Blizzard has ultimately suspended the US Hearthstone collegiate group that held up a “Absolutely free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz” sign for the duration of a tournament stream, following accusations from the neighborhood (and the group itself) that its failure to punish the players was hypocritical.
The on-stream incident occurred final week, as a direct response to Blizzard’s announcement that it would be suspending Hearthstone Grandmaster Chung ‘blitzchung’ Ng Wai from competitive play for one particular year, following his choice to express assistance for protesters in Hong Kong for the duration of a streamed post-match interview. Blizzard also fired the casters involved in the stream, and denied Blitzchung his winnings – a heavy handed punishment that quite a few fans saw as Blizzard kowtowing to the Chinese government.
The following day, the American University group staged its personal protest by holding up the Absolutely free Hong Kong sign, an action which was not punished by Blizzard, in spite of the organization claiming that it would censure all teams that engage in acts that “brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image”.
The collegiate group responded by forfeiting the tournament and withdrawing from future competitions in protest at Blizzard’s inconsistent therapy of players.
In a post on Reddit, one particular of the American University players involved in the incident wrote, “This shows Blizzard’s hypocrisy in how it treats various regions. They are hesitant to suppress no cost speech when it occurs in America, on an English language stream, but will throw casters’ and players’ livelihoods below the bus if they are from Hong Kong or Taiwan.
“It ought to also dispel the concept that Blitzchung was punished for bringing politics into Hearthstone, due to the fact our message was clearly political and we weren’t touched. Blitzchung was punished due to the fact China was watching.”
Right after a week of silence, and swiftly escalating tensions in between Blizzard and fans, the organization ultimately released a statement final Friday, refuting claims that its relationships in China had influenced its choice to punish Blitzchung so severely, and admitting that it had reacted as well rapidly following Blitzchung’s protest. As a outcome, it mentioned it would decrease Blitzchung’s suspension (alongside that of his fellow casters) to six months, and reinstate his winnings. Having said that, the American University group remained unpunished.
Content to announce the AU Hearthstone group received a six month ban from competitors. Even though delayed I appreciate all players getting treated equally and no one particular getting above the guidelines. pic.twitter.com/mZStoF0e0t
— Casey Chambers (@Xcelsior_hs) October 16, 2019
Now, nevertheless, group member Casey Chambers has revealed that Blizzard is ultimately taking methods against the American University players. “Content to announce the AU Hearthstone group received a six month ban from competitors. Even though delayed I appreciate all players getting treated equally and no one particular getting above the guidelines.”
No matter whether Blizzard’s slow, shuffling moves to remedy the circumstance will be substantial sufficient to appease fans unhappy with its current actions remains to be noticed.
The organization has been blocking player cams and post-game interviews from its livestreams because final week, and even cancelled an Overwatch Switch launch celebration at Nintendo’s New York retailer. Time will inform how it plans to deal with any prospective discontent for the duration of this year’s BlizzCon, which starts in a handful of brief weeks.