Brian Kibler steps down from casting Hearthstone Grandmasters in wake of Hong Kong controversy

"I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision."

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Hearthstone commentator Brian Kibler is making a statement after Blizzard’s harsh punishment of Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai.

The former Magic: The Gathering pro said he’s stepping down from casting Grandmasters in the wake of the controversy. Kibler feels that Blizzard was too “heavy-handed” with Blitzchung, who was suspended for voicing support for the Hong Kong protests during the tournament.

“When I learned about the ruling, I reached out to Blizzard and informed them that I no longer feel comfortable casting the Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon. I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision,” Kibler said.

The controversy began when Blitzchung used the slogan of the protest movement—“liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times”—during a post-game interview. Blizzard issued a one-year suspension and took his Grandmaster prize earnings for violating tournament rules.

Kibler does admit that Blizzard was correct in issuing a penalty for Blitzchung’s actions, however. The company doesn’t want its official broadcasts to be used as a political tool, which players agreed to prior to competing in the tournament. But Kibler feels that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

“I could understand a fine, or even a short suspension from competitive play, but removal from Grandmasters, clawing back the prizes he already earned, and banning him for a full year seems completely overboard,” Kibler said. 

Kibler asked fans to not direct their anger on casters, streamers, or Blizzard employees.

“This is not the kind of decision that comes from the rank and file,” Kibler said. “Most likely they’re just as angry as you are. I know I am.”