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Professional players of Hearthstone, Blizzard’s Magic-like online card game, are getting ready for one of the biggest tournaments of the year, the Spring Championship. With hundreds of thousands in prizes on the line, the top players in North America will travel to do battle in an arena befitting the prestige of the event: Buffalo Wild Wings.
Wait, what? Well, past events have been held in esports-friendly venues, including California’s Esports Arena and Virginia’s The Cave, but this tournament is partially hosted by suburban-dad-friendly sports bar chain “B-dubs.” The competitors are, to say the least, not pleased.
????????????? pic.twitter.com/HWawifs5TJ— Ant (@Ant_Hs) May 9, 2017
In a popular Reddit thread, Spring Championships competitor Qwerty97 writes that, when the available tournament locations were emailed to qualifying players around the Americas on May 8, a number of popular past venues had been removed. The closest locations for players on the East Coast are in Canada or Georgia, and for players in the Midwest and California … well, it’s pretty much Buffalo Wild Wings.
That’s hugely disappointing to some of the 64 players who put in months of grinding to qualify, including Qwerty97.
“For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a tournament of the top 64 point earners in your region playing to make it to the championships. You get points from doing well in online cups, majors, and top 200 finishes on the ladder,” he writes.
“So to become top 64 it takes a lot of commitment, but Blizzard does not seem to be caring about the players as much as they should be.”
Other pros have taken to Twitter to complain about the awkward situation and how it might affect the competition.
I have no idea why we play 7 hours of open cups 4 times a week + endless hours of ladder grind, just for a chance to play at buffalo wing— Xzirez (@Xzirezhs) May 9, 2017
THIS. Buffalo Wild Wings is not where I want to play the most stressful games of Hearthstone in my life. It better not be open to public... https://t.co/ouLAruyAER— rayC (@PG_rayC) May 9, 2017
either buffalo wild wings paid blizzard a large sum of money or someone at blizzard was really hungry..— Justin Black (@JABLOL) May 9, 2017
Blizzard and Buffalo Wild Wings just confirmed to me whoever wins Playoffs on NA will get a buffalo wild wings sauce flavor in their honor.— Kyle Evans (@ImmortalLionHS) May 9, 2017
Although the fiasco affects 64 people at most, “Buffalo Wild Wings” has already become something of a meme in the Hearthstone community.
"Welcome to Buffalo Wild Wings presents: Hearthstone HCT Spring Playoffs! Live from a Buffalo Wild Wings." pic.twitter.com/rRgY7MTe23— Nicholas Weiss (@hsdecktech) May 9, 2017
@Spyvrr Picture this sandwich: Just a pile of Buffalo Wild Wings wings stuffed between two Hearthstone cards.— Sam Benson (@Ben_Samson) May 9, 2017
“They should do all the [live broadcasting] from BWW as well. Can’t wait to see a waiter running through the screen every now and then chanting ‘WHO ORDERED THESE WINGS?’ Transfers the thrill of the tournament directly to the viewers!” wrote a commenter on Reddit’s Hearthstone forum.
Even players from other games are mocking the unfortunate Hearthstone pros:
Legends, idk what you have planned, but if I ever have to play a tournament from a buffalo wild wings like some poor HS players, I'm out.— Christian Van Hoose (@IAmCVH) May 9, 2017
But a loss for these competitive gamers is a win for comedy.
“While this is all very sad and pathetic on Blizzard’s part, Buffalo Wild Wings is going to become a legendary meme within this community,” opined one Reddit poster.
The jokes are already flowing freely on Reddit and Twitter.
“I was told this tournament would be Buffalo Standard Wings,” wrote goldencommonHS on Reddit. (Hearthstone‘s two formats are called “Wild” and “Standard.”)
“It’s really for me hard to grasp that we are playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Buffalo Wild Wings,” wrote Ant, a well-known player who qualified for the tournament.
“Maybe they should express your winnings in the number of wings you could buy?” someone responded.
Ouch. Best of luck to the Hearthstone Spring Championships competitors. At least you can comfort yourself with wings and beer if you get knocked out.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.