Things in Hong Kong aren’t great right now. The island country has been beleaguered by protests for since June, when a proposed law would see suspected criminals extradited to mainland China for trial. The worry here was that this law would undermine the country’s judicial independence, established as part of the handover from Britain to China. While Hong Kong is part of the singular China, it – like Macau – has been able to retain its own economic and administrative systems.
Since then, the protests have escalated, with calls for more autonomy, a greater democracy and amnesty for protestors, all of this amidst fears that the Chinese military might intervene. This weekend past, Hong Kong Hearthstone pro Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai caused a storm of controversy when he appeared in a Hearthstone Grandmasters post-match interview, wearing a gas mask and goggles in defiance of the new law banning face masks in Hong Kong. In the stream, when he removed his mask, he shouted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” The stream has since been deleted from Blizzard’s Twitch channel.
Chung has not backed down either, saying that he knew that his actions might cause problems, but believed he had a duty to raise awareness about Hong Kong’s plight.
“As you know there are serious protests in my country now. My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention,” he said in a statement. “I put so much effort in that social movement in the past few months, that I sometimes couldn’t focus on preparing my Grandmaster match. I know what my action on stream means. It could cause me lot of trouble, even my personal safety in real life. But I think it’s my duty to say something about the issue.”
Now, Blizzard has banned him. They have suspended Chung from The Hearthstone Grandmasters, he will receive none of the prize money due to him, and will be banned from playing in official tournaments for a year. The two Taiwanese casters who appeared with him on the stream – Virtual, Winner of the All-Star 2017 Taiwan invitational tournament, and Mr. Yi – were also fired. Says Blizzard, in a statement:
During the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters broadcast over the weekend there was a competition rule violation during a post-match interview, involving Blitzchung and two casters, which resulted in the removal of the match VOD replay.
Upon further review we have found the action has violated the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules section 6.1 (o) and is individual behavior which does not represent Blizzard or Hearthstone Esports. 6.1 (o) is found below.
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, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.
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.
Effective immediately, Blitzchung is removed from Grandmasters and will receive no prizing for Grandmasters Season 2. Additionally, Blitzchung is ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020. We will also immediately cease working with both casters.
We’d like to re-emphasize tournament and player conduct within the Hearthstone esports community from both players and talent. 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 worth noting that Chinese mega tech corporation Tencent is one of the big investors that helped Bobby Kotick and co buy Activision Blizzard out from Vivendi – and still owns a 5% stake in the company. This just shows how important Chinese money is to business; it’s more important than democracy.
Last Updated: October 8, 2019