Blizzard Faces Major Backlash After Banning Hong Kong Hearthstone Player
Blizzard faces major internet backlash after making a public decision to ban Hong Kong resident and professional Hearthstone player, Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai. Following a match during the Grandmasters Asia Pacific competition, Chung spoke out against the political events occurring in Hong Kong. Sporting a gas mask – an item that’s become a symbol of the vehement protests in said country – the Hearthstone pro declared during a livestream post-match interview: “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!”
The original interview during the competition has since been deleted, but the momentous clip has since been immortalized by netizens. See below:
— 🎃 Inven Global 🎃 (@InvenGlobal) October 6, 2019
Following his declaration of protest, Blizzard immediately removed Chung from the Grandmasters competition, seized the entirety of the prize money and banned him from participating in professional competition for an entire year. According to a formal announcement from Blizzard, his actions violated the “2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules section 6.1” and called for swift action. Their statement is as follows:
Breaking: Effective immediately, Blizzard has removed Hong Kong Hearthstone player blitzchung from Hearthstone Grand Masters, rescinded all his prize money, and have suspended him from pro play for one year for his recent interview.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 8, 2019
The protests in Hong Kong have raged on for months now and neither party show signs of backing down. It’s a complex political issue between mainland China and Hong Kong, where people across the world are protesting for the rights to speak out against the proposed legislation and the legislation itself. Seeing as Tencent is a significantly influential stakeholder of Activision Blizzard, there’s reason to walk on eggshells right now. Despite the consequences, Chung is determined to stand for Hong Kong:
“As you know there are serious protests in my country now. My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention,” the Hearthstone professional said in a statement. “I put so much effort in that social movement in the past few months, that I sometimes couldn’t focus on preparing my Grandmaster match. I know what my action on stream means. It could cause me lot of trouble, even my personal safety in real life. But I think it’s my duty to say something about the issue.”
Since their decision to remove Chung from the Grandmasters tournament, the trending hashtag #BoycottBlizzard is on the rise. It calls attention Blizzard’s move in silencing a player for political protest and that’s a big “yikes.” It seems that Blizzard has gone silent for the time being, but the community is looking for answers.
This is a politically loaded move by Blizzard – do you think they made the right move to ban Chung, or should they played a more neutral role? Do you think Chung’s decision to protest publicly violated the rules? Let us know what you think in the comments section below or start a conversation on Don’t Feed the Gamers Facebook page. To stay up to date on gaming and entertainment news as it happens, follow us on Twitter! Here are some of our latest:
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Hoi is an elusive figure at DFTG, whose favorite past-times include chillin' in the Fade, reading manga, watching anime, collecting novelty items, and gaming.