By Cody Perez
October 8, 2019
Blizzard has issued a statement officially removing Hearthstone Grandmasters pro player Blitzchung from the league. Not only that, but Blizzard will be revoking any prize earnings he would have gotten from season two of the league and also announced that Blitzchung is banned from esports participation in the card game for a period of time.
The reason behind this decision comes from a recent interview that Blitzchung participated in. Ng Wai “Blitzchung” Chung is a Hong Kong-based pro player who recently interviewed with official Taiwanese Hearthstone organization InvenGlobal as reported by IGN.
The interview took place following the win that Blitzchung had against South Korean pro player Jang “DawN” Hyun Jae on October 6 earlier this week. While the interview was taking place, Chung was seen wearing a mask on his face on camera, which is currently banned by the government while protesting.
Protestors have been wearing masks on their faces in order to keep their identities secret from the government. If that weren’t enough to showcase the Hong Kong player’s support for the protestors, he stated later on in the interview his direct support for the protestors.
“Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age,” Blitzchung said on camera. The stream of this was brought to a commercial break shortly after his words live. In addition, it is rather difficult to find videos of the match and interview with the player currently online.
The pro player further emphasized his stance in an official statement to the organization InvenGlobal. In the statement, he noted that he was doing what he did as his “participation” in the protest. This was done to grab more attention for the events happening in Hong Kong and he accepted the risks involved.
Those risks certainly came up as Blizzard is now removing the player from the Grandmasters league and cutting ties with the two broadcasters who were also on the stream at the time. Directly from Blizzard, it appears that the company states that Chung was in direct violation of the official rules.
Section 6.1 reads as follows: “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’s] 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.”
And that is exactly what happened as Chung will not receive any prize earnings from season two as well. The actions of Blizzard were swiftly met with controversy and disdain from the community. The subreddit for Blizzard, in particular, is currently inaccessible likely due to the response from the community.
As the final punishment for Chung regarding this whole situation, he will be unable to participate in any official Hearthstone esports competitions or the like for an entire year. Blitzchung will be banned from October 5, 2019 until a year from now on October 5, 2020.
Blizzard closed out its statement regarding the circumstances by noting that it would like to re-emphasize the player conduct within the esports community. It does “stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions” but the players who choose to participate in the official competitions must abide by the rules.
This whole situation was prompted by the recent events in Hong Kong where protests have been ongoing since earlier this year. The protests began in opposition to laws that would allow the Chinese government to extradite residents of Hong Kong for judiciary reasons.
Though the city government has already backed down from the plans, protests are continuing as some are calling for liberation like Chung. This is far from the first controversy of this sort surrounding the circumstances as Chinese corporation Tencent recently cut ties with the NBA due to comments in support of protesters from a Houston Rockets executive.
It is worth noting that Tencent has a five percent stake in Activision Blizzard, the publisher behind the popular card game Hearthstone who recently determined Blitzchung would be banned. For more on this developing situation and the community’s response to it, be sure to stay tuned right here.