Blizzard faces backlash for firing casters and banning Hearthstone player over Hong Kong support

One of the biggest stories in the world right now is the Hong Kong protests which are seeing a lot of intense crackdown from police and security forces, with the Chinese backed government regularly accused of using excessive force and underhand tactics against the pro-democracy activists.

The protests originated under a controversial law that would have seen people arrested in Hong Kong extradited to the mainland for trial. Understandably it is a topic that a lot of people have varying opinions about, including professional casters and streamers.

Over the weekend streamer Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, a Hong Kong native, expressed support for the protests following a Hearthstone Grandmasters event, with the casters present letting him express his sentiment, but trying to disassociate themselves by literally hiding under their table and hastily cutting to adverts. Due to this Blizzard has taken the immediate action of firing the two casters, reducing the prize pot to $0 and suspending Blitzchung for a year. Blizzard cited a breach of competition rules and you can read the company’s statement below.

During the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters broadcast over the weekend there was a competition rule violation during a post-match interview, involving Blitzchung and two casters, which resulted in the removal of the match VOD replay.

Upon further review we have found the action has violated the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules section 6.1 (o) and is individual behavior which does not represent Blizzard or Hearthstone Esports. 6.1 (o) is found below.

2019 HEARTHSTONE® GRANDMASTERS OFFICIAL COMPETITION RULES v1.4   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. 

Grandmasters is the highest tier of Hearthstone Esports and we take tournament rule violations very seriously. After an investigation, we are taking the necessary actions to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

Effective immediately, Blitzchung is removed from Grandmasters and will receive no prizing for Grandmasters Season 2. Additionally, Blitzchung is ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020. We will also immediately cease working with both casters.

We’d like to re-emphasize tournament and player conduct within the Hearthstone esports community from both players and talent. While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules.

The ruling seems to be that in making a political statement and expressing his individual thoughts and opinions, Blitzchung has offended the Chinese population and damaged Blizzard’s standing in China, a massive market for the company. As you can imagine Blizzard has been facing a lot of criticism for its actions. Users on Reddit have called for boycotts with some users cancelling subscriptions to Blizzard’s games. Some users have also taken to claim that in Taiwan players are forbidden from using the Taiwanese flag on Blizzard games due to pressure from China. On Twitter a number of users are expressing similar sentiments and stating withdrawal of support for the company.

Regardless of this situation, TheSixthAxis stands with the people of Hong Kong.

Source: Reddit

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From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.

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