Heartstone Twitch viewers were reportedly being banned from chat after posting pro-Hong Kong sentiments this past weekend, though Blizzard since said that information isn’t accurate.
Dot Esports lead the charge, reporting that viewers were being banned for typing “Free Hong Kong” in the official Heartstone Twitch channel’s chat during the Heartstone Masters Tour in Bucharest, Romania. The account’s channel has been operating in Follower’s-Only mode during the tournament, which allows its moderators the opportunity to accept messages from those who’ve been following the channel for at least two days prior.
Blizzard has told Polygon that those who are able to chat — and have subsequently been banned after posting — were banned because they’ve been spamming the chat, not simply posting pro-Hong Kong statements.
“We are not banning people from Twitch chat for specifically using pro Hong Kong speech or any other political statements,” a Blizzard representative told Polygon. “Bans are being levied by an automated moderating system that’s triggered by viewers spamming any phrase repeatedly. We expect to have the issue corrected in the next few hours.”
The Bucharest tournament should wrap up today.
This incident is the latest in a series involving Hearthstone and pro-Hong Kong messaging. Pro player Ng Wai ‘blitzchung’ Chung was first banned for a 12 month period after shouting, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” in a livestream, while an American University team was eventually banned for six months — the same time as blitzchung’s amended suspension — after a similar incident. Meanwhie, Blizzard has stated that “China had no influence” on its decisions.