Abar leaves Hearthstone Esports: “what I got wasn’t exactly what I signed up for” cover image

Abar leaves Hearthstone Esports: “what I got wasn’t exactly what I signed up for”

Hearthstone Esports Product Manager, Abar, announced on social media that he would be stepping down. A huge loss for the program.

Hearthstone Esports can't catch a break, last night, Alex “Abar” Barhorst posted a tweet longer in which he announced he was leaving Blizzard. After huge cuts to the program, seen by many as a death sentence, the person that probably cared the most about competitive Hearthstone is leaving the company.

"I’m not about to go flaming anyone as I walk out the door. Honestly, no one deserves that. But I do think it’s fair of me to say that what I got wasn’t exactly what I signed up for. And that’s fine. I’m disappointed, sure, but no one owes me anything."

Abar leaves Blizzard

Abar leaves Hearthstone Esports

Abar's second chance in Hearthstone Esports came to an end after mismatched expectations. He became the Product Manager in late 2021 with the challenge of reshaping the scene after the underperforming Grandmasters system.

In his first months in charge, Abar made a revamp of Hearthstone Esports, sunsetting the Grandmasters Program in 2022 and establishing a competitive scene for Battlegrounds. Everyone knew 2022 was a transition year, what nobody expected was where that transition would take us.

Battlegrounds Lobby Legends promo ft. Abar and Griffey
Battlegrounds Lobby Legends promo ft. Abar and Griffey

In January 2023, after several delays, Blizzard announced they were cutting Hearthstone Esports prize money for the year by almost 70%, a decision that came way above Abar. This was devastating for the competitive community as a whole. Viewers, players, casters, producers and HSE employees mourned together.

"One thing I want to make clear is that nobody pushed me out the door. Even as the esports program was gutted, there was a genuine attempt to create a new path forward for me to be professionally successful within the company by some of the people above me. It just wasn’t what I wanted. There was too much baggage. I needed to move on."

Extract from Abar's Twittlonger

Abar and the competitive community

In his tweet longer, Abar explained that the reason behind writing it was how the Hearthstone Esports community reacted to the terrible 2023 announcement. Despite being in the eye of the hurricane, the community understood the true nature of what happened.

"The biggest reason that I wanted to write this post was that I never got the chance to properly thank all of you for how much kindness you showed me personally after the announcement of this year’s program."

Abar on the community reaction to the 2023 HSE announcement

Despite being devastated, the community understood Abar was not to blame, but yet another victim of budget cuts. This positive and empathic response had a great impact on Abar. "It gave me the chance to mourn alongside all of you rather than doing so alone, and that meant a lot to me. So thank you."

What's next for Abar and Hearthstone Esports

Abar didn't give certainty about what would his next steps be after leaving Hearthstone Esports. However, he mentioned that he would be staying in the industry. Moreover, he disclosed that he trained someone else to manage the team.

Leaving something you are so passionate about is complex and leaves a void hard to fill sometimes. In that sense, Abar mentioned that he had found other sources of motivation and joy outside Hearthstone Esports.

"For years, HSE was my purpose in life, really, but I’ve picked up others (…). In fact, I just recently auditioned for and was accepted to the Orange County Salsa advanced dance program! I’m going to be rank 1 NA before you know it."

Next steps

Closing thoughts

Abar Tweetlonger went over many deep topics besides Hearthstone Esports. He took some time to remember the good old HSE times, but at the same time, he reflected on the impact COVID and his childhood had on his life.

I'd recommend you to go and read the full story for that. But if you don't have time for that, I think that the following is somewhat the cornerstone of his message.

"I wish that I could go back in time and tell 13-year-old Alex that he’s good enough just the way that he is. And 17-year-old Alex. And 21-year-old Alex. And especially 25-year-old Alex."

Abar's letter finishes with a positive message that speaks volumes about how Hearthstone Esports and its community shaped his life: "I’m proud of me, and I’m proud of you. Thanks for everything."

It will be difficult for the next Hearthstone Esports lead to fill the void left, but if Abar has faith in them, let's all have it as well.

That's all for now, but stay tuned for more Hearthstone news and updates and be sure to visit esports.gg for all the latest esports news.