Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Calls for Blitzchung Suspension Reduction
Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan wants Chung "blitzchung" Ng Wai's suspension reduced or eliminated, according to an interview with the Washington Post.
Blizzard punished blitzchung in early October for expressing support for pro democracy protests in Hong Kong. The company removed blitzchung from the Hearthstone Grandmasters circuit, rescinded his more than $10,000 in prize winnings, and suspended him from competition for a year.
Many Blizzard fans saw the decision as bending to censorship from the Chinese government. Online protests and a swirl of negative press led Blizzard to reduce blitzchung's suspension to six months and return his winnings.
"I was relieved when they reduced his suspension," Kaplan told the Post. "And I think the suspension should be reduced more or eliminated. But that's just me."
As protests continued outside BlizzCon, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack apologized for the handling of the situation during the convention's opening ceremony. He refrained from apologizing to blitzchung directly, and from further reducing his remaining punishments.
"I'm obviously a huge supporter of free speech; it's something that's very important to me," Kaplan said. "It got to me personally. I think the punishment was too harsh and I was greatly relieved when they gave his money back. I think that was extremely important."
Kaplan has participated in disciplinary discussions for the Overwatch League in the past, and he says the blitzchung decisions struck him as happening "way too quickly."
"We had to deal with a few [suspensions] in Season 1 in particular, and that process usually takes about four or five days to make the decision. There was always a group of us involved in deciding what the punishment should be, and we would heavily devil's advocate every part of the decision. So I was actually shocked that such a harsh penalty was levied."
Hearthstone game director Ben Lee has also described blitzchung's initial suspension as exceedingly harsh, but Kaplan is the first Blizzard figurehead to call for a complete commutation.
Blitzchung joined Tempo Storm as a Hearthstone streamer Oct. 31. He remains suspended from official competition.
Photo by Robert Paul/Blizzard