Hearthstone influencer and caster extraordinaire Brian Kibler has openly stated his decision to stay away from casting the Hearthstone Grand Master finals at Blizzcon and avoid any form of involvement with Grand Masters till “things change”. According to his statement, he openly believes that there is a relation between the geopolitical situation in China and Hong Kong and Blizzard’s business interests, and that was what prompted Blizzard to attempt to censor Blitzchung’s interview and fire the casters.
For anyone in the dark, in one of the matches in the Asia-Pacific Qualifiers for the Hearthstone Grand Masters, the winning player Blitzchung had openly rooted for Hong Kong’s independence struggle. This prompted Blizzard to fire the casters responsible for the interview and disqualify Blitzchung from Grand Masters with a ban from all competitive Hearthstone events for one year. Blizzard even confiscated his $3000 winnings from Grand Masters for his wins.
Kibler’s stance is a reasonable yet praiseworthy one. Any Hearthstone fans who watched him know that he wasn’t one to shy away from stating his political views (he even had a deck mocking the elections in 2016). While the mob dissenting against Blizzard might not agree with his decision to stand by the ban, it was technically right considering there does exist a ruling against openly stating political ideologies on stream. However, the punishment meted out to Blitzchung for the violation including confiscating his prize money was extremely harsh and seemed to be done on a “personal request” from “someone” who seemed to have been “offended” at Blitzchung’s words.
Kibler might be just one person in an ocean of content creators and influencers related to Hearthstone, but he’s definitely an influential one.