Blizzard Suspends Hearthstone Player For Voicing Support of Hong Kong Protests [Update]

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Update: Chung responded to USgamer’s request for comment today, saying he did not have time to talk in detail due to an influx of media requests. He did tell us, when asked if he would continue casually playing Hearthstone: “I don’t know if I’ll keep playing. Probably not.”

The original story follows:

Following his match over the weekend in Hearthstone Grandmasters, Hong Kong player Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung appeared on stream with to chat with two broadcasters. Wearing a gas mask, Chung advocated for the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, leading to the deletion of the VOD and now, his suspension from competitive Hearthstone play by Blizzard itself.

While Blizzard Taiwan’s record of the post-game interview has been deleted, videos like those posted by InvenGlobal still persist. In it, according to Inven’s translation, Chung says, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age.” Both broadcasters who were interviewing him at the time hid behind the desk to avoid being associated with Chung’s statement.

After scrubbing the match and post-match interview from the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters archives, Blizzard released a competitive ruling last night, removing Chung from Grandmasters, rescinding his potential earnings, and handing him a 12-month suspension from competitive Hearthstone. Blizzard is also severing ties with the two commentators shown in the video.

Citing a ruling from Section 6.1 of the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters rulebook, Blizzard writes that “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” can result in removal from Grandmasters.

“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,” wrote Blizzard in Chung’s competitive ruling.

We’re reached out to Chung for comment about what his next steps are. Speaking to IGN, Chung says he expected the decision by Blizzard. “I think it’s unfair, but I do respect their decision,” Chung says. “I’m not [regretful] of what I said.”

The Hong Kong protests started when a bill was introduced that would allow extradition of Hong Kong residents to China, and has since expanded to greater tensions between Hong Kong and China.

Response from the Hearthstone community has been vocal. The front page of the Hearthstone subreddit and the official Hearthstone forum are filled with posts angry at Blizzard’s stance on the matter, with some saying they’ll uninstall the game and over the issue. It’s eerily similar to recent flare-ups in the NBA over Houston GM Daryl Morey tweeting his support of the Hong Kong protestors, and seems to be drawing the same sort of ire from its fans.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment, USG.

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