Blizzard has applied the banhammer on an Hearthstone eSport player after saying something on a broadcast that referred to the Hong Kong protests that have been going for nearly half a year now.
On Sunday, Ng „Blitzchung” Wai Chung was interviewed after a Grandmasters match (which is effectively the top echelon of Hearthstone’s eSport). InvenGlobal reports that after the match, he took off his mask (which is another sign of the protests happening in Hong Kong – he is also from there), then he said „Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!”, which was followed by a quick cut to an advertisement (which is usually what the Chinese media does: if a foreign channel broadcasts something sensitive, the channel gets blacked out for that part of the broadcast…).
Blizzard – fearing their Chinese relations, such as NetEase, with whom they develop the mobile Diablo: Immortal… – issued a statement, in which they say Blitzchung has had a rule violation of the competition’s rules, which is why he is banned for a year starting from October 5 from all Hearthstone tournaments, he is eliminated from Grandmasters, plus all his earnings during its second season is taken away. Here’s what the quoted rule says that resulted in his penalty: „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.” The two broadcasters were also fired, who, according to this tweet, encouraged him in Mandarin Chinese (mainland language) to say the eight words (which he did), and then, they hid under the desk, seen on the video. „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,” Blizzard says in its statement.
„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. 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 a lot of trouble, even my safety in real life. But I think I must say something about the issue,” Blitzchung’s statement reads.
Recently, multiple US organizations tried to limit the support of the Hong Kong protests. Earlier this week, Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey wrote a tweet in the protests’ support, then deleted it, followed by an apology, and then, the NBA called the case regrettable. However, Adam Silver, the commissioner of NBA, backed out of this approach with a statement: „[…] The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way. […]”.
Chinese influence can be felt. Oh, they retailated by announcing that CCTV’s sports channel (the state-run central television) will suspend broadcasting the NBA’s matches…
— 🎃 Inven Global 🎃 (@InvenGlobal) October 6, 2019
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