Hearthstone Pro Claims He And Wife Were Blacklisted From Event By Blizzard
It's not quite on par with the BlitzChung situation, but this week Blizzard found itself embroiled in another controversy regarding a Hearthstone pro's ability to play. Team Liquid's Janne "Savjz" Mikkonen said on Wednesday that he was called a "liability" and not allowed to compete at a recent Battlegrounds Brawl event due to critical remarks his wife made about Blizzard last year.
This is the reason that was given to me when I said I want to play at this event. My wife was part of the 800 layoffs and she spoke up about the injust practices of company. I was told I am a liability because of who I am married to. https://t.co/G34OuHHL5L
— Janne Mikkonen (@Savjz) June 23, 2020
Christina Mikkonen was one of the 800 employees laid off by Blizzard in February 2019, and she responded negatively to a community manager who posted about job openings shortly thereafter. For that, she said that the CM in question blocked her on Twitter and told her that she would not be allowed to accompany her husband to future events.
Blizzard has denied the accusation that Janne Mikkonen was excluded from any events, saying that it was because he refused to comply with a "request for confidentiality." Mikkonen disputes that claim, saying that "No NDA was ever brought up in conversations." Regardless, he said that he's received an apology from the community lead and is now free to attend future events -- and Christina can accompany him.
I got an apology from the community lead.
I am now OK to participate in future events, and my wife is OK to visit future live events as a guest.
I had no idea this would blow up the way it did. Thanks to everyone who sort of came to my aid? I don’t know how to say it better.
— Janne Mikkonen (@Savjz) June 24, 2020
We still feel like we were treated unfairly, but I really want to just move past this.
— Janne Mikkonen (@Savjz) June 24, 2020
Maybe the two situations aren't directly related, and they probably involved different employees, but given what happened here and with the BlitzChung case, perhaps Blizzard should better train its front-facing employees -- notably community managers -- on the limits of their authority regarding banning people from events. At least this time Congress didn't get involved and J. Allen Brack didn't have to issue a toothless apology.
UPDATE: We've discovered another post from a Hearthstone content creator describing a similar "blacklisting" situation stemming from interactions with the same community manager that took issue with the Mikkonens. The creator, "Zeddy," admitted to being the type to "take things a bit far for entertainment purposes where I'd poke fun at the dev team," but toned down his act after conversations with the CM in question. Despite that, and a well-regarded post concerning balance issues, he alleges that he was still considered to be "extremely negative, that I was creating a pitchfork type attitude towards the team" and wasn't included in pre-release promotions. He ended his statement by expressing concern for other content creators who were afraid to speak out for fear of the CM's "reputation for favoritism and censoring those who are critical."
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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