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Blizzard Is ‘Assessing’ How To Proceed Following Hong Kong Controversy

Blizzard is figuring out its next moves following a massive outcry after the company banned a Hong Kong Hearthstone

esports pro. Fans, players, prominent industry members, and even lawmakers have criticized Blizzard in the wake of the scandal.In a short comment to Engadget a Blizzard spokesperson said that the company is, “assessing the situation for now,” following its decision to ban Hearthstone player Ng Wai “Blitzchung” Chung for a year after the player publicly raised support for the Hong Kong liberation protests that are currently happening on the island.

The Blizzard China Controversy Explained

On October 6, Chung was interviewed by the Taiwanese Hearthstone streaming team following his win over another pro player. During the interview, Chung wore a face mask in solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters before announcing live on camera, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!”

The stream was quickly cut away, and the two Taiwanese casters ducked under their monitors to keep from being associated with Chung. However, on October 8 Blizzard announced it would be taking punitive actions against Chung for violating Rules section 6.1 (o):

“Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public dispute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image.”

Blizzard announced that Chung would be immediately removed from its Grandmasters esports tour, banned from Hearthstone esports for 12 months, and will have his prize money of $10,000 rescinded. The two Taiwanese casters also had their contracts terminated.

Following the ban Chung told IGN, “I expected the decision by Blizzard, I think it’s unfair, but I do respect their decision. I’m not [regretful] of what I said.”Reactions to Blizzard’s decision online has been vocal and overwhelmingly negative. Players have expressed their disapproval with a #BoycottBlizzard campaign, a top Hearthstone caster has quit over Blizzard’s punishment, and lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have condemned Blizzard’s decision.

Blizzard has remained relatively mum on the matter since announcing Chung’s punishment, but in a matter of days this situation has exploded in a full-blown crisis for Blizzard. You can read IGN’s full explainer on this Blizzard controversy here.

Matt Kim is a reporter for IGN. If you’re familiar with Blizzard’s decision behind the ban, please reach out on Twitter or at newstips@ign.com

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