The gaming world is a place where players can forget about all real-world issues like politics. This was what Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai himself thought when he wanted to send a political message through an otherwise peaceful medium. Little did he know how far-fetched the consequences of his actions might have gone.
During the Hearthstone Grand Masters, a Hearthstone professional player from Hong Kong talked about his country’s political lockdown in his post-match interview. This interview seemed to have triggered the higher-ups at Beijing – because shortly after the conclusion of the match, Blitzchung was removed from Grand Masters and banned from all Hearthstone esports for a period of one year besides having all his winnings were confiscated. Both casters who interviewed him have been fired by Blizzard with immediate effect.
Breaking: Effective immediately, Blizzard has removed Hong Kong Hearthstone player blitzchung from Hearthstone Grand Masters, rescinded all his prize money, and have suspended him from pro play for one year for his recent interview.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 8, 2019
Blizzard’s actions had far-reaching consequences, with people supporting Blitzchung’s statements in support of the Hong Kong protestors. It is worthy of notice that Blizzard has been playing the “equality” and “diversity” card for long (which had become particularly noticeable in Overwatch), and this suspension goes against their preachings (which has been very eagerly pointed out by the community as well). Perhaps the best outcome of Blitzchung’s suspension was that Immutable, the developer of Gods Unchained had reached out to him, offering to pay him his lost earnings from Grand Masters. Immutable also pledged to offer him a spot at their tournament with a prize pool of 5 million dollars.
.@Blizzard_Ent just banned @blitzchungHS and stripped his Hearthstone winnings because they care about money more than freedom. We will pay for ALL his lost winnings and a ticket to our $500k tournament: no player should be punished for their beliefs. #freegaming https://t.co/ONvtkG4x9G
— Gods Unchained (@GodsUnchained) October 8, 2019
For anyone in the dark, Gods Unchained is a trading card game based on the ethereum blockchain. Two players make a deck of 30 cards and face off against each other in a duel that lasts till the ‘health’ of one of the players drops to zero. The blockchain allows players to know the exact odds of getting a particular card with each opened pack, which is a point distinguishing it from other online TCGs like Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering: Arena.
Immutable’s actions are praiseworthy, offering a perfect way out for Blitzchung while promoting their product before the world at large. Meanwhile, people are left to question how far Blizzard can go to protect their markets – even if it means striking down on their “equality” narrative.