Over the weekend, professional Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai shared his support of protests in Hong Kong during a post-match interview at Hearthstone’s Asia-Pacific Grandmaster tournament.
During the livestreamed interview, he said, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time.” He also put on a gas mask during the interview, which has been removed from YouTube and Twitch. It is still available, however, via screen recordings on Twitter.
— 🎃 Inven Global 🎃 (@InvenGlobal) October 6, 2019
In response, Blizzard issued a formal ruling yesterday on the Hearthstone site, announcing that Blizchung will be removed from Grandmasters, will not receive prizing for the tournament, and will be ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months.
“Grandmasters is the highest tier of Hearthstone Esports and we take tournament rule violations very seriously,” the ruling says. “After an investigation, we are taking the necessary actions to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”
Blizzard also says it will stop working with the two broadcasters who were interviewing Blizchung at the time of this statement. According to Blizzard, the political statement violated a section of the Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules, which state that:
“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.”
Online, there has been some fan backlash in response to the ruling. Comments were disabled on the post itself, but #BoycottBlizzard became a trending tag on Twitter, with more than 2,000 tweets at the time of publication. Many gamers using the hashtag claim that they will no longer play games published by Blizzard, including titles such as World of Warcraft and Overwatch.