There has been further fallout and growing anger over the past 24-hours over Blizzard’s decision to ban Hearthstone Grandmasters Tournament player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai over comments he made regarding the demonstrations in Hong Kong following a Hearthstone match at the tournament.
Chung’s actions, which saw him wear goggles and a face mask before stating “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time”, saw him receive a hefty punishment from Blizzard as we reported yesterday. Blizzard were criticised for the length and severity of the ban (a significant forfeit of earnings, plus a year’s ban) as soon as their statement went public.
However, the fallout from the matter has continued. Yesterday, a number of Blizzard employees walked out to protest their company’s decision to ban the player, gathering around the statue at the heart of the Blizzard complex to demonstrate.
Additionally, one of the most recognisable telecasters for Hearthstone, Brian Kibler, who was due to commentate at BlizzCon in November, has pulled out of commentating at the Grandmasters Finals, Blizzcon and future Blizzard events following the punishment handed to Chung.
“The punishment meted out to Blitzchung is incredibly harsh,” stated Kibler on Wednesday.
“I could understand a fine or even a short suspension from competitive play, but removal from Grandmasters, clawing back the prizes he’s already earned and banning him for a full year seems completely overboard to an extent that feels completely unwarranted and unfair.”
Kibler also stated in his announcement that he was cutting ties with telecasting Blizzard events, that the harshness of the punishment
“feels like someone insisted that Blizzard make an example of Blitzchung” and that he could not “in good conscience” be a “smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision”.
Fan Art Protests
In addition to a Hearthstone Reddit feed being awash with fans angry at Blizzard’s decision and stating that they are going to boycott a number of Blizzard games, fans have also been using art to demonstrate their feelings.
Several have used a character Mei, from the popular Overwatch game, as the basis for a protest in the form of videos, pictures and hashtags. Mei often being depicted wearing goggles and a mask in these posts.
Furthermore, a Hearthstone Collegiate Championship team from Washington D.C. held up a sign in their stream which read “Free Hong Kong Boycott Blitz”.
Bad Timing for Blizzard
The protests and reactions have come at a bad time for Blizzard, just ahead of their important annual BlizzCon event, which is slated to get underway in November. The focus at Blizzcon was to be the imminent release of Diablo IV, but the feeling is that spectators and even participants may use this as a platform to show their support for Blitzchung and Hong Kong instead.
Since making its official announcement banning Blitzchung, Blizzard have remained silent on the matter, refusing to add any further comment to the statement it has made and with negative news coverage in the likes of Bloomberg and the New York Times, it is certain to be a worrying time for the company ahead of their crucial BlizzCon event.