Understanding Why Blizzard Suspended Hearthstone Player Blitzchung

Let’s be honest. Way too many people in the U.S. don’t really pay attention to events happening outside of the U.S.

That’s why the Blizzard gaming community was caught off-guard with the suspension of Hearthstone player, Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung and two commentators on the last night of the Hearthstone Grandmasters. If you don’t understand what’s happening with Blizzard Entertainment and why they suspended Blitzchung, we’re here to break it down for you.

What did Blitzchung do?

On the third day of Grandmasters, after Chung’s last game, he appeared live on the official Tawainese Heartstone channel and said, in Chinese, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” The two commentators put their heads down on the desk because they were nervous, after encouraging Blitzchung, in Chinese to “Say the words.”

Blizzard Entertainment responded to Bliztchung’s statement by suspending him and the commentators for one year, effective immediately.

Blizzard released a statement citing a rule that’s vague and administered “at [their] discretion.”

Many in the gaming community express outraged.

Many long-time fans of Blizzard Entertainment and just gamers in general, expressed their disappointment in the action they took against Blitzchung and the commentators. Social media is ablaze with people calling Blizzard slaves to China and Communist lackeys with the #BoycottBlizzard.

U.S. corporations working in China is nothing new. However, Blizzard seems heavily reliant on having a presence in China. Blizzard’s decision is being blamed on its reliance on China for a huge chunk of its revenue, as “Blizzard’s Overwatch League includes four teams based in China, and the company is 4.9% owned by Tencent.” Blizzard’s actions are being compared to that of the China’s handling of Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey.

Side: “Daryl Morey posted an image on Twitter that included the words ‘Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.’” Tencent Holdings suspended their streaming of Houston Rockets games in China as the Chinese Consulate General in Houston told the NBA that they needed to “correct the error.”

In a video “Blizzard INSTANT REGRET! People Quitting, Boycotting & More” TheQuartering passionately pleads that “ This is about a U.S. company willfully doing the bidding of an overbearing censorious company.”

Global players are using Mei as the mascot for the Hong Kong Protesers in solidarity with Blitzchung and a blitzing a gamer revolution to stand with Hong Kong.

Gods Unchained even stepped in to offer their support for Blitzchung.

A spokesperson for Epic Games gave a statement to The Verge:

Epic supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights. We wouldn’t ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics.

The Breakdown: Why Hong Kong’s Protests Are Important

Many gamers didn’t even know there had been protests raging on in the streets of Hong Kong for almost half a year. Here’s how it started.

April 2019, an extradition bill was proposed to extradite suspected criminals to mainland China, under certain circumstances. Opponents of extradition feared that it would expose the people of Hong Kong to unfair trials and violent treatment, allowing China greater influence over Hong Kong. They fear it could be used to target activists and journalists. Though, in June, Hong Kong mayor Carrie Lam said that the bill was suspended tensions were already high.

What do the protesters want?

Hong Kong has never been an independent country. When Hong Kong has maintained separate governing and economic systems from mainland China, ie, “one country, two systems". Protestors want to maintain their semi-autonomous state. Proposals such as The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Bill seeks to undermine that.
According to BBC News, the protestors want the following:

  • Withdrawal of the "riot" description used about the protests

  • Amnesty for all arrested protesters

  • An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality

  • Universal suffrage for the elections of the chief executive and Legislative Council, Hong Kong's parliament.

Whether you’ve been following the turmoil in Hong Kong for months or you’ve only just learned about it, understand this: Silencing people’s calls for freedom on their terms is what dictatorships and the companies they own do.

We don’t know if boycotting Blizzard will work, especially when gaming is such a powerful, therapeutic tool and Blizzard developers create these beautiful games that allow people to escape. We only know that Blizzard Entertainment will stand on the wrong side of history on this one.