Blizzard bans pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung for supporting Hong Kong protesters

Blizzard bans pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung for supporting Hong Kong protesters, upsetting gamers and US senators.
Blitzchung, real name Ng Wai Chung, in 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament coverage. Photo credit: Blizzard

The e-sport world is being rocked with a political scandal that's causing global shockwaves and being condemned by US lawmakers. 

Professional Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung, aka Blitzchung, was banned by gaming company Blizzard for expressing support for the Hong Kong protesters in a post-match interview.

Blitzchung wore a face mask to show solidarity with the protesters and in the Taiwanese interview exclaimed in Mandarin: "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!"

Blizzard says his statement breaks its rules forbidding players from saying something that "offends a portion or group of the public" or "otherwise damages" the company's image.

But Blizzard is being sharply criticised for banning the two hosts of the stream Blitzchung appeared on, as well as kicking him out of the tournament, withholding his prize money and banning him from playing Hearthstone for a year.

"Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party," Senator Ron Wyden tweeted.

"No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck."

"Recognise what's happening here. People who don't live in #China must either self censor or face dismissal & suspensions," added Senator Marco Rubio.

"China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in US politics today is gone."

In online forums, some Blizzard fans are saying they'll boycott all of the company's games, which also include the World of Warcraft, Overwatch, StarCraft, Diablo and Heroes of the Storm franchises.

Blitzchung, a 21-year-old university student, has since told media he has no regrets about his actions, despite losing a reported US$10,000 through them.

"I don't regret saying that stuff. And even now, I don't regret it at all," he told AFP.

"I sacrificed time hanging out with my friends and studying because of this competition. Even though it seemed that I had wasted four years of time, I have something more important in my heart - if we lose the movement, Hong Kong will end forever.

"I shouldn't be scared. I hope my act can inspire other gamers like me, to continue to support the movement in Hong Kong."

The Blitzchung incident is similar to a recent NBA controversy over Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posting a now-deleted tweet supporting the Hong Kong protest movement.


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