Blitzchung and two casters from Taiwan have been removed from the Hearthstone Grandmasters program.
On Sunday, Blitzchung made a comment on the Asia-Pacific Grandmaster's stream in a post-match interview, while in a mask, stating "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age". Blizzard Taiwan removed the VOD containing the interview and it, rightfully so, caused a bit of a stir on reddit. Blizzard has now put up an official blog post on the matter, stating Blitzchung will receive no prize money and be banned for 1 year from the tournament series.
This is certainly troubling that a single country, China, can have this much of an effect on Hearthstone when they quite clearly violate basic human rights. Blizzard has a deep relationship with China with NetEase running all their games for the Chinese locale, and one thing they do in response to that relationship is refer to Taiwan as "Chinese Taipei", a move we don't copy here instead refering to the country as it should be, Taiwan. I've never been one that agrees with the mix of gaming and politics, but here we are.
Tencent, one of China's largest gaming companies, purchased a 5.023% share of Activision-Blizzard back in June of 2016. Tencent also owns 100% of Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends, 48.4% of Epic Games, and an unknown amount of Discord. Additional ownership information was recently covered on PCGamer.
In support of Blitzchung, many on reddit have stated they had their Battle.net accounts closed, are going to instead go to the F2P model, or will no longer be playing the game.
What are your thoughts on this?
Quote From Blizzard
During the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters broadcast over the weekend there was a competition rule violation during a post-match interview, involving Blitzchung and two casters, which resulted in the removal of the match VOD replay.
Upon further review we have found the action has violated the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules section 6.1 (o) and is individual behavior which does not represent Blizzard or Hearthstone Esports. 6.1 (o) is found below.
2019 HEARTHSTONE® GRANDMASTERS OFFICIAL COMPETITION RULES v1.4 p.12, Section 6.1 (o)
Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.
Grandmasters is the highest tier of Hearthstone Esports and we take tournament rule violations very seriously. After an investigation, we are taking the necessary actions to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
Effective immediately, Blitzchung is removed from Grandmasters and will receive no prizing for Grandmasters Season 2. Additionally, Blitzchung is ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020. We will also immediately cease working with both casters.
We’d like to re-emphasize tournament and player conduct within the Hearthstone esports community from both players and talent. While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules.
Uninstalled HS and canceled my WoW sub. I won't be spending any more money unless Blizzard properly addresses this.
I've been planning on taking a break from Hearthstone for awhile, and this seems like an opportune time. I'll still visit OoC each day to see the latest.
Is it true that Blizzard took 3 months to take actions against a dude that was caught cheating?
If a soldier says "f*ck the President" under work hours, expecially if talking to a mic, he'll be punished heavily. During his shift the soldier is not talking as himself alone but he represents the Army as a whole. In that moment you shouldn't talking about politcs: it's a part of being a professional.
Blitzchung used the visibility given him by Blizzard to talk about politics during his work time and he recieved a sanction for that. Blitzchung was suspended for having an unprofessional behavior during an official event hosted by Blizzard, under the rules the company decided and that he agreed with by taking part in the Grandmaster Tournament.
Does Activision Blizzard bow down because of China's money? Yes, of course. Is it a shame? Yes, indeed. But Activision Blizzard just enforced the rules that have been established and agreed on since the start between Activision Blizzard itself and Blitzchung.
Blitzchung's message is 101% right, but he was aware of the consequences and he's to praise for his action anyway. Activision Blizzard is just a company (looking for profit) and Heartstone is just one of its products: the wave of indignation that is spreading against it seems a bit hypocrital, mostly because the majority of those supporting it will continue to play Activision Blizzard's games and pay for the entertainment provied by them.
The fact that you equate "f*ck the President" with "free an oppressed population" shows what an intellecutally bankrupt argument this is. Additionally, they didn't cite a specific rule about making political statements -- they banned him under a rule that you can't "make Blizzard look bad." That's a totally subjective rule that forces people to make wild guesses about what falls under that umbrella. From where I'm sitting, it's BLIZZARD'S actions that are making them look bad today, not Blitzchung's.
Your suggestion that speaking out against Blizzard without boycotting them is "hypocritical" is really thin reasoning. People have different degrees of dismay with Blizzard's actions here. For some, it's worth boycotting them over. For others, it's worth publicly chastising them over. Neither feeling is more or less legitimate. We don't live in an "all or nothing" world.
Activision Blizzard doesn’t want to lose their licensing privileges in China, especially as they’re trying to expand their market into that country (remember Diablo Immortal?), so of course they’d try to cover China’s rear end. If they didn’t take action, China would have levied some punishments against Activision Blizzard themselves.
Does anyone seriously think a company would care more about morality and standing up to human rights abuses than their own money? Because that’s what this was all about. They threw Blitzchung under the bus to protect their profit margins.
Is it morally wrong? Absolutely.
If people want to send a message to Activision Blizzard then they've to make them loss even more money, forcing them to act again to procted their investments by doing what people actually want. For that purpose, words are just not enough and beliving otherwise is utopistic at best.
It's totally horrible but that's how things go nowdays.
Well we could all change our battletags to include like F.H.K (Free Honk Kong) or something in a show of support.
I'm very curious to see how Blizzard addresses this. Their forums, reddit, everything is in total uproar over this to a degree that I don't think they can hope for it to just blow over.
Honestly kinda troubled by the characterization of this as anti-China, its far closer to pro-Hong Kong. May just be personal biases here but anti-China sounds like exactly how the Chinese gov't is trying to cover the news out of Hong Kong, when in reality China is making anti-Hong Kong moves and Hong Kong is retaliating.
Guys, even though I don't agree with Blizzard, all these messages about quitting Hearthstone or moving to complete f2p are just several drops of whole player base.
Nothing gonna change in their company politics.
The only move, in my opinion, that can have some impact is for people who will come to Blizzcon to wear HK support t-shirts or any other /freedom of speech/ titles (saw it in another reddit tred).
I think both actions are potentially effective. Obviously not all of us are going to BlizzCon, but it’s definitely a good idea for those who are attending.
If you are going to Blizzcon. Then please wear pro Hong Kong shirts or picket with signs. Bring Winnie the Pooh or wear a mask like Bliztchung.
If Blizzard censors freedom of speech in the US it will be PR nightmare and do far more damage than quitting hearthstone.
If China scrubbed South Park and the Rockets from their servers after a week, imagine the fallout from people protesting at a major streaming event they support.
They offer him all of his lost money.
That's a disgrace.
Screw you Blizzard,
You lost your fanbase.
I would have accepted a message like:
"Hey man, we know you are impacted by this personally, but GM isn't the place for political messages or discussions. Please don't do this again, or we will have to remove you from GM."
It would be understandable. I also don't want politics in my games, they are escapism for me.
But what they did sends the message that they will shoot down not only the one sending the message but also everyone who listens to him. And that's unacceptable.
this is basically how I feel about it.
I can understand Blizzard not wanting to discuss politics durring GM, but the way they reacted was absurd.
They basically erased him from grandmasters and that kinda sent the wrong message.
Woah ... did HS suddenly got political?!
what happened to their free speech facade? they allow lgbt rights here and there but when it comes to human rights is a big NO because there is money involved????
Since before we became America, China has never , and will never have basic human rights or free speech unless they fight for it which they are attempting to do now, to little avail..
It shouldn't come to a surprise in this day and age of cancel culture where even companies have knee jerk reactions, to what could have been seemingly handled better.
I agree that politics should stay out of the gaming community, but at the same time we shouldn't turn a blind eye to injustices even if they do not directly effect us.
Today's the start of Doom in the Tomb, and I for one will still be playing hearthstone because I'm not going to allow a communist country to take something away from me that enjoy. Call me selfish..
I won't however watch Grandmasters anymore, and while this potentially hurts other hardworking players, they will choose to compete just as I choose to play.
Lets not pretend Blizzard is the only company to have decisions influenced by money, here's looking at Vans, the NBA, the Fashion industry. We are only talking about it because it happened to one of our own.
LGBT right are human rights, They just turn a blind eye to China because money.