Blizzard Releases Statement, Reduces Blitzchung And Casters' Suspension To Six Months And Restores Blitzchung's Prize Money

Hobbes

Incident Manager
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
3,297
United States
UPDATE 10/12:

Blizzard employee confirms that Blitzchung will not be barred from competing in Grandmasters on Discord.


Blizzard's Statement

Hello Blizzard Community . . .

I want to take a few minutes to talk to all of you about the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament this past weekend. On Monday, we made the decision to take action against a player named blitzchung and two shoutcasters after the player shared his views on what’s happening in Hong Kong on our official broadcast channel.

At Blizzard, our vision is “to bring the world together through epic entertainment.” And we have core values that apply here: Think Globally; Lead Responsibly; and importantly, Every Voice Matters, encouraging everybody to share their point of view. The actions that we took over the weekend are causing people to question if we are still committed to these values. We absolutely are and I will explain.

Our esports programs are an expression of our vision and our values. Esports exist to create opportunities for players from around the world, from different cultures, and from different backgrounds, to come together to compete and share their passion for gaming. It is extremely important to us to protect these channels and the purpose they serve: to bring the world together through epic entertainment, celebrate our players, and build diverse and inclusive communities.

As to how those values apply in this case:

First, our official esports tournament broadcast was used as a platform for a winner of this event to share his views with the world.

We interview competitors who are at the top of their craft to share how they feel. We want to experience that moment with them. Hearing their excitement is a powerful way to bring us together.

Over the weekend, blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong—in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action.

Every Voice Matters, and we strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the many places available to express themselves. 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.

Second, what is the role of shoutcasters for these broadcasts?

We hire shoutcasters to amplify the excitement of the game. They elevate the watchability and help the esports viewing experience stay focused on the tournament and our amazing players.

Third, were our actions based on the content of the message?

Part of Thinking Globally, Leading Responsibly, and Every Voice Matters is recognizing that we have players and fans in almost every country in the world. Our goal is to help players connect in areas of commonality, like their passion for our games, and create a sense of shared community.

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.

We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took.

If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.

OK, what could Blizzard have done better, and where do we go from here?

Over the past few days, many players, casters, esports fans, and employees have expressed concerns about how we determined the penalties. We’ve had a chance to pause, to listen to our community, and to reflect on what we could have done better. In hindsight, our process wasn’t adequate, and we reacted too quickly.

We want to ensure that we maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all our players, and that our rules and processes are clear. All of this is in service of another important Blizzard value—Play Nice; Play Fair.

In the tournament itself blitzchung *played* fair. We now believe he should receive his prizing. We understand that for some this is not about the prize, and perhaps for others it is disrespectful to even discuss it. That is not our intention.

But playing fair also includes appropriate pre-and post-match conduct, especially when a player accepts recognition for winning in a broadcast. 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.

Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views.

One of our goals at Blizzard is to make sure that every player, everywhere in the world, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, or any other consideration always feels safe and welcome both competing in and playing our games.

At Blizzard, we are always listening and finding ways to improve—it is part of our culture. Thank you for your patience with us as we continue to learn.



Sincerely,



J. Allen Brack
President of Blizzard Entertainment


Incident Summary
On 6 OCT 2019, Activision Blizzard (Blizzard) announced the banning of professional Hearthstone player Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung from Hearthstone Grandmasters after Blitzchung vocally supported the Hong Kong democracy protests in a post-game interview. As a result, Blitzchung has had all prize money won during Grandmasters reduced to $0 USD, and has been banned from competitive play for one year. This action by Blizzard has caused a major backlash from Hong Kong citizens and people in major Western regions such as the United States and Europe.

Timeline of events:

October 6
  • Blitzchung calls for Hong Kong liberation after two casters requested that Blitzchung “say the eight words.”
  • Blizzard cuts to advertisements after Blitzchung’s statement.
October 7
  • Blizzard removes Blitzchung from Hearthstone Grandmasters, cites violation of section 6.1 of the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competion Rules, and reduces Blitzchung’s prize total to $0 USD.
  • Blizzard ends contracts with the two casters who requested Blitzchung voice support for Hong Kong.
  • Blizzard disabled comments on the news post announcing its ruling regarding Blitzchung.
October 8
  • Blizzard China defends banning of Blitzchung, states they will always “defend the pride of our country.”
  • American University holds up “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizzard” sign during Collegiate Hearthstone championship.
  • Mark Kern, former team lead on World of Warcraft and Gamergate supporter, announces support for Hong Kong and pledges to boycott Blizzard.
October 9
  • Blizzard employees stage walk out.
  • Brian Kibler resigns as commentator for Hearthstone, voices opposition to Blizzard’s handling of issue.
October 11
  • Blizzard releases statement, reducing Blitzchung's suspension and restoring all prize money.

If You’re Just Joining Us
Who is Blizzard?

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher based in Irvine, California, and is a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard.

What is Hearthstone?

Hearthstone is a free-to-play online digital collectible card game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment.

Who is Blitzchung?

Blitzchung is a professional Hearthstone player located in Hong Kong.

Why are people protesting in Hong Kong?

The 2019 Hong Kong protests, also known as the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (ELAB) Movement, are an ongoing series of demonstrations in Hong Kong which began with the aim to oppose the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill proposed by the Hong Kong government. If enacted, the bill would allow local authorities to detain and extradite criminal fugitives who are wanted in territories with which Hong Kong does not currently have extradition agreements, including Taiwan and mainland China. People were concerned that the bill would subject Hong Kong residents and visitors to the mainland Chinese jurisdiction, undermining the autonomy of the region and its civil liberties. As the protests progressed, the protesters laid out five key demands, which include investigation into the alleged police misconduct and resumption of democratic reforms which are promised in the Basic Law but have stagnated since the 2014 Umbrella Revolution. The Chinese central government has described the protests as "the worst crisis in Hong Kong" since the handover in 1997.

Why is Winnie the Pooh banned in China?

China's President Xi Jinping is often cited as being similar in appearance to Winnie the Pooh, and thus in 2018, China began censoring the character across China's internet.

Why is Mei being used as a symbol of the Hong Kong protests?

Hong Kong protestors and their supporters devised a tactic to reclaim Mei, the Chinese playable character in Overwatch, as a pro-democracy symbol.

What is “One Country Two Systems?”

"One country, two systems" is a constitutional principle formulated by Deng Xiaoping, the Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC), for the reunification of China during the early 1980s. He suggested that there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Macau could retain their own economic and administrative systems, while the rest of the PRC (or "Mainland China") uses the socialism with Chinese characteristics system.

Why did Blizzard bend the knee to China?

TBD.
 
Last edited:

minimaxir

Built an AI that makes better threads than you
Member
May 9, 2018
1,931
...a downgrade from permaban to 6 months isn't really a remedy. It's not really any difference in practice, as everyone involved would just go to another game in the meantime.
 

Slayven

I don’t know what you’re talking about
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
38,022
Damn they throwing dude under the bus hard, folks have done worse in esports and not gotten 6 months suspension
 

HockeyBird

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,880
Hey I got my prediction right. You're still a bunch of lying shits Blizzard. Of course China influenced your decisions.
 

Loxley

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,088
Welp, based on that statement, BlizzCon's going to be a circus.

Have fun Blizzard.
 
Nov 2, 2017
328
"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. "

That's why the casters were also fired and the Chinese branch of Blizzard in charge of it all said something to the effect of we will defend the honor of our country or some such shit.
 

DFG

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,833
Lol fuck off Blizzard. China definitely had no factor in your ban at all
 

Neoxon

Community Resettler
Member
Oct 25, 2017
27,823
Houston, TX
I guess that's something, but the damage has been done. They should have undone the ban entirely.

But that statement.......yikes.
 

JustinBB7

Member
Nov 16, 2017
713
Doubling down and only giving in to reducing it from a year to 6 months lmao. Casters didn't do shit and tried to hide the second he started.
 

TeenageFBI

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,620
That statement is so, SO bullshit. Fuck Blizzard, fuck Activision, fuck the Chinese government.

And honestly, fuck capitalism.
 

pompo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
196
They might as well have not released a response lol. They shouldn't be suspended at all.
 

LowParry

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,225
Blitz got his money. That's one good step. 6 months? That's like 3 steps back. They should of done like a month ban or just none at all. Ooooof. Blizzard. You fuckers are on the brink of death here. Break away from Activision already and get back to your roots.
 

Ketkat

Heart & Mind
Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,040
Well, there we go. Good on them making things right.
They didn't make things right at all. They're still punishing everyone involved and putting them all out of a job for 6 months. This is honestly a pretty terrible statement that ignores the fact that they didn't treat that college team the same way and that Blizzard China directly spoke out about how they're protecting the integrity of China.
 

Carbine789

Member
Oct 25, 2017
615
Yeah..... this fixes jack fuck. How about no suspension? And bullshit on China not having an influence! Such fucking lies!
 

SSJDio

The Fallen
Apr 13, 2018
5,777
Are they not merciful?

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.
[Laughs in Freedom of Expression]

Fuck Blizzard. Don't let them off the hook. Free Hong Kong.
 

Intraxidance

Member
Oct 25, 2017
627
It took this long to have China approve a six month suspension as proper punishment?

I'm done with these asshats.
 

DrArchon

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,607
...a downgrade from permaban to 6 months isn't really a remedy. It's not really any difference in practice, as everyone involved would just go to another game in the meantime.
Meantime nothing. No way he'd come back after 6 months knowing that they'd be willing to permaban him for his political statements.
 

flyinj

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,754
Hey guys you only go to prison for 5 years instead of 10 for talking about a foreign government.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,974
This is the definition of giving the appearance of backing down without actually backing down.

Keep an eye on their Chinese-language channels. Keep an eye on Weibo and on what Blizzard's regional office is telling the players there. Hold Brack to account for dodging what everybody else can see and has already seen. Stay vigilant; don't be fooled.