Blizzard suspends Hearthstone player Zalae from Grandmasters following abuse allegations

Source: Radoslav Kolev

 

UPDATE Apr. 9:

 

Blizzard has told Inven Global that Zalae's suspension will be for a period of one year. On the question of what prompted it or whether an investigation into the allegations was considered and/or carried out, Blizzard said they "do not discuss internal eligibility decisions".

 

Original story:

 

Blizzard has suspended Hearthstone Grandmaster player Paul "Zalae" Nemeth following allegations of abuse from his ex-girlfriend. Zalae was announced as a member of the Grandmaster circuit on Wednesday, Apr. 7, but was suspended after just one day and a few hours before the first matches began.

 

Zalae was accused of domestic abuse by ex-girlfriend Rini in January 2021. In a TwitLonger, Rini detailed events of her relationship with the player, alleging a pattern of behavior where "Zalae repeatedly was taunting/body posturing at me like he was going to hit me, closing me into small spaces, making himself appear bigger/threatening and physically grabbing my wrists tightly to hold me in the small spaces". Rini admitted to having physically slapped Zalae across his arms on two occasions, with the second one allegedly provoking a fit of rage in him.

 

"The second slap resulted in him physically picking me up and dragging me to the bedroom, throwing me on the bed, physically got on top of me and put a pillow over my face while holding me down, effectively suffocating me until I managed to get a breath to yell "I can't breathe!!"
He was in such a rage," Rini writes.


Although the allegations surfaced in January and engaged a lot of high-profile members of the Hearthstone community, Zalae was still included as one of the Grandmaster players for the 2021 season. When asked for comment, Blizzard told Inven Global on Wednesday, Apr. 7, that the company is "aware of the allegations and are assessing the matter". Zalae was banned a day later, on Apr. 8.

 

The official statement doesn't say how long Zalae's suspension will last: whether it's temporary, season-long, or permanent. Although prompted for comment, Blizzard has not yet told Inven Global whether an investigation has been started, or even considered. According to Inven Global sources, between January, when the allegations broke, and today, there has been no attempt of an investigation involving contacting the grieving party.

 

The story is developing.

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