Blizzard has drawn the ire of, well, the internet this week following an announcement regarding one of its Hearthstone Grandmaster competitors.
The player in question is Hong Kong resident, Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai. During the Asia Pacific Grandmasters at the weekend, Ng Wai ended his appearance sporting a gas mask similar to those seen on Hong Kong’s protesters in recent months.
— Inven Global (@InvenGlobal) October 6, 2019
From what we can tell Ng Wai says “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times”.
Because of these actions the player has had his prize money confiscated and he is banned from playing Hearthstone esports for a year.
As reported by Critical Hit, Ng Wai says he knew that the statement would be seen as problematic.
“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
“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,” says Ng Wai.
And right he was to draw attention to a massively important issue on a world stage. Unfortunately Blizzard doesn’t see it this way and as such it has taken action against the Hearthstone player.
“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,” writes Blizzard.
So what rule was broken? Is there a rule against protesting? How about wearing a mask? Nope, the rule Ng Wai broke is quite simply, reaching.
“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,” Blizzard wrote in a statement.
So then, the rule states that Blizzard can determine whether you have brought it into public disrepute, offended people, or damaged its image. In this instance Blizzard is judge, jury and executioner and did that job with alarming speed.
Also of note is that the two casters who were on stream at the time will also no longer be allowed to work with Blizzard.
The reason for this is unclear. A thread on the r/Hearthstone sub-Reddit tells us that the casters let Ng Wai say what he wanted to say despite knowing what he was going to say given his mask. It appears then as if the casters have no say in the matter and are just being tossed to the side because they were also on stream, a position Blizzard likely asked them to be in.
“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,” Blizzard writes.
While that may well be the case, folks are understandably upset and disappointed in the stance Blizzard has taken.
Many in the aforementioned sub-Reddit have expressed their dismay at Blizzard’s actions and have said they will no longer be supporting the publisher/developer.
It seems then that the only entity which has brought Blizzard’s reputation into disrepute then, is Blizzard itself.
We’ll miss Hearthstone.
[Image – Blitzchung Twitch]