Blizzard returns prize money to player who supported Hong Kong protests
Following immense backlash, games developer Activision Blizzard has returned the prize money and lowered the suspension for a Hearthstone player showing support for the 2019 Hong Kong Protests.
Ng Wai Chung, otherwise known as “blitzchung” recently had his tournament prize winnings stripped and a 12-month ban placed for showing support for the Hong Kong Protest and inadvertently involving Blizzard in “ “public disrepute”. Chung was the winner of Hearthstone's most competitive touranment, Grandmasters in the Asia-Pacific division.
in a post-match Hearthstone Grandmasters winning interview, Hong Kong HS player @blitzchungHS said "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!"
in response, Blizzard Taiwan has now deleted the VOD from their official Twitch channel https://t.co/l5lcMu4ULR— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) 7 de outubro de 2019
Blizzard, which is 5% owned by Chinese company Tencent, received backlash for the harsh ruling, even with Blizzard employees voicing outrage at the decision.
The ruling has now been reworked and Chung is set to receive his prize winnings and have his suspension time halved. Initally Chung was said to have breached the rules of eSports, unprofessionally involving Blizzard in political issues, it has now been ruled the player acted ‘fairly’ when he won the tournament and thus deserves the prize he was to be given.
“The specific views expressed by blitzchung were not a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: Our relationships in China had no influence on our decision,” said Blizzard Entertainment President J. Allen Brack in a statement. “If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.”
“In the tournament itself blitzchung *played* fair. We now believe he should receive his prizing. We understand that for some this is not about the prize, and perhaps for others it is disrespectful to even discuss it. That is not our intention.
But playing fair also includes appropriate pre-and post-match conduct, especially when a player accepts recognition for winning in a broadcast. When we think about the suspension, six months for blitzchung is more appropriate, after which time he can compete in the Hearthstone pro circuit again if he so chooses. There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast.”
The Hong Kong Protests originally started as a response to a now suspended-bill but has since snowballed into a protest against anti-democratic practices and the loss of Hong Kong independence. It’s a fragile issue that has even led to a breakdown in the relationship between the NBA and China.
Hi everyone, thanks for your attention in recent times. I'm know a lot of media and gamer would like to know my future planning and thought on Blizzard latest decision. I'll see if I have time later on today to do a short stream answering as many questions as possible.— Ng Wai Chung (@blitzchungHS) 12 de outubro de 2019
Chung himself responded to the new ruling saying he really appreciates being given back his prize money but still feels a six-month ban from professional play is too harsh.