Blizzard Suspends Hearthstone Pro for Supporting Hong Kong Protests

Ruben Fields
October 9, 2019

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 USA business moving to head off potential conflict with the Chinese government.

Chung hails from Hong Kong and is a professional player of Hearthstone - a spinoff collectible card game that is based on the Warcraft series.

Game developer Blizzard Entertainment has suspended a Hearthstone esports player after he called for the liberation of Hong Kong during a livestream. He wore a mask that the protesters used and said "Liberate Hong Kong". My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention. The player will be unable to participate in Hearthstone eSports until October 5th 2020.

In an interview with popular gaming site IGN, Chung said that while he thought Blizzard's action was "unfair", he has no regrets about speaking out, saying, "I shouldn't be afraid of these kinds of white terror". A gamer who said they've played Hearthstone since 2014 posted that they've now quit, ripping Blizzard as "embarrassing" and "spineless". "But I think it's my duty to say something about the issue".

A Hearthstone Hong Kong controversy has led to a 12-month ban for Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai and the ending of a working relationship with two casters.

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But he also threatened to "totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey" if its military action in Syria went too far. At least two convoys of buses carrying Turkish commandos headed to the border Tuesday, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

After the livestream ended, Ng Wai was immediately removed from the game's Grandmasters rank and the developer is now withholding his tournament prize money. Blizzard is anxious about its good standing with the Chinese government.

The "serious protests" Chung refers to began earlier this year when Hong Kong's government announced plans to introduce a new law that would allow China to extradite criminals. Blitzchung is from Hong Kong, according to Inven Global. But protests have now continued, with broader demands related to a fully democratic government and inquiry into police crackdown of the protests.

This outrage extended to other games published by Blizzard, with one user posting on the Overwatch subreddit, "I'm deleting my account with hundreds of hours of Overwatch, Hearthstone, [World of Warcraft], Diablo and StarCraft".

Blizzard is not the only tech company to be sucking up to China recently. The Rockets lost Chinese sponsorship deals.

After the team's owner and an National Basketball Association spokesman denounced Morey's statement - prompting a separate backlash in the US - the league's commissioner clarified Tuesday that the National Basketball Association supports free speech. 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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