Paul “Zalae” Nemeth Banned From All Hearthstone Esports Events Including Grandmasters

Hearthstone Esports division just confirmed that Paul “Zalae” Nemeth has been suspended from participating in all Hearthstone esports events. He was a part of Grandmasters circuit, which makes it another spot open for the taking shortly after Tincho replaced Justsaiyan due to retirement.

Blizzard decided to ban Zalae from esports after reviewing domestic abuse allegations, which surfaced a couple of months ago.

It’s not certain what is going to happen with Zalae’s matches during this weekend’s opening of Grandmasters 2021 Season 1.


A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over that time, he has achieved many high Legend climbs and infinite Arena runs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

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  1. Vociferous
    April 10, 2021 at 7:32 am

    eSports aren’t the NFL, where star athletes are the big draw. The appeal for gamers is the competition. It’s like big name actors in a movie getting away with criminal behavior because of the studio’s financial stake in their brand.

    Blizzard’s decision to part ways here is standard. Tournament competitors become the face of the company for that season, and just like employees, their personal lives will reflect on the company they’re representing. Hope his ex and Zalae both get their lives on track.

  2. MuM
    April 9, 2021 at 7:40 am

    I love all the little MRA weenies coming out the woodwork. How dare she share her story! How dare people believe her!

    • Junehearth
      April 9, 2021 at 8:04 am

      Everyone believes her. What are you talking about? She is going through therapy and should take legal action. Personally, I don’t watch any streamers or esports. But sharing such info publicly like this might make it difficult for all parties involved to recover mentally and professionally.

  3. Junehearth
    April 9, 2021 at 12:44 am

    Why did she make this issue an online social, public and professionally damaging one? Why did she not take only legal action as was the expected norm before the internet age?

    • Vincent
      April 9, 2021 at 1:24 am

      Agree. If you consider Esport a professional job, he lost his job because of allegations. How can Blizzard “review” a domestic case? Ruining someone’s life over allegations (not proof) is a dangerous precedent. Reminds me of the movie Wild Things. Everyone is against domestic abuse, but it’s her word against his. I do believe she speaks the truth, but she also could be an ex with a grudge. Just saying, we don’t know.

    • Lanakias
      April 9, 2021 at 5:57 am

      The question is why “Blizzard” reacts this way.
      Agree that her word is against his and that she probably took advantage of the popularity of his name to hurt him (revenge). But everyone’s problem is why “Blizzard” ban him from all the tournaments.
      I believe that every company has the right to protect its product. The “zalae” scandal was real or not, it had the effect of affecting the entire game community.
      Also, as a company, they may have become aware of the issue and they took this decision.
      But I think it is the first version. The scandal remains a scandal and so they decided to protect their product.
      From then on, it may have been true what happened but I was not present at what happened between them and her reaction worries me a little.

    • Irishkid200
      April 9, 2021 at 7:25 am

      It doesn’t sound like he did anything that could be used as evidence, so a court case wouldn’t really have a point if there’s no way to prove it. I doubt there’s video nor any physical evidence since this was a while ago. Legally, she can’t do anything; but she can however make the world aware that they’re supporting a domestic abuse perpetrator.

    • Joeydungee
      April 9, 2021 at 8:55 am

      Maybe we should ask “Why did Zalae abuse her” before we ask “Why did she go public?” He might have thought, as many seem to do, that his choices in his personal life wouldn’t affect his professional life.

      Zalae losing his job sucks, but think about what Rini lost in this process.

  4. Lanakias
    April 9, 2021 at 12:20 am

    I never watched him or liked him because I never liked his attitute, but I never imagined that he behaved like that.
    Despite what he did, I do not know why Blizzard reacted in this way to someone’s private life. I really do not know if this move is ok or not, but i definitely do not like what “zalae” did.

  5. H0lysatan
    April 8, 2021 at 10:22 pm

    I’m not saying that I disagree with what Hearthstone did, but I’m just curious as to why does someone’s private life can be a deciding factor in his profesional life. Is this because he’s some sort of public figure?

    E.g, If I was a cannabis smoker, and somebody finds out, it could ruin my job?

    • H0lysatan
      April 8, 2021 at 10:24 pm

      I’m not saying that I did, just as an example. But I think you get the point.

    • Irishkid200
      April 9, 2021 at 7:27 am

      It shows his character. If he’s a domestic abuse perpetrator, people don’t want to support that. It could in fact get you fired from your job, or you could face charges if challenged in court with enough evidence. The cannabis example is odd just because it’s slowly becoming legalized, but in a state where it isn’t legal, it could ruin your job even if not proven nor inherently wrong simply because it makes your character look bad.

      • H0lysatan
        April 9, 2021 at 6:32 pm

        I agree, but it’s not proven yet. (though the masses already judge too far)
        By most, all I can hope is the truth before acting so fast.
        There’s some rare cases where it’s otherwise.

        But all is done. And decision has already been made.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      April 9, 2021 at 7:59 am

      Of course private life can make a difference in someone’s professional career and it has always been like that. I don’t know why people act like it’s some sort of a new thing.

      The thing is that when you work for a company, especially a big company, you’re there because you’re making them more money than they pay you. That’s really the only reason. But now, if you do something that might damage their image to the point that people would stop supporting them or buying their products, they don’t want to keep you anymore, because you’re losing them money.

      Like in this case. Zalae was a bad PR for Blizzard – people were talking about him quite often on social media, they were bringing him up quite often, I’ve heard many people won’t watch Grandmasters because of him and so on. If they did nothing and let him play like nothing happened, I’m sure that many people wouldn’t like it.

      Heck, even in a smaller company, what you do in private life can make you look bad in your professional life. When your boss finds out that you’re doing something that he doesn’t approve, even if it’s your own business, there’s a very high chance that it will impact your career whether you feel it’s “fair” or not. E.g. he might not give you a raise/promotion, or even find a reason to fire you.

      Also, domestic abuse is something very different from smoking cannabis. One is clearly wrong and one is arguably not that bad, or even good for your health in many cases. But honestly? Yes, many people would fire you for smoking in places where it’s illegal to do so (like in my country, I personally know a couple of people who got fired because their employer found out that they’re into it).

      That’s just how it works. Is it how it SHOULD work? That’s another story.

      • MuM
        April 9, 2021 at 11:15 am

        Now imagine if he was a wife beater AND supported a free Hong Kong

      • H0lysatan
        April 9, 2021 at 6:24 pm

        Isn’t there a saying like “Innocent until proven guilty”?
        But yeah, the story already laid-out by his ex-partner. There’s still room for him to deny or something like that. And so far, he does nothing to clarify this thing. And so, I have to believe his ex side of story.

        But bad PR for Hearthstone is make sense, something I never have thought. (because sometime, I think Hearthstone shouldn’t acted so fast without checking whether the allegation is true or not).
        Again, I have to point out that I never support abuses or harrasment, and he clearly deserved this if it was true.

  6. Pandamonium
    April 8, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    What a loser wow. I’m not familiar but judging from the other comments I know the exact type. You know the ones who wear their gaming endorsement shirts with their arms crossed like they really believe in some fantasy of their own nerdy grandeur. Nerd-raging about a game that’s basically lottery-based at the highest levels is really stupid.

  7. Thankmar
    April 8, 2021 at 2:23 pm

    I do not like to tie someones unappealing attitude to criminal deeds (because what does it say about the reverse?), but I am a bit relieved to see that I am not alone in finding him very unlikeable. For me, he stood out like a sore thumb in the group around Kibler, Firebat and Frodan.
    Not that they are per se not capable to do something alike (see parenthesis before), but they seem so much more genial.

  8. DemianHS
    April 8, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    Good move Blizzard. It’s means a lot. Just so sad that wasn’t earlier.

  9. Dmic006
    April 8, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    Not surprising. I always thought he had such an egotistical attitude. One of the few streamers I couldn’t bear to watch.

  10. SOUPZE
    April 8, 2021 at 11:26 am

    another one bites the dust