Blizzard has issued a statement insisting that “China had no influence” over the suspension it has placed upon Ng Wai ‘blitzchung’ Chung, also detailing that the suspension was halved from 12 months to just six months. Moreover, Blizzard has confirmed that blitzchung will be able to access the prize money he won during the recent Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament.
The pro player was originally suspended for a full year and lost access to his current season’s prize money after shouting, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” in a livestream.
“Over the weekend, Blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong—in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action,” said President of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, in a statement.
“Every Voice Matters, and we strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the many places available to express themselves. However, the official broadcast needs to be about the tournament and to be a place where all are welcome. In support of that, we want to keep the official channels focused on the game.”
Brack then specified that China had nothing to do with Blizzard’s decision.
“The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were not a factor in the decision we made,” according to Brack. “I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision. We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took.
“If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.
“We want to ensure that we maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all our players, and that our rules and processes are clear. All of this is in service of another important Blizzard value—Play Nice; Play Fair.
“In the tournament itself Blitzchung *played* fair. We now believe he should receive his prizing. We understand that for some this is not about the prize, and perhaps for others it is disrespectful to even discuss it. That is not our intention. But playing fair also includes appropriate pre-and post-match conduct, especially when a player accepts recognition for winning in a broadcast.
“When we think about the suspension, six months for Blitzchung is more appropriate, after which time he can compete in the Hearthstone pro circuit again if he so chooses. There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast.”
Brack did not detail why a Hearthstone team from American University was not punished for similar pro-Hong Kong sentiment on a livestream. Said team has forfeit the rest of an ongoing tournament in solidarity with blitzchung.
Following Brack’s statement, blitzchung himself responded.
“To be honest, I think six months is still quite a lot to me,” Chung said. “But I [am] also being told that I can continue to compete in the hearthstone pro circuit which they mean the grandmaster tournament. I appreciate for this decision they made because grandmaster is currently the highest level tournament in competitive hearthstone. However, I wish Blizzard can reconsider about their penalty on the two casters involved.”
What do you make of J. Allan Brack’s comments and Blizzard’s actions as a whole?