An official Blizzard interview with a Hong Kong-based professional Hearthstone player has been taken offline after the player expressed his support for the protests in Hong Kong. InvenGlobal reported that Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung expressed his support while being interviewed by the Official Taiwanese Hearthstone organization following his win against DawN.
During the interview, Chung wore a mask on camera in reference to the government-issued ban on wearing face masks while protesting in the recent riots. Chung then later shouted “liberate Hong Kon, revolution of our age” which caused the stream to be cut to a commercial break.
— ? Inven Global ? (@InvenGlobal) October 6, 2019
Chung issued a statement saying
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#8CF808″ class=”” size=”19″]“As you know there are serious protests in my country now. My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention… It could cause me a lot of trouble, even my personal safety in real life. But I think it’s my duty to say something about the issue.”[/perfectpullquote]
Following the interview, Blizzard announced that Chung was in violation of the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmaster Official Competition rules and that he will be removed from the Grandmasters and will not receive the prize money for his performance up to that point. The studio also announced he has been banned from Hearthstone esports for 12 months starting on 5 October 2019 and both casters which interviewed him have also lost their contracts.
Even with the ban and the loss of prize money, Chung says he does not regret what he said during the stream. However, it has sparked a mass movement #BoycottBlizzard due to many believing the company’s decision was off-putting. Fans on the r/Hearthstone subreddit have claimed to be quitting the game to show support for the pro player. Blizzard has since gone and locked down the r/Blizzard subreddit in response to the discussions.
Big gaming personalities are also speaking out about the situation with many of them cancelling their World of Warcraft subscriptions and refunding Blizzard games.
Fans are not the only people pushing the movement with two United States senators stepping in to share in the disappointment. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden posted on Twitter saying;
Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck. https://t.co/rJBeXUiwYS
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) October 8, 2019
Florida Senator Marco Rubio also voices his opinion saying;
Recognize what’s happening here. People who don’t live in #China must either self censor or face dismissal & suspensions. China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in U.S. politics today is gone. https://t.co/Cx3tkWc7r6
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 8, 2019
This Blizzard boycott is developing and we will keep you updated if anything comes out of it.