Blizzard has placed a 12-month ban on a Hong-Kong-based professional gamer who voiced support for Hong Kong’s protestors during a post-match interview. Chung Ng Wai, who plays under the name Blitzchung, had just won a match at the Hearthstone grandmasters tournament when he appeared for his interview wearing a gas mask – similar to those worn by protestors – and said: “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age.”
Two inscriptions on a statue outside Blizzard’s HQ in California, which read ‘think globally’ and ‘every voice matters’, were covered up by members of the Blizzard team
Hong Kong has been in a state of civil unrest for more than four months, with millions of protestors calling for sovereignty from mainland China. In a statement, Blitzchung said he felt it was his “duty to say something about the issue”. He is one of the top players of Hearthstone, Blizzard’s popular digital card game, in the Asia-Pacific region.
Blizzard said the ban was for breaking tournament rules to not offend people or damage the company’s image, but many have accused the US firm of bowing to pressure from China. The company’s shares dropped 2.31 percent on Tuesday and the hashtag ‘BoycottBlizzard’ was trending among Twitter’s gaming community. US senators have also come out to condemn the decision. Senator Marco Rubio tweeted: “Recognize what’s happening here. People who don’t live in #China must either self-censor or face dismissal & suspensions.”
Even some of Blizzard’s employees appear to reject the decision. Two inscriptions on a statue outside Blizzard’s HQ in California, which read ‘think globally’ and ‘every voice matters’, were covered up by members of the Blizzard team to symbolise what many see as the company’s betrayal of its core values.
Blizzard is one of a growing number of multinational companies to become embroiled in Hong Kong’s political crisis. North America’s basketball league, the NBA, lost many of its major Chinese sponsors after its general manager Daryl Morey wrote in a since-deleted tweet: “Stand with Hong Kong.” Apple has also come under attack from the Chinese state media for hosting a mapping app commonly used by Hong Kong protestors.