Hong Kong-based Hearthstone champion Ng Wai Chung, better known as “Blitzchung,” has been removed from Hearthstone Grandmasters after pro-Hong Kong comments made in a post-match interview this weekend.
During the interview, the professional Hearthstone player expressed his support for the Hong Kong protest movement and stated, “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our age!” Video below:
Blizzard acted quickly and deleted the video on-demand of the interview from their official Twitch channel. They then followed it up by rescinding blitzchung’s prize winnings, banning him from professional Hearthstone play until October 5, 2020, and firing both the casters present in the interview.
“Grandmasters is the highest tier of Hearthstone Esports and we take tournament rule violations very seriously. After an investigation, we are taking the necessary actions to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future,” said Blizzard in a statement.
The publishers of Gods Unchained, a competing trading card based game, have used the opportunity to offer to "pay for ALL [Blitzchung's] lost winnings and a ticket to our $500k tournament."
Activision Blizzard is a publicly traded company of which the Chinese multinational conglomerate Tencent owns nearly 5%, and many of its games have big markets in China. Blizzard's many ties to China have led them to also force Taiwan to be called “Chinese Taipei” in the Overwatch World Cup, and prevent players from using or holding up Taiwanese flags.
The video game publisher is just one in a growing line of corporations that has kowtowed to Chinese hegemony in the recent days. The NBA, the world’s woke sports league, recently bent the knee to China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey voiced his support for the Hong Kong democratic protests.
It seems South Park's Matt Parker and Trey Stone stand alone against the tide of sycophants appeasing China’s pettiness. Their show was banned in China after their "Band in China" episode made fun of Chinese censorship, and they in response released the following statement:
“Like the N.B.A., we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now, China?”
UPDATE: The r/Blizzard subreddit has been privated following relentless criticism.
UPDATE: Kevin Hovdestad, a former Blizzard employee, reports that the "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters" plaques outside Blizzard's office -- supposed to represent the game publisher's core values -- have been covered up by "incensed employees."
UPDATE: The internet is fighting back.
UPDATE: Blizzard has issued a statement on the situation, described by some as one of the worst ever released. In it, Blizzard says that it will return the prize money to Blitzchung and reduce his tournament suspension to 6 months, but censorship on behalf of China will continue.