BlizzCon 2019 kicked off with a lazy or rather insignificant apology from Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack. Then the keynote moved to the big game announcements that were expected at the conference. Blizzard revealed Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV, along with expansions to its existing games including World of Warcraft and Hearthstone. Also, a first in the world of esports, China's Xiaomeng "VKLiooon" Li became the first woman to win the title of Hearthstone Global Champion.
Blizzard president's apology
The annual conference opened up with Brack walking up on stage and apologising on the company's controversial decision of banning a Hearthstone player and two Taiwanese casters. When Hearthstone Grandmaster Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai expressed support for Hong Kong's freedom protest, laden with a mask and protest gear, he was immediately banned.
"We moved too quickly in our decision making, and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you. When I think about what I'm most unhappy about, there's really two things: The first one is that we didn't live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves. And the second is that we failed in our purpose. And for that, I am sorry, and I accept accountability," said Brack. This was the first time that the company publicly addressed the issue.
However, he failed to acknowledge the reason for his apology without elaborating on the controversy during the opening keynote. Blitzchung and the two casters are still banned. In an interview with PC Gamer, Brack said the only reason they were banned was that they violated the company policy of expressing about a topic that wasn't related to the game. "The content was not the problem. It was the fact that it was not about the game in question, it was something very specifically different," added Brack.
Moving on, one of the biggest announcements from the conference, it's finally official that the sequel to Overwatch is currently under development. Details about the game had already leaked out a week ago and now Blizzard confirmed all of it with the announcement. Co-op and new PvE modes are going to be the focus of the game with Story and Hero missions. Player progress from the first game will be carried over to the sequel which means all the old collected cosmetics will be available in the inventory. 'Sojourn', a new hero was announced but her abilities haven't been revealed. Overwatch 2 currently doesn't have any release date.
Highly anticipated for some time, Diablo IV was revealed in a gory and bloody cinematic trailer. It sets up the story of the game with some gameplay footage set in an open world. It will follow a non-linear story. What is disappointing is that the game won't run offline since the shared open-world setting of the game requires an internet connection to play. Again, there's no release date of the game.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
Coming out next year, World of Warcraft has a new expansion called Shadowlands. It takes place in a different realm, death, to be precise. >PC Gamer reported that it's supposed to complete the faction war of 'Battle for Azeroth' where both factions have to unite to fight against The Old Gods. Ultimately, they must face the 'Void Lord' monsters. It comes out next year and WoW Classic's new update arrives on 12 November.
Hearthstone: Descent of Dragons
Another expansion announced at BlizzCon was for Hearthstone called Descent of Dragons. This will be the third and final expansion in the game and it releases on 10 December. It features a new mode called 'Hearthstone Battlegrounds' which comes from the auto-battle genre similar to Dota Underlords. The expansion comes in open beta on 12 November.
First woman to win Global Hearthstone Championship
Already regarded as the first woman to qualify for the Hearthstone Global Finals, VKLiooon won 3-0 against Brain "bloodyface" Eason of Lazarus Esports from the US. Throughout the event, she was unbeaten and finally, won the championship with a clean sweep. "I want to say for all the girls out there who have a dream for esports competition, for glory, if you want to do it and you believe in yourself you should just forget your gender and go for it," she advised while collecting her trophy and prize money of $200,000.