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A professional “Hearthstone” player was pulled from a tournament and placed on a year ban by Blizzard after he expressed his support for the ongoing Hong Kong protests.
During an interview after the Grandmasters match on Sunday, Hong Kong professional “Hearthstone” player Blitzchung, whose real name is Ng Wai Chung, appeared in front of the camera wearing a gas mask worn by protesters in Hong Kong, according to The Verge.
— 🎃 Inven Global 🎃 (@InvenGlobal) October 6, 2019
“Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” he said in the interview before the stream suddenly cut to a commercial break.
Blizzard, the publisher of “Hearthstone,” issued a statement hours after the event, reminding that players must follow the competition’s official rules.
“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 company wrote.
Blizzard added it will withhold the prize money Blitzchung won at the tournament and place a 12-month ban on the professional player effective Oct. 5.
The company also terminated the contracts of the two casters who interviewed the player.
Breaking: Effective immediately, Blizzard has removed Hong Kong Hearthstone player blitzchung from Hearthstone Grand Masters, rescinded all his prize money, and have suspended him from pro play for one year for his recent interview.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 8, 2019
Immutable, formerly Fuel Games, the developer of rival card game “Gods Unchained,” announced its full support of Blitzchung and said it will pay “all of his lost winnings.”
It will also send him an invite for a $500,000 tournament, CNET reported.
.@Blizzard_Ent just banned @blitzchungHS and stripped his Hearthstone winnings because they care about money more than freedom. We will pay for ALL his lost winnings and a ticket to our $500k tournament: no player should be punished for their beliefs. #freegaming https://t.co/ONvtkG4x9G
— Gods Unchained (@GodsUnchained) October 8, 2019
All videos on demand pertaining to Blitzchung’s support for the Hong Kong protest have been removed.
The bannning by Blizzard has since been condemned by U.S. politicians Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden:
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. https://t.co/Cx3tkWc7r6
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 8, 2019
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. https://t.co/rJBeXUiwYS
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) October 8, 2019
Additionally, eSports commentator and former Blizzard employee Kevin Hovdestad:
Not everyone at Blizzard agrees with what happened.
Both the "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters" values have been covered up by incensed employees this morning. pic.twitter.com/I7nAYUes6Q
— Kevin Hovdestad (@lackofrealism) October 8, 2019
Featured Image via Twitter / blitzchungHS