After facing a mass boycott and reaching the frontlines of the Hong Kong protests, Blizzard has issued a new statement on its decision to ban professional Hearthstone player blitzchung from the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition after he shouted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!”
Blizzard’s initial response was to ban blitzchung from Hearthstone tournaments for 12 months, strip him of his winnings, and fire the two interview casters who were on stream with blitzchung at the time he made the comments.
In a new statement, Blizzard denies that China had anything to do with these decisions and says that they were made for the benefit of Blizzard’s global audience:
“The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.
We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took.
If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.”
While Blizzard denies China had any influence, the company doesn’t explain which parts of its global audience would supposedly benefit from the banning of blitzchung and the firing of the two interview casters.
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Many are also highly skeptical of Blizzard’s claims that China had nothing to do with the decision.
"China had no influence on our decision."
— TheQuartering (@TheQuartering) October 12, 2019
It's good that you undid some of the material damage to the participants. But we've literally watched this EXACT thing happen with multiple other companies in recent months.
Denying that the CCP had anything to do with this is insulting to your fans' intelligence.
— Jezi, Persisting 🍒 (@Jezi_Belle) October 12, 2019
“our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.”
pressing X to doubt.
— Shitty Gamer Takes (@GamerTakes) October 12, 2019
You honestly think anyone believes this?
— The Odrin Search Party (@bigwitchershill) October 12, 2019
— Xsturamnator (@ExSturamnator) October 12, 2019
Most of Blizzard’s statements focuses on the importance of maintaining an “inclusive” and “global” community where everyone feels “safe and welcome.” Ironically, it claims that “every voice matters” but that engaging in what the company describes as “divisive social or political views” is strictly prohibited on official broadcasts.
The company also makes it clear that it believes what blitzchung and the two casters did was wrong by saying that the casters did not keep the event focused on the tournament and suggesting that blitzchung did not “play nice.”
However, Blizzard says that it will be reducing the punishments for blitzchung and the two previously fired casters. Now blitzchung will receive his prize money and be banned from Hearthstone tournaments for six months. Additionally, the two interview casters are no longer fired and have instead been issued with six-month suspensions.