Blizzard Entertainment’s Blitzchung disaster

Though games can be a refuge from politics, players are entitled to express their opinions just like everyone else


Blizzard Enertaiment

When the winning player of the Grandmasters Hearthstone Tournament made a statement supporting Hong Kong’s protests on October 6, Blizzard Entertainment found themselves at the center of a free speech debate.

Hayley DuHamel, Staff Writer

Over the past couple of months, the American gaming publisher Activision Blizzard has been dealing with a PR nightmare of their own making. 

On October 6, at the end of a stream of the Grandmasters Hearthstone Tournament in Taiwan, the professional “Hearthstone” player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung put on a mask like the ones used in the recent Hong Kong protests and said “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times!” while the two broadcasters hid under their desk. 

Everything just went downhill from there. 

The day after, on October 7, Blizzard banned Chung from playing in the Grandmasters tournament for a whole year, took away all of the prize money he earned during this season, and fired the two broadcasters.

When all of this was released to the public, many people—Blizzard employees and fans alike—became upset and rioted online about boycotting Blizzard and deleting their online accounts. They even started to use the beloved “Overwatch” character Mei, who is Chinese, as the symbol for their protests by depicting her with an umbrella, and a face mask both of, which are well known as symbols of the Hong Kong protests.

Many Blizzard employees who staged a walkout protest at Blizzard Headquarters carrying umbrellas. There were also two Grandmasters “Hearthstone” casters who quit because of Blizzard’s Hong Kong policy. 

The drama attracted the attention of senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida). According to Wyden, “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck.” Rubio added, “Recognize what’s happening here. People who don’t live in China must either self censor or face dismissal and suspensions. China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in U.S. politics today is gone.” 

If your decision makes Democrats and Republicans come together to repremand you, then you know you messed up really badly.

What Blizzard did was wrong because it is a violation of the freedom of speech. Chung did not break any of Blizzard’s rules or go against their standards, and his punishment did not fit the crime.

Blizzard explained that they banned Chung because what he did was in violation of the Grandmasters Tournament rules, being that he was not allowed to do anything that would disrupt the match or offend anyone. But, he didn’t do or say anything that would fall under any of that criteria.

Blizzard has more recently reduced both Chung’s and the two fired casters’ suspension to six months and gave Chung back his prize money, but they shouldn’t have punished him at all because he was just calling for the freedom of his home, Hong Kong. Likewise, the two broadcasters didn’t do anything to deserve being fired or suspended. They just ducked under their desk knowing that Chung was going to say what he said. This is a violation of the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Being one of several American companies who bow down to China and it’s censorship due to the Chinese market being worth its weight in gold, Blizzard gave Chung, and those who were present during the stream, a punishment so harsh it is as though China was acting through Blizzard.