Blizzard Suspends Hearthstone Player For Hong Kong Support, Pulls Prize Money

Photo: Anthony Kwan, Getty

Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, a pro Hearthstone player from Hong Kong, ended a stream earlier this week with a statement of support for those engaged in months-long protests against local police and government. Because of this, Blizzard ruled that he violated competition rules, and have handed out a heavy punishment.

In the stream, part of the broadcast of the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters, Blitzchung wore a mask (similar to those worn by protesters) and said “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!”

Blizzard, clearly aware of the political repercussions in the Chinese market for such a statement, have determined that Blitzchung violated a competition rule, which states:

2019 HEARTHSTONE® GRANDMASTERS OFFICIAL COMPETITION RULES v1.4 p.12, Section 6.1 (o)

Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD ($0), in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.

Blitzchung’s punishment is an immediate removal from Grandmasters, a withholding of prize money for his participation and a ban from participating in Hearthstone esports “for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020".

Blizzard also add that, despite them physically ducking from Blitzchung’s comments on air and immediately cutting to a commercial, the company “will also immediately cease working with both casters” involved in airing the Hong Kong statement.

Blizzard end their ruling by saying “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.” 

It’s been a bad week for anyone wanting to “stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions” when it comes to China.


Comments

    So it's okay to be a toxic shitbird in the Hearthstone community but speaking out against a totalitarian regime that's actively trying to oppress your city is an immediate ban?

    Cool, cool.

      if you want to continue to do business in china..... yep

        i would not be suprised to see protest about this at blizzcon now

          I would. I imagine they’ve already held more than one meeting at Blizzard to plan controlling how much protest at Blizzcon is allowed to occur and how much can or will be shown and to who.

          I expect we might see a token display and no-one in China will ever know it happened.

          Last edited 09/10/19 2:35 am

    Well that is absolutely disgusting.
    BlizzardActivion now has absolutely no morale ground to stand of ever again.
    They would rather protect them selves from consumer backlash in China than have any back bone.

    If ever there was a time for the game journalist sphere to be outraged by something. This is it.

    I bet if someone said shit about Trump these gutless wonders at Blizzard wouldn't do Jack.

    They should be ashamed, be honest and say we banned him becuase of China and we're cowards not your bullshit "official competition rules"

      If Trump had any real sway over generating them the sort of money being involved with China does, I'm sure anyone talking shit about him would be banned too.

      But he simply does not.

        Which is the point I was making, From their statement Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image
        A double standard would apply becuase China would ban the game where as Trump couldn't, they don't give two shits about there rules being violated just thier bottom line.

          also should point out that blizzard had no issue when i think it was canniable corpse lead call all alliance players fags and wasnt until they received massive blowback from half the playerbase that they appologised.

        Trump would not care

          oh no trump would care but he would be completely powerlessim you have to remember that his ego is fragile he attempted sued Bill Maher because Bill said his mother was an Orangatang

    Blizzard showing they've got 'Tegridy too. Randy would be proud

    Lets be honest: it's not Blizzard really. It's an Activision board room. You better believe this wasn't a community managers decision or some such - a corporate banhammer came from orbit and everyone got outa the way lest they got the boot themselves.
    Once upon a time Blizzard used to be pretty cool and I'm sure those people actually making games still are.
    But it's nothing more than a brand in a machine now.

      Yup. Blizzard is dead.

      Their modern games are soulless husks which reflect it.

      Breaks my heart that you're absolutely on the money.
      And if Activision didn't have shareholders, they'd probably be a whole lot less of a bunch of shitheads.
      But hey. Capitalism kills everything I love.

    Oh god the irony of this happening right after the most recent south park episode lol

      I haven't watched the last two seasons, potentially not since the one where Garrison became Trump.
      Are they worth a watch?

        Season 20 was a bit shitty towards the end because Matt And Trey didn't actually think Trump would become president so they had to come up with the new storyline on the spot.

        After season 20 though everything was back to normal.

      Exactly what I thought of as well. I just watched it a few hours before and then I saw this story and couldn't help but laugh thinking how absolutely true it was.

    I'm really not surprised. I was cringing when I read the quote from him, as if Hong Kong hasn't always been a part of China that just got leased to the British for a period of time. If he wasn't born after the handover, I don't expect him have to been very old at the time.

    Its unfortunate for the casters who were dragged into the pointless activism. I'm guessing they didn't have an 'off' switch near enough at hand.

      who were dragged into the pointless activism

      I'm sure the people of hong kong would say otherwise.

      The people of hong kong dont want to end up in China's modern-day concentration camps. Being silent and complacent is not an option with china.

        Except the bill was pulled a couple of weeks ago. But the protesters, both peaceful and violent, keep moving the goalposts. 'Liberate Hong Kong' is something that the peaceful protesters are saying on the record that they don't want. They're fine being part of the one country, two systems regime.

        Last edited 08/10/19 8:10 pm

          Do you often only get your information from Chinese communist party-approved sources?

            Sydney Morning Herald actually. First I've heard about it being a Chinese Communist mouthpiece. Where do you get yours from?

              Ahh, so definitely a CCP-approved source. Noted.

            Do you have any relevant opinions to discuss in this forum or just post generic "well done cpp not" "+1 social credit"

              Do you have any relevant opinions other than ones supports a Totalitarian regime that sends religious minorities to concentration camps to be killed? A country that kidnaps people and throws them in work camps for wrong think? A country that previously mass murdered people for protesting?

      This isn't just pointless activism, this is about trying to give the people of Hong Kong more rights and giving them the freedom they deserve from the totalitarian and one-party rule of the communist Chinese government. I agree that some things are not worth protesting about and can get blown out of proportion but the freedom of Hong Kong is not one of these.

      Mate they get that they are ethnically Chinese - what they’re protesting against is the paranoid psychos that comprise the communist party. So, they knew the lease was ending - but they’re their own people yeah? Regardless of any deals between Britain and the CCP. And braver than I’ll ever be.

      looks like someone is trying to improve their social credit score

        Thats actually kind of funny. Not even remotely true, but a funny comeback. I'm just not a sheeple that devours media narrative without critical thinking from any point of view.

          Are you sure? because "sheeple that devours media narative without critical thinking from" just perfectly described the majority of the Chinese populace getting their media from the CPC and towing the party line. On a related note.. I would love to see student visas revoked for those found to have CPC links.

            I find most of the putative ‘critical thinkers’ tend to find any fault of the protestors sufficient to disqualify their entire case. If they truly thought critically they’d understand that no humans are perfect ... and those imperfections don’t necessarily delegitimatise their cause.

            Funniest one I saw on Facebook was a dude capitalizing CHILDREN in his anti protestor rant. As if to plead... won’t somebody please think of the children!!!! ????

      They are protesting against an increasingly totalitarian government that’s also teetering dangerously close to fascist. I sure as fuck would be protesting too. All the people screaming that we live in a fascist state clearly aren’t paying attention to China, because it’s legitimately terrifying and dangerous to dissent.

        To be fair we do have secret prisons that people accused of terrorism offences are kept, with their existence, and the fact they are in there kept hidden, and illegal to be reported on by the press or the families of those arrested, if they even know they've been arrested. You really don't hear about that, and I don't remember any protests in the streets going on with that.

        At least we haven't heard of any more of our citizens being renditioned to US black sites after what happened to Habib and Hicks. Habib especially was disturbing.

          We don’t black bag people off to concentration camps because they criticised the state. Jesus dude the two aren’t even remotely comparable. The west’s track record isn’t totally clean but it’s fucking angelic compared with modern China.

          Those aren't even remotely compareable to the concentration camps China operates.

          People taken to terrorist jails go there because they broke the law.

          China sends people to concentration camps to be tortured and killed for mere wrong speak or wrong think.

      What? While Hong Kong was never really British, it's certainly not at all Chinese. You're handwaving away 100 years of diverging culture, not to mention an entirely different political system and obvious, recent, demonstrations of China's brutality. How in hell is everything China represents to Hong Kong not worth fighting?

      But of course I see you're not a sheep consuming the mainstream media without looking at it critically, so I applaud you for finding information no one outside of China is consuming. Way to be individual.

      Real question; do you think, say, Tibet isn't worthy of activism? At what point is activism pointless, or do you actually believe China and Hong Kong are at all similar? Your take and stance are just bizarre and I legitimately can't understand how you've come to the stance you have.

      I mean, just from your comments here I'm just not a sheeple that devours media narrative without critical thinking
      They're fine being part of the one country, two systems regime I mean are you really saying with your critical thinking skills you actually believe China will happily let Hong Kong rule itself or in anyway exert its supposed autonomy? China?
      But then again I guess I'm just a sheep, huh.

      Yeah... signing a treaty to concede an island because a foreign power was about to break your country and only stopped because the illegal drug market they wanted to continue was more lucrative is "leasing temporarily"

      All the British teritories gained from the opium wars were ceded in perpetuity (ie. They dont have to give it back) thats not "leasing" thats giving your territory. China only got them back because they managed go legally argue against the treaties once they eventually became recognised in the UN and Britain no longer had any intrests in the old "colonies". China had to fight to get HK and other territories back.

        No replies to this comment ?
        No one gonna talk about those unfair treaties now ?
        Where was your talk of freedom prior to 1997?

    The shitty thing is nothing will happen unless people boycott Activision/Blizzard and cancel their subscriptions and accounts in response.

    If money is all they understand then it's time to put yours where your mouth is.

      I wish they hadn't just released Classic.

      Says something though... That their only good game is 15 years old.

        I love Vanilla, but layering and the subsequent extreme amount of layering exploiting in both open world & dungeons has left me feeling down about Classic. It was really jarring to see level 60's in the first week, and epic mounts going around very quickly after

        Was going to say, it’s easy enough for me to boycott blizzard. I haven’t enjoyed any of their games since tbc era wow, and classic wow would be too addictive for me to play again anyway.

    I wonder if this would have happened if Mike Morheime was still in charge?

      it would have, though mike really didnt not want to touch anything even slightly political, i remember watching the first interview after the 2014 blizzcon opening with Geoff whats his name and geoff brought up gamergate and mike had the look of i touching that shit with 40ft pole

    Oh. That's pretty fucking poor form.
    Just as I was thinking about finally getting into Overwatch, too!

    So disappointing. Selfish cowards.

    You guys sure know a lot about China considering you probably never lived there or traveled there.
    But then again I wouldn't know right ?
    In reality I grew up in fear in a concentration camp and all the advancements in the last 20 30 years are actually all illusions to keep me under the thumb.
    In reality most of my family who went from blue collar workers in a shithole factory to owning their own houses and businesses did so in a make believe Matrix, not an actual functioning modern country right?

    A minority do some nasty shit so the majority can live the American dream, it's not exactly anything new. How do you think we're living here right now , we sure as shit aren't indigenous.

      "My experience is good so the bad experiences of other people are either fake or irrelevant."

      Thanks CCP sponsored bot!

      +10 to your social credit score!

        Thanks for promoting free speech, so it's free speech as long as I support your opinion, but not my own. Niceeeeee

          Oh the irony your comment given you are support a totalitarian regime that goes to the ends of the earth to stop free speech.

          Tiananmen square says hello

    @alexwalker Just to let you know that "coincidentially" this article has disappeared from the feed aggregator that informs RSS readers of Kotaku updates. First time I've ever seen that happening in 4 years subscribing to Kotaku's RSS.

      Wonder if that's because it was retimed/shifted on the front page. Thanks for letting me know!

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