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?
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.