Blizzard Receives Major Backlash after Banning a Hearthstone Player
On Sunday, Hearthstone player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung was interviewed after a Grandmasters match. At the end of the interview, he covered his face with a Hong Kong protester-style mask and said, “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” Afterward, the interviewers hid under the table briefly, and the stream cut to a commercial break.
Due to the incident, Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind Hearthstone, has banned Blitzchung from participating in tournaments one year, effective on October 5th. Blizzard has also withheld any prize money the player could have earned.
A few hours after the incident, Blizzard published a statement, “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.” This decision has received major backlash from people including many US senators.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said in a tweet on Tuesday, “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.”
There appears to be internal dissent at the company as well. Values like “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters” that are displayed at Blizzard offices have been covered with paper.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, “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.”