Friday, 22 November, 2019

Blizzard Entertainment Bans Professional Gamer for Supporting Hong Kong Protestors

A screenshot from the game Hearthstone A screenshot from the game Hearthstone
Emmett Howard | 09 October, 2019, 02:53

Activision Blizzard on Tuesday kicked a video game player out of a professional esports tournament after he voiced support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, becoming the latest US business moving to head off potential conflict with the Chinese government.

"Upon further review we have found the action has violated the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules section 6.1 (o) and is individual behaviour which does not represent Blizzard or Hearthstone esports", the developer wrote. Blizzard also announced they will no longer work with the two Taiwanese streamers who interviewed the esports player on Twitch.

Understandably, a good portion of the /r/Hearthstone subreddit (and Reddit in general) are upset at Blizzard's decision; discussion of the Hearthstone Hong Kong controversy has taken up the #1 and #2 spots on /r/all, a metareddit that tracks the most popular posts on the site.

Blizzard chose to ban Hong Kong-based professional gamer Chung Ng Wai, who plays under the name "Blitzchung", after its Asia-Pacific Grandmasters tournament Monday. My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention.

Blizzard insisted that it supported the "right to express individual thoughts and opinions", but also said that players have to "abide by the official competition rules". I know what my action on stream means. "But I think it's my duty to say something about the issue".

"Effective immediately, Blitzchung is removed from Grandmasters and will receive no prizing for Grandmasters Season 2", Blizzard said in a statement. What would Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast do if China threatens to ban MTG in China and Hong Kong?

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We have asked Blizzard precisely which part of that rule it decided that Chung had broken, and if any representatives of the Chinese government had actually complained.

Regardless of this situation, TheSixthAxis stands with the people of Hong Kong. It also has stakes in video game companies like Ubisoft, Epic and Riot Games among others.

Santa Monica-based Activision Blizzard joins a number of global companies finding themselves embroiled in controversy around free speech linked to China. His camera feed revealed that he was wearing a gasmask and goggles, a nod to the current protests taking place in his native Hong Kong.

Tech giant Tencent and Chinese state television said they wouldn't broadcast Rockets games.

Everyone involved - the National Basketball Association, the Rockets, Morey himself, and even Rockets players - have had to apologize and distance themselves from that seven-word tweet. The NBA responded with a groveling statement recognizing that Morey's comments "deeply offended" people in China, stating that Morey's words don't reflect the views of the NBA or the Rockets and adding that the NBA had "great respect for the history and culture of China".

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