This is Niche Culture. In this column, we regularly cover anime, geek culture, and things related to video games. Please leave feedback and let us know if there’s something you want us to cover!
Mitsubishi have confirmed they pulled sponsorship from the Hearthstone Asia Pacific Tournament.
On October 12th, Reddit user “Baelrog” of r/Hearthstone noticed that backdrop to the caster’s booth of the Hearthstone Asia Pacific Tournament had removed references to Mitsubishi, one of the tournament’s sponsors.
Baelrog and others in the thread speculated if Mitsubishi had pulled their sponsorship due to the Blitzchung incident. For those unaware, Blizzard Entertainment have been in hot water since their suspension of pro-Hearthstone player Blitzchung for his support of the Hong Kong protests, and their overall handing of the entire debacle.
Blizzard finally released a statement, revealing they had returned Blitzchung’s confiscated prize money and reduced his suspension time. The statement also claimed that “relationships in China had no influence on our decision” (We recently looked into Blizzard’s financials to see if that was the case).
A Mitsubishi spokesperson Erica Rasch issued a statement to The Daily Beast on October 30th, revealing that Mitsubishi Motors Taiwan had pulled its sponsorship for all Blizzard esport events two days after Blitzchung was banned. The company declined any further comments.
While the Daily Beast has attempted to contact Blizzard and two other sponsors involved with the collegiate Hearthstone tournament (where a team conducted a similar protest, and were only banned after pointing out the hypocrisy of not being banned), none have issued a statement thus far.
Others have also attempted to contact Blizzard for a statement, but to no avail.
We will continue our own investigation and inquiries, and keep you informed as we learn more.