Blizzard Entertainment hosted a Q&A panel for World of Warcraft’s upcoming expansion Shadowlands at BlizzCon 2019 today. But instead of focusing on WoW, two members of the crowd instead used the panel to voice their support for Hong Kong.
During the broadcast, a man stood with the panel’s host and, after seemingly having his question answered, he said “free Hong Kong, the revolution of our times.” Later in the stream, a second fan approached the microphone and attempted to ask his question but was interrupted with “free Hong Kong” chants from the crowd.
Before the man could get his question out, a younger fan stepped in front of the camera. The host approached the boy, who then took the microphone and repeated “free Hong Kong.”
Blizzard did not stop either interjection. Instead, members of the panel can be heard thanking the protesters for their remarks.
Fans first began rallying against Blizzard after the company suspended Hearthstone pro Wai Chung “blitzchung” Ng for openly supporting the free-Hong Kong movement during a post-match interview at the Hearthstone Grandmasters in October. In the interview, blitzchung donned a gas mask and repeated the movement’s slogan: “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times.”
The Hearthstone developer responded by initially suspending blitzchung for a year and stripping the player of his tournament earnings as part of a rule that requires players to adhere to broadcast-related conversation in post-match interviews. Days after its ruling, however, Blizzard backtracked on its decision, reducing the player’s suspension to six months and returning his prize earnings.
Blizzard’s ruling resulted in backlash from fans and even caused members of U.S. Congress to send a letter to the company criticizing its actions. Before BlizzCon began, many fans organized movements on social media to openly protest Blizzard and its suspension of blitzchung.