Blizzard banned top Hearthstone player, Blitzchung for a period of 12 months and rescinded all his prize money from the current season for making a politically charged statement during his post-match interview. They have also fired the two casters who were conducting said interview, who were seen ducking behind the desk when the comments were being made. The situation has not gone down well with the community as there seems to be a growing wave of global concern towards how western companies are trying to appease China for the sake of money.
In the now deleted VOD, Blitzchung can be heard saying the words “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” in support of the currently ongoing protests in the region, regarding the 2019 Hong Kong extradition Bill and subsequent actions taken by China to curb these protests.
In a statement to InvenGlobal, Blitzchung said “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. 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."
In response, Blizzard cited their 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules section 6.1 when handing out the ban. The full statement can be found here.
The community were enraged at the decision, with many taking to Twitter and Reddit to highlight the fact that it feels as if Blizzard have taken this step to appease their Chinese audience and backers and it is an extreme step. And this isn’t the first time that Blizzard has stood with China as it has repeatedly disallowed players from Taiwan from playing under their own flag which makes the case against them all the more compelling.