Collegiate Hearthstone players from American University held up a sign on stream yesterday showing their support for the Hong Kong protests along with their disapproval of Blizzard during a live tournament.
The sign said “Free Hong Kong Boycott Blizz” and was raised near the end of American University’s match against Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Within seconds, the stream promptly changed gears to have the sign removed from sight. The following tournament matches replaced player webcams with images of Hearthstone characters.
Additionally, a clip of the sign was posted to the Livestream Fails Reddit but was removed within just a few hours with no explanation given. Before being removed, it received over 50,000 upvotes. The post has since been reuploaded.
Over the past few days, Blizzard has come under fire after Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai voiced his support for Hong Kong in a post-game interview. Blizzard responded by taking away Blitzchung’s Grandmasters earnings and banned him for 12 months—both casters who appeared on stream with him were also fired. Blizzard likely did this to prevent any backlash from China. But fans aren’t happy at Blizzard’s apparent acquiescence to an autocratic regime, and have since begun rallying against the company.
A #BoycottBlizzard tag shortly started trending on Twitter and players have said they plan on uninstalling Hearthstone along with other Blizzard games. Blizzard employees have also taken a stance against the company. Signs around the office that stand for company values, “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters,” were covered with paper by employees who disagreed with Blizzard’s ruling against Blitzchung.
Blizzard has remained relatively quiet since its initial response to Blitzchung. The company also hasn’t released a statement regarding yesterday’s collegiate Hearthstone stream. But after cutting the stream and disabling player cams during the tournament, it seems Blizzard isn’t back off from its position.