Hearthstone professional player, Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai was suspended for a year and was prevented from collecting any prize money after delivering a pro-Hong Kong message during a broadcast. In a recently made statement, Blizzard has reduced the suspension, and has allowed Blitzchung to collect his prize money.
In the statement, J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment, explained that the focus of esports events should stay away from politics and should be more centered towards the game itself, despite the fact that the company tries to uphold values of diversity and global thinking. Blitzchung did not break any rules while playing the game, so he will be allowed to collect his prize money.
What was also concerning was how some commentators who were on duty at the time of Blitzchung's message were also suspended for a year. However, both the commentators and Blitzchung's suspensions have been reduced from a year to just six months. Brack stated that in the future, the company will still apply rules to esports tournaments in order to ensure that broadcasts steer away from divisive social or political views.
Although Brack stated that neither Blitzchung's views nor Blizzard's relations with China sparked the punishment, it's difficult to view the punishment as being reasonable. Blizzard is a company that has had a tremendous legacy for inspiring people in the video game and esports industries, creating well polished games that depict heroes fighting for freedom and peace.
Photo courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment