Hearthstone player suspended by Blizzard over Hong Kong comments

Blizzard has removed Blitzchung from Grandmasters and banned him from competing in Hearthstone following his on-stream Hong Kong protest

At the end of the day, Blizzard is just another company that's hellbent on expanding into the fruitful Chinese market regardless of political blowback.

Blizzard has placed a 12-month ban on a Hong-Kong-based professional gamer who staged an anti-government protest during a post-match interview.

"Grandmasters is the highest tier of Hearthstone Esports and we take tournament rule violations very seriously", Blizzard said in the announcement.

Blitzchung wore a gas mask and dark goggles during that interview last Sunday, evoking the gear activists have worn during months of street protests. An American esports company called Blizzard Entertainment, creators of World of Warcraft, cracked down on a winning player yesterday after he offered his support to Hong Kong protesters.

According to a statement from Blizzard, Blitzchung violated a competition rule that bars players from doing anything that "brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image".

The current controversy with Blizzard comes hot on the heels of profuse apologies from the NBA's Houston Rockets, who have fallen all over themselves to apologize to the Chinese government for a since-deleted tweet from general manager Daryl Morey that was supportive of the protesters in Hong Kong.

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Chung will be ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months beginning from October 5th, 2019 and extending to October 5th, 2020.

After his punishment was announced, Blitzchung spoke to his fans on his personal Twitch account. But now I'm done, both with Hearthstone and any other Activision Blizzard product, unless it reinstates Chung and the casters...

The issue has been particularly contentious for large gaming, tech, and film companies that seek to curry favor within the Chinese marketplace. Freedom-loving Apple caught flack after if banned an app called HKmap, which showed the city's residents were to avoid riots and police actions, although the ban has since been lifted, and has also blocked Hong Kong and Macao residents from using the Taiwanese flag. As Vox points out, these sanctions signify that "Blizzard is not merely trying to operate within the confines of Chinese censorship but acting as its agent".

In a message on Twitter, Blitzchung told PCMag he was for now declining to comment on his suspension, saying "too many media reaching out to me now". Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday.

The NBA isn't the only organization eager to punish anyone who dares to defy communist China. "May this autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful". The protestors are now demanding democratic election of Hong Kong's leaders.

The Hong Kong protests started in June to demand the withdrawal of a law draft that would have allowed extradition directly from Hong Kong to China.

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