Blizzard Entertainment has banned Hearthstone star Paul ‘Zalae’ Nemeth from competing in all esports events & tournaments for their flagship card game, following several accusations of abuse leveled at the Grandmaster star.
Hearthstone Esports today confirmed Zalae has been suspended from the game’s Grandmaster tour following allegations of domestic abuse.
The company announced his ban on April 8: “Hearthstone Esports is aware of allegations against America Grandmaster Paul ‘Zalae’ Nemeth. Upon further review, we have suspended Zalae from competing in all Hearthstone Esports events.”
The Omnislash representative was originally announced as a member of the new Grandmaster circuit on Wednesday, April 7. The 34-year-old was originally penned in to play in the North American conference, but has since been stripped of his prestigious circuit spot, less than 24 hours out from the opening round.
The ban will run until 2022, Blizzard has confirmed.
Zalae was first accused of abuse three months ago, in a Twitlonger released by the Grandmaster’s ex-girlfriend Rini. She alleged he would “repeatedly taunt/body posture [her]” like he was going to hit her, and would “physically grab [her] wrists.”
“I was very clear often he was scaring me,” she said.
“It was all about control. How dare I stand up for myself? He needs serious help… he needs to go to anger management. [Zalae] intentionally threatened me regularly.”
Rini revealed she physically slapped Zalae across his arm on two separate occasions in efforts to stop him. The second, she wrote, allegedly provoked him into a fit of rage that led to him “physically picking [Rini] up and dragging her across the bedroom” in retaliation.
“[He] threw me on the bed, physically got on top of me, and put a pillow over my face while holding me down. It effectively suffocated me until I managed to get a breath in to yell ‘I can’t breathe!!’” she continued. “He was in such a rage.”
Blizzard told Inven early on April 7 — soon after the Grandmaster announcement — that they were “aware of the allegations and are assessing the matter.”
TL;DW Zalae and his abuse in our relationship
— Rini (@lidlRini) January 18, 2021
Blizzard told Dexerto the company “dooes not discuss internal eligibility decisions” when asked about whether Zalae could receive further punishment.
The spot in Grandmasters will not be filled until the mid-year promotions for Season 2, as the season is already underway.
Dexerto will keep you updated on this developing story.