Blizzard Bans Competitive Player Blitzchung


Ian Dahl, Contributor

Blizzard Entertainment, creators of Hearthstone, recently hosted a competition for the card game known as the “Grandmasters”. One of the competitors, Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, expressed his support of the protests in Hong Kong during his post-game interview. Blizzard, who is partially owned by a Chinese company, heavily punished Blitzchung for his statement during the interview. The Company fired the two casters, banned Blitzchung from participating in future Hearthstone tournaments for 12 months, and revoked the prize money Blitzchung won from the competition. Blizzard justified their decision by saying that Blitzchung broke one of the tournament rules. Blitzchung had supposedly “engaged in an act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public or otherwise damages Blizzard’s image.”

Blizzard’s decision to punish Blitzchung was met with protests and outrage from fans of Blizzard who believe that the decision was unfair and harsh. Fans also think that Blizzard is sucking up to China, saying that they care more about money from China than their fans or supporting the movement in Hong Kong. Even some members of the Hearthstone team criticize Blizzard’s decision. Brian Kibler, one Hearthstone commentator, wrote, “The punishment meted out to Blitzchung is incredibly harsh, 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 to an extent that feels completely unwarranted and unfair.”

Blizzard later responded to the fan outcry by reducing the ban on Blitzchung in reducing his ban from 12 months to 6 months and returning the prize money back to him. The CEO of Blizzard, Allen Brack, released a statement on their website apologizing for the ban. In the statement, they reduce Blitzchung’s punishments and assured that China had no part in their decision. However, many fans believe that Blizzard’s apology was not genuine and do not believe that China had no influence on the punishment.

While Blitzchung does deserve a punishment for his statement and it did break the tournament’s rules, the punishment Blitzchung received was excessive. The decision was definitely influenced by China and Blizzard did it to set an example out of Blitzchung, but Blizzard is in a tight spot currently. If they go against China, they could lose lots of money and China’s support but if they listen to China, Blizzard loses many fans and players. Many hope Blizzard makes the best decision but there might not be a good choice for them.