In a statement on his blog, Brian Kibler has announced that he will no longer be casting the Hearthstone Grandmasters finals at this year's BlizzCon.
After Blizzard banned Blitzchung from Grandmasters and removed his prize earnings for a political statement made on the weekend during Grandmasters, Brian Kibler has dropped out of casting the grand finals. He states he is no longer comfortable casting the event and will not be casting Grandmasters in the future unless something changes.
This high-profile disagreement comes after American University held up a "Free Hong Kong" sign during the Hearthstone Collegiate tournament, resulting in disabled cameras for the rest of the matches (stream clip), and someone at Blizzard covered up the "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters" portions of the Orc Statue on Blizzard's Irvine Campus.
Read on for the relevant part of Brian's statement, with the full text available here.
I won’t pretend to understand either the intricacies of the geopolitical situation in China and Hong Kong or the full extent of Blizzard’s business interests there, but to me this penalty feels like it is deeply rooted in both. The heavy-handedness of it feels like someone insisted that Blizzard make an example of Blitzchung, not only to discourage others from similar acts in the future but also to appease those upset by the outburst itself.
That kind of appeasement is simply not something I can in good conscience be associated with. When I learned about the ruling, I reached out to Blizzard and informed them that I no longer feel comfortable casting the Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon. I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision. Unless something changes, I will have no involvement in Grandmasters moving forward.
However, I want to make clear that not everyone involved in GM has this luxury. Do not take your anger out on the other casters, or streamers, or employees of Blizzard. This is not the kind of decision that comes from the rank and file. Most likely they’re just as angry as you are. I know I am.