Last Sunday, Hong Kong Hearthstone player Ng "blitzchung" Wai Chung caused quite the stir. As reported by Inven Global, Blitzchung appeared on the official Hearthstone Taiwan stream after his Grandmasters match wearing a gas mask, before shouting "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!" in protest against China's actions in the region.
Blizzard has released a statement about the incident, and they're not happy with Blitzchung's action. He's receiving no prize money for Grandmasters Season 2, has been removed from the league and has received a competitive ban for one year. Blizzard will also not work with the two casters in the video anymore. The full statement can be read below:
"During the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters broadcast over the weekend there was a competition rule violation during a post-match interview, involving Blitzchung and two casters, which resulted in the removal of the match VOD replay.
Upon further review we have found the action has violated the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules section 6.1 (o) and is individual behavior which does not represent Blizzard or Hearthstone Esports. 6.1 (o) is found below.
2019 HEARTHSTONE® GRANDMASTERS OFFICIAL COMPETITION RULES v1.4 p.12, Section 6.1 (o)
Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.
Grandmasters is the highest tier of Hearthstone Esports and we take tournament rule violations very seriously. After an investigation, we are taking the necessary actions to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
Effective immediately, Blitzchung is removed from Grandmasters and will receive no prizing for Grandmasters Season 2. Additionally, Blitzchung is ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020. We will also immediately cease working with both casters.
We’d like to re-emphasize tournament and player conduct within the Hearthstone esports community from both players and talent. While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules."
The decision to punish the casters who also appear in the VOD may seem strange, but community member Chua Zhihong has explained what transpired:
Community responses: "Blizzard is caving to China"
Blitzchung's case received a lot of attention on social media. People were especially interested in Blizzard's decision given that the company is partially owned by Chinese investors. In the United States companies and instances with Chinese investors have been scrutinized a lot, as people say they're "caving" to the country's politics. The most recent example is the NBA, the official baskteball association of the United States, which received harsh criticism. Daryl Morey, General Manager of the Houston Rockets, had posted a Tweet supporting Hong Kong. This was quickly taken down, after which several NBA stars released a statement saying how much they "love China."
On Twitter, people are disappointed in Blizzard's decision as well. Here, too, the "appealing to China" card is being played.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.