Blizzard president J. Allen Brack released an official announcement Friday regarding the recent punishment of Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung, which spanned a disqualification from Hearthstone Grandmasters, a one-year suspension from competitive play, and reduction of all his prize money to $0.
Brack doubled down on the decision of his company to not allow any political speech on its formal channels, and stated that contrary to popular perception, Blizzard’s ruling had nothing to do with any influence China might have on the company.
“However, the official broadcast needs to be about the tournament and to be a place where all are welcome. In support of that, we want to keep the official channels focused on the game.
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.”
However, Brack admitted that the sentenced passed on Blitzhchung was too severe and that, apart from his “Liberate Hong Kong” message, he’s played a fair tournament. The sentence has been revised to now enforce half the original suspension, reinstating Blitzchung into Grandmasters, and the return of his prizing. The casters’ ban has also been reduced to a six-month suspension.
“When we think about the suspension, six months for blitzchung is more appropriate, after which time he can compete in the Hearthstone pro circuit again if he so chooses. There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast.
With regard to the casters, remember their purpose is to keep the event focused on the tournament. That didn’t happen here, and we are setting their suspension to six months as well.”
Blitzhchung was banned Monday after putting on a gas mask and shouting out “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age” in support of the Hong Kong protests that’s been going on since June. In the wake of his ban, his act has caused a widespread public opposition against Blizzard’s decision and following week-long silence, with #BoycottBlizzard trending on Twitter. Several prominent Hearthstone casters, including Brian Kibler and Nathan “Admirable” Zamora also bowed out of casting the Grandmasters tournament.
Whether Brack’s letter will silence the public outcry remains to be seen, but for now at least, that’s not very likely. The Reddit thread with Brack’s message, which currently has over 23K upvotes, contains mostly negative reactions to the letter, many deeming it a poorly presented PR non-apology.
The story is developing.