The professional Hearthstone player, Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung, has been banned by Blizzard from the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition due to the violation of the event rules, in addition to having a 12-month ban on any eSports competition in the card game.
The incident that caused the player’s ban was during an official broadcast of the Taiwanese Hearthstone organization, where Chung’s support for Hong Kong’s protests by wearing a mask was seen from the beginning. The nation’s government banned the use of these during the manifestations, but people have continued to use them to protect their identity.
Subsequently, and at a spontaneous moment, the player shouted in the stream “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!”. Shortly after the video would be cut, being replaced by advertising.
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Chung admitted that his actions could be very dangerous and expensive (and they were, since Blizzard took immediate action, eliminating his monetary prize and forbidding him to play professionally), but that as a citizen of Hong Kong he wanted to make visible the political problems that are happening.
The Asian nation has been plagued by multiple protests since March because of the possible approval of an extradition law that could put many of Hong Kong’s citizens at the mercy of the Chinese government.
Blizzard, the company responsible for Hearthstone took action immediately on the matter, indicating that what Chung had done was a violation of the tournament rules and that due to the importance of the Grandmasters (the most famous competition in the game), they could not leave pass it. The company indicates that they are not against the freedom of expression of each individual, but that all tournament participants must abide by the rules.
The actions were so blunt that it is impossible to find the videos of the game where Chung won, and even the interview casters were fired for allowing these acts.
The Hearthstone player community has started a boycott on Reddit to show their dissatisfaction with the company’s decision. As a preventive measure, the Hearthstone subreddit has been blocked for a large number of negative comments, so it cannot be accessed without an invitation.