAmy prior to Tarei’s top eight finish at Blizzcon 2014.
Reynad is clearly upset throughout, particularly when it comes to the reaction to Tempo Storm’s findings. Here are his closing remarks in full: “So then, even after we release this report… we say there was no evidence found anywhere, what’s the community’s response? Basically she’s guilty until proven innocent, that’s their response. ‘Prove to us she’s not a man. You’ve never played in an offline tournament.’ Well, you know, she hasn’t played in an offline tournament. Maybe it’s because some Canadian guy has been playing for her all this time. Maybe it’s that she didn’t have $1500 to go play a card game in Sweden for one weekend. I think it was more that thing.”
“Even after a bunch of 14 year-old retards bully [her] out of the scene, they keep making jokes at her expense for like a week straight afterwards. It’s actually disgusting if you think about it. You all make me fucking sick. I really mean that. And if something comes forward a month from now about her doing something scummy, or something with botting—that was like the one [accusation] we couldn’t disprove or find evidence for or against—even then it’s still scummy the way it was handled. I don’t know, just everything about it just makes me sick on so many levels. It’s not just Reddit, it’s Twitch too. It’s literally everywhere that there’s been posts about Amy anywhere. I’m sick of it. It’s actually disgusting.”
It will come as no surprise that Reynad’s attack has been met with a lively Reddit thread of its own, and while most are dismissive of his position, (putting it politely), there are a few voices in there who clearly feel very uncomfortable with the way Lee has been hounded since the original accusation was made. The one element everyone can surely agree on is that the whole sorry mess can have only had a disastrous impact on the perception of professional women Hearthstone players, and the way women in e-sports are treated in general. There are no winners here.