Videogame giant Blizzard Entertainment partially walked back its punishment Monday for a professional Hearthstone player who expressed support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Blizzard President J. Allen Brack said the company had “reacted too quickly” when it withheld earnings from Chung Ng Wai, who goes by the name “Blitzchung,” and banned him from competing for a year.
JUST IN: Blizzard President J. Allen Brack releases statement, says blitzchung and the casters will have their suspensions reduced to six months and blitzchung will be awarded all of his prize money back pic.twitter.com/g1Blouf35p
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 12, 2019
Under the reduced punishment, Blitzchung is allowed to keep his earnings and is only banned for six months. Brack argued in the post announcing the reduction that Blizzard’s punishment would’ve been the same for a political display of any type. Blitzchung, who resides in Hong Kong, also released a statement responding to the reduction, according to PC Gamer.
“First of all,” he wrote, “I’m grateful for Blizzard reconsidering their position about my ban. Earlier this week, I told media that I knew I might have penalty or consequence for my act, because I understand that my act could take the conversation away from the purpose of the event. In the future, I will be more careful on that and express my opinions or show my support to Hong Kong on my personal platforms.” (RELATED: All Of The NBA’s China Partners Have Severed Their Relationships)
Blitzchung’s original offense was donning a mask and goggles during a post-game interview at a tournament in Taiwan and saying “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our age.” The two commentators conducting the interview could be seen ducking off screen when they realized what he was protesting. Blizzard fired them, but has reduced their punishment to a suspension of six months.
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Blizzard’s debacle with China has run parallel with the NBA’s handling of Houston Rocket’s Manager Daryl Morey tweeting out support for Hong Kong protesters as well. China immediately condemned the tweet and sponsors began pulling out in fear of losing business permits in China. The NBA has hitherto cooperated fully with the Chinese government.
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr went so far as to equate China’s human rights abuses with issues in America after being asked whether he’s spoken about human rights issues in his travels to China.
“No. Nor has [America’s] record of human rights abuses come up either,” he said. “People in China didn’t ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall.”