The Hearthstone Grandmasters is taking place currently, but the event isn’t making news for the reasons we might normally expect. Normally, fans of the game would be entertained with stories of outstanding plays and close wins. But, this morning, instead of that, the gaming community is calling for a boycott of Blizzard following their decision to remove a player from the tournament and deny him the money for his performance.

This action followed a tournament interview with the player in question — Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung — where he shouted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” while wearing a mask on camera. The mask is similar to the ones worn by protesters in ongoing Hong Kong protests in an effort to conceal their identities.

As you can see in the tweet above, the stream cut to commercial immediately after the statement, returning after with just the hosts.

According to Blizzard, Chung was found to be in violation of one of the Hearthstone tournament rules of player conduct — specifically the one that addresses players doing something deemed offensive.

P. 12, Section 6.1 (o)

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 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.

Reportedly, Blizzard also followed up Chung’s 12-month suspension by firing the two casters seen in the video above. As noted by esports consultant Rod Breslau who’s been tracking the whole thing on Twitter, the casters weren’t (to anyone’s knowledge) aware of what was going to happen.

It also appears Blizzard isn’t taking any criticism on their decision as they elected to disable comments on the post announcing their decision to ban Chung.

As a result of these moves, players of Blizzard’s games are now calling for a boycott of the company and all its properties. Throughout the morning, World of Warcraft players have been posting images showing they’d canceled their subscriptions.

In some ways, Blizzard’s decision — while incredibly disappointing — is not surprising. Like many western-based video game companies, Blizzard is financially tied to Tencent in an ongoing effort to make the most of the Chinese market. Part of the Chinese company’s job when dealing with western companies is to assure they comply with the various requirements set by the Chinese government. Otherwise, the company in question will be barred from doing business in the country.

With the copious ties Tencent has to western companies, and the growing reliance of those companies on the Chinese market, it may be that we’ll see more of this from other developers in the future.

QuintLyn is a long-time lover of all things video game related will happily talk about them to anyone that will listen. She began writing about games for various hobby sites a little over ten years ago and has taken on various roles in the games community. For the past five years she's been a writer at Gamebreaker TV.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Blizzard made the right decision. The interview was about the game not to be used as a political platform. Imagine if he did said “Send in the Chinese army to take Hong Kong back” and Blizzard didn’t take action the world would then be against Blizzard also…. So basically the world just likes to side against China. Blizzard is only in the wrong if they aren’t siding against China.

    If they did not punish him then other people would start using gaming tournaments to express political views.

    I’m not a fan of Blizzard but they made the right decision. Has nothing to do with tencent or any other company. Anyone expressing political views should be banned.

    If he said “Trump is the worst president ever” – should be banned
    If he said “Trump is the best president ever” – Should be banned.

    • Nice use of strawman, shill. Blizzard’s closing of comments sections, firing of casters, and pledge to defend “defend the pride” of China shows this goes is far beyond enforcing a rules violation. But don’t let those pesky details stop you from licking communist boots.

      • They fired the casters because the casters clearly knew it was coming hence why they ducked under the table. They also clapped afterwards which shows encouragement.

        It is very simple… If you’re a gamer… talk about the game during the interview. Don’t use that opportunity as a stage to express political views.. If he wants to do that he has social media among many other things.

        I don’t understand what you don’t get about this situation?
        so if he expressed views in support of China to crush the uprising in Hong Kong and Blizzard banned him are you saying you would also be angry at Blizzard for banning him for his political views? I didn’t think so. You’re just being biased. I like to see things from all points of view.

        • Blizzard would not have banned him if he expressed support of China. They have a financial incentive to avoid anything that would offend the Chinese government, else get shut out of the massive Chinese market as this article and many others have pointed out. Blizzard’s official statement on Wiebo, “We will always respect and defend the pride of [China],” as pointed out by Rod Breslau shows that they are not taking a politically neutral position.

          “You’re just being biased.” Cry me a river. Damn right I’m biased against China. I’m biased against any totalitarian tin horn government that demands absolute obedience from foreign companies that do business with them (Blizzard, NBA, Apple, VANS, etc.) and coerces them to impose their authoritarianism on foreign countries and I’m against any company that willingly participates in this. It sets a terrible precedent that no sane country with any desire for self-preservation should ever tolerate. I wouldn’t ever expect the Chinese to accept it in vice-versa.

          • Blizzard would not have banned him if he expressed support of China. They have a financial incentive to avoid anything that would offend the Chinese government, else get shut out of the massive Chinese market as this article and many others have pointed out. Blizzard’s official statement on Wiebo, “We will always respect and defend the pride of [China],” as pointed out by Rod Breslau shows that they are not taking a politically neutral position and they are not the only company to recently engage

            “You’re just being biased.” Cry me a river. You’re darn tootin’ I’m biased against China. I’m biased against any totalitarian tin horn government that demands absolute obedience from foreign companies that do business with them (Blizzard, NBA, Apple, VANS, etc.) and coerces them to impose their authoritarianism on foreign countries and I’m against any company that willingly participates in this. It sets a terrible precedent that no sane country with any desire for self-preservation should ever tolerate. I wouldn’t ever expect the Chinese to accept it in vice-versa.

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