Before Blizzard indicated it was re-examining its decision to suspend a pro Hearthstone player for making a pro-Hong Kong statement, a Blizzard account on Chinese social media issued a hardline pro-China stance on the situation. The account, operated by Blizzard’s Chinese partner NetEase, said the company will protect its “national dignity.”
On October 8, Blizzard suspended Hong Kong player Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung for 12 months after Chung made a pro-Hong Kong statement during a live Hearthstone Grandmasters post-match interview. Blizzard’s initial statement contended that Chung’s statement violated part of the company’s official esports rulebook, which prohibits “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.” On October 9, in the wake of mounting protest efforts, a Blizzard spokesperson said the company is “assessing the situation.”
Today, IGN obtained a translated version of a statement posted on October 8 to Blizzard’s official account on the Chinese social media service Weibo. The translated statement follows:
We express our strong indignation [or resentment] and condemnation of the events that occurred in the Hearthstone Asia Pacific competition last weekend and absolutely oppose the dissemination of personal political ideas during any events [or games]. The players involved will be banned, and the commentators involved will be immediately terminated from any official business. Also, we will protect [or safeguard] our national dignity [or honor].
Whereas Blizzard’s English language statement did not engage with the nature of the ongoing Hong Kong protests, the Weibo statement’s reference to “national dignity” can be taken to be pro-mainland China. NetEase, Blizzard’s regional publishing partner and the operator of the Weibo account, is based in the mainland city Guangzhou.
While Blizzard has quietly assessed the international incident it created for itself, Blizzard employees, other Hearthstone players, and at least one professional caster have taken steps in protest against Chung’s suspension.
Online, the backlash to Blizzard’s decision is still passionate. The hashtag #BoycottBlizzard remains highly active on Twitter and the frontpage of r/Hearthstone is filled with posts criticizing Blizzard’s decision and following near-silence on the matter.