Reactions to the ban of a Hearthstone pro who called for support of the Hong Kong protests are intensifying across the game’s player base. Several players, including some who’ve been playing since the game’s launch in 2014, said on Reddit that they’d boycott Hearthstone in the future following the ban of Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai.
Blitzchung was banned from Hearthstone tournaments for one year and will forfeit his Grandmasters prize earnings following his recent on-stream political statement in favor of the Hong Kong liberation movement against the Chinese government. Blizzard will also no longer work with the casters who encouraged Blitzchung to make his statement on air.
But this ban is seemingly impacting the regular Hearthstone player base, too. Top threads on the game’s subreddit are filled with players expressing their shock and disappointment over Blizzard’s decision. Others point out the fact that it took much longer for the company to ban cheaters compared to Blitzchung.
“I cannot and will not support a company that throws all morals away for profit,” a Reddit user said. “Thanks for making this decision so easy for me Blizzard.”
“I know what my action on stream means,” Blitzchung said in an interview with InvenGlobal. “It could cause me lot of trouble, even my personal safety in real life. But I think it’s my duty to say something about the issue.”
The protests in Hong Kong have been going on since June. They were sparked when a controversial law was drafted that would’ve allowed extradition from Hong Kong to China. Now, protests have developed to include demands for a fully-democratic government and an inquiry into police crackdown.
“While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules,” Blizzard said in its official statement regarding Blitzchung’s ban.
It’s unclear what impact Blizzard’s decision will have on the Hearthstone community as a whole.