Throughout the last week, an obsession overtook some of the Hearthstone community. Allegation after allegation started populating Reddit threads and YouTube videos -- all about a top Hearthstone player called MagicAmy. The claim? That she wasn't who she claimed to be. That the player with the handle "MagicAmy" wasn't being played by a woman, as it appeared, but a man who was using an ex-girlfriend as a front.
It was a conspiracy theory, but one that proved to be seductive to many Hearthstone players. It all revolved around a woman named Hyerim Lee, who is a South Korean Hearthstone player that made a splash after winning a Hearthstone competition. Earlier this week, a post on Reddit started floating around, where a former teammate of Lee's stated outright that his words were "conjecture," but that he suspected that perhaps there was no singular person that was behind the "MagicAmy" account. Instead, he claimed that the account was likely actually a man, and that this person was simply using a woman as a front.
The evidence? The player cited the fact that it was strange that MagicAmy never participated in the Koren Hearthstone circuit, despite being Korean. He also cited the fact that she never seemed to stream, and that she didn't appear at offline Hearthstone events. Then, he hypothesized that it was likely in his eyes that she was actually deceiving everyone, with the purpose of exploiting the North American Hearthstone scene. They were, in short, strong allegations that didn't seem to have the necessary evidence to support them. But people ran with it anyway.
"Current speculation is that MagicAmy was really 2 people the entire time," the major post summarizing all the drama on Reddit said. "One would play Hearthstone (male) while the real MagicAmy's face (female) was used as a face to show up on streams or talk on the phone."
What set fuel to the fire here was that MagicAmy pulled out of a tournament recently.
"Little issue with the visa," Lee wrote on Reddit. "I'm upset and sad I won't be able to make it this time around, but I will do my best to participate in future LAN events including the next ESL. Sorry for all those who wanted to see me... I will make up for it somehow :("
Paired with the allegations from a former teammate that claimed MagicAmy was not real, and that you only had to look at the fact that she didn't go to tournaments in person for proof, made people suspicious of MagicAmy's sudden withdrawal. And so people started digging some more, as internet sleuths tend to do. What they found was that there seemed to be an overlap between two online handles, one of which belongs to a man named William Blaney. The Daily Dot looked into these claims further, finding the following: https://twitter.com/tempomagicamy
While it is not unusual for couples to sometimes share accounts online -- Netflix, for example -- given the allegations surrounding MagicAmy, these findings seemed suspect to some. But, again, it's important to remember that the entire thing that got people riled up was, and I quote, "conjecture." People were on a witch hunt, and the evidence was circumstantial at best.
Making matters worse was the fact that some other Hearthstone players started making claims about MagicAmy's trustworthiness: https://twitter.com/TempoMagicamy
Neither of these actually proves that MagicAmy is not a woman with lots of skill in Hearthstone, but they did give people reason to be wary of MagicAmy -- and this made it easier for some to distrust that MagicAmy was who she claimed to be.
People even started picking apart the way that MagicAmy played games online -- here's a player called Kripparrian skewering MagicAmy because "she was looking very very bored during a pretty intense match-up, probably because she wasn't actually playing, she just turned the camera on and told some dude to play for her."
Eventually this entire thing bubbled up so much that the team that MagicAmy belonged to, Tempo Storm, started looking into the matter. After some investigation, Tempo Storm has cleared Magic Amy of their suspicion:
We believe that MagicAmy is one person and that Hyerim Lee is indeed who she claims to be. This is based on multiple eyewitness and firsthand testimonies claiming that they interacted with her individually without William Blaney, her ex-boyfriend seen in cached pictures sharing the same username. We went through great lengths to cross reference travel records, personal information, and testimonies of accounts from her recent past. The personal information she has given us, combined with her employment records with Lunarch Studios, relationships with players, and the fact that she has met people face-to-face is enough to confirm her identity.
They also noted that the drama surrounding MagicAmy didn't really make sense:
As a final point, we asked ourselves throughout the entire investigation "If she/he is a fraud, what is the end game?" because eventually the MagicAmy persona would have had to show up at an offline event as Hearthstone/Tempo Storm continued to grow. It made no logical sense to move from her homegrown team, which collectively placed top 8 at BlizzCon, to work extremely hard with our organisation to get results, then "dash" when she's getting paid for the good work she's done. That would be the worst con of all time.
Tempo Storm says that they "offered to fully support MagicAmy in an attempt to clear her name," but that Lee decided that she was going to leave the Hearthstone scene, at least temporarily.
"During the six week period which Hyerim was signed with us, we greatly appreciated her effort and camaraderie with the team," Tempo Storm said. "We have nothing but glowing reviews of all the work she put in from watching her cheer along with fans in chat to publishing her renown Meta Snapshots. She has been an ideal team member with Tempo Storm during her short stay and we wish her the best of luck in the future."
Lee also had nothing but good things to say about Tempo Storm, based on her statement on the situation:
I want to thank Tempo Storm, Reynad, and Frodan for giving me the opportunity to join the team and allowing me to explain myself among the chaos. I am happy that I was given a chance to prove myself to the people that I cared for. Tempo Storm has been supportive of me since the beginning and I am glad we can end on good terms.
Truthfully, a lot about this situation feels uncomfortable -- a woman has been driven out of the Hearthstone community, over seemingly flimsy accusations. The undercurrent falls in-line with some of the shittier parts of gaming culture, where some people can't help but call into question the legitimacy of women gamers. You see it in the way people talk about MagicAmy in the first place. The Daily Dot, for example, said that MagicAmy seemed to "come out of nowhere." It seems easier to believe that a woman is tricking everyone, and that this explains her sudden rise to fame, than it does to believe that she might actually just be a good Hearthstone player.
For now it's worth noting that while we personally cannot actually prove that MagicAmy is who she says she is, we have reached out to Hyerim Lee, and will update this post should we hear back.