2019 Blizzard Boycott

2019 Blizzard Boycott

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Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 04:12PM EDT by Philipp.

Added Oct 08, 2019 at 11:38AM EDT by Philipp.

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Overview

2019 Blizzard Boycott refers to video game developer and publisher Blizzard Entertainment banning Hearthstone player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai from participating in Blizzard-organized Hearthstone tournaments for one year and stripping him of his winnings after he called for the liberation of Hong Kong during a post-game interview. Following the ruling, the company met a major backlash online, with multiple users announcing they would quit Hearthstone and boycott future Blizzard titles.

Background

On October 6th, 2019, following the final match of the group stage of Blizzard-organized GrandMasters 2019 Season 2 tournament,[1] professional Hong Kong Hearthstone player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai participated in a post-match interview with the casters. During the interview, Chung, who had just been eliminated from the tournament, shouted "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!", calling for the separation of Hong Kong, where a series of anti-China protests had been being staged for several months, from China.



Notable Developments

On October 6th, 2019, esports website Inven Global reported on the Blitzchung's interview,[2] with the tweet containing the recording of him shouting the phrase receiving over 3,300 retweets and 6,400 likes in two days (shown below).[3] The clip of the interview gained over 437,000 views on Twitter in the same period.




The VOD of the game has been subsequently deleted by Blizzard. In the following days, more news outlets reported on the interview and the removal of the VOD.[4]

On October 7th, 2019, Blizzard published a statement[5] in which the company announced that Blitzchung has been removed from the tournament and stripped of his winnings (3,000 USD). Additionally, Blitzchung has been suspended from participating in Blizzard-organized Hearthstone tournaments for a period of one year. The company also announced that they cease working with both casters who took the interview. The company quoted 2019 Hearthstone® Grandmasters Official Competition Rules v1.4 p.12, Section 6.1 (o) as the direct reason for the action.[6]

Online Reactions

Starting on October 7th, 2019, multiple news outlets reported on the story.[7] On October 8th, Redditor ChikaToChika made a post about Blitzchung being suspended by Blizzard in /r/worldnews subreddit, which received over 55,300 upvotes before being removed by the moderators.[8]

Starting on October 7th, multiple users on Twitter, Reddit and other online platforms made posts condemning Blizzard for punishing a player for voicing support for the Hong Kong's independence. Esports personality Rod "Slasher" Breslau highlighted that Blizzard disabled comments on their statement (shown below, top left).[9]


Rod Breslau @Slasher Blizzard has also disabled comments on the news which are normally open, and from scrolling back through hundreds of posts this is the only time they've done that can't imagine why Comments are disabled 10:48 PM 7 Oct 2019 Slayson @jasonthinks Replying to @Slasher American gamers are too busy being horny for Overwatch heroes to hold Blizzard accountable for this. 10:44 PM - 7 Oct 2019
Mikeymike @Mikeymik 190 Replying to @Slasher @D_BlackDgamer92 Blizzard is absolutely weak and pathetic. 10:50 PM - 7 Oct 2019 Justice @justice4none99 Replying to @Slasher I cannot possibly see how supporting protests in favor of democratic reform in an increasingly communist area of the world can be considered by Blizzard, an American company, to be damaging to the company's image. 11:32 PM - 7 Oct 2019

On October 7th, 2019, Twitter user @SanguineStorm tweeted #BoycottBlizzard, with the hashtag gaining popularity in the following hours.[10]


Delilah Withers @SanguineStorm Absolutely disgusting. @Blizzard_Ent has decided to support China who is currently committing a modern day holocaust. #BoycottBlizzard Rod Breslau@Slasher Breaking: Effective immediately, Blizzard has removed Hong Kong Hearthstone player blitzchung from Hearthstone Grand Masters, rescinded all his prize money, and have suspended him from pro play for one year for his recent interview.... Show this thread 11:30 PM 7 Oct 2019

On Reddit, Twitter and other platforms, multiple players announced that they would be quitting Hearthstone and abstaining from purchasing Blizzard games following the ruling.[11][12]


dedayoyo @dedayoyo1 This is my first tweet, becuz I'm too angry that Blizzard banned the Hong Kong Hearthstone Player. Blizzard only cares whatever makes them money I have spent a lot of money in this game, but I shall never do it again anymore. #boycottblizzard 銀行 Adobe Acrobat 尋找 GOGO 要刪除「爐石戰記」嗎? 重除此 App 會同時刪除其資料。 刪除 取消 ke 11:32 PM 7 Oct 2019 Posted by u/Poobs87 5 hours ago 6.0k Player since 2014, I quit today. Discussion My Wife and I have played Hearthstone for 5 years now, we still played daily. We loved the game, watched all the big PlayHearthstone tournaments. F------ Embarrassing Blizzard. I'd post a video of eating all my dust if people wanted, but as current I'm so over this that I don't even want to log in to do that.. Give your balls a tug Blizzard, support democracy you spineless mungs 97% Upvoted Give Award 377 Comments Share
TOGET ONGKONGEN Pikachuu HK @PikachuuHK Replying to @Blizzard_Ent Since your company remove the account of the Hong Kong player due to his speech for Hong Kong, we(some of the Hong Kong players) will remove all games of Blizzard in all platforms. #Hongkongers #boycottblizzard #FreeHongKong 1:58 AM -8 Oct 2019 PHAYLEN @phaylen Cancelled my subscription to World of Warcraft. I support young people proactively advocating for their freedom and democracy; They are shaping a better tomorrow. Punishing them for their activism is shameful #BoycottBlizzard 5. (Optional) Please tell us more about why you are cancelling your World of Warcraft subscription. "Blizzard suspends professional Hearthstone player following Hong Kong comments" The comments were not inflammatory. Censoring a young person for standing in solidarity with d championed. I don't support your company's choice to suspend him for his remarks. 210/500 characters remaining Return to Manage Subscription Continue English (US) 3:57 AM 8 Oct 2019

American University "Free Hong Kong" Sign

On October 8th, 2019, during an American Collegiate Hearthstone Championship between the teams of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and American University, member of the American University team held up a sign reading "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz," with the active stream overlay promptly adjusted to hide the message by the official PlayHearthstone stream.[13] On the same day, esports personality Rod "Slasher" Breslau tweeted the clip, with the post receiving over 7,000 retweets and 22,600 likes in 24 hours (shown below).[14] The video received over 424,000 views on Twitter in the same period.


In the following hours, multiple news outlets reported on the stream.[15]

On October 15th, 2019, American University Hearthstone team member Casey Chambers tweeted that Blizzard issued a six-month ban to the team quoting rule 7.1.B of the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship Fall 2019 Official Rules (tweet and ban message shown below).[20][21]


Casey Chambers @Xcelsior_hs Happy to announce the AU Hearthstone team received a six month ban from competition. While delayed I appreciate all players being treated rules. equally and no one being above the Notification inbox (1) Violation of rule: 71.B 71 Sportsmanship and Professionalism. HearthstoneAdmin 12:52 AM 1.B. Participants may not take any action or perform any gesture directed at another Participant, Tespa Admin, or any other party to me ar incite others to do the same which is abusive, insuiting, mocking, or disruptive Penalty: Hello Xcelsior, In accordance with section 9.2 A and B of the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship rules, Tournament Administration has decided to impose the following penalty for this rule violation. You are prohibited from participating in any Hearthstone This is a notification that your conduct on the official broadcast for The Collegiate Hearthstone Championship on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 violated rule 7.1B (cited below) of the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship Fall 2019 Official Rules located at https://bnetcmsus-a.akamaihd net/cms/content entry media/ 98/98EP04HKUVE91565623454873.pdf. We expect all players to follow the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship rules. Every Voice Matters at Blizzard, and we strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the or more members of a Team will be subject to penalty. The nature and extent of penalties imposed will be determined by Tournament Administration. All decisions of Tournament Administration regarding rules violations or other issues regarding the Tournament are final 2.B Penalties for rule violations will be assessed by Tournament Administration. These penalties wil vary, some examples being wamings, game fosses, to disqualification, in direct relation to the coueritu nf tho nffence and the nimhor nof 10:01 PM - 15 Oct 2019 . AT&T @ i 97% 12:53 AM Hearthstone Collegiate Championship - Ruling Notification Inbox HearthstoneAdmin 12:52 AM to me Hello Xcelsior, This is a notification that your conduct on the official broadcast for The Collegiate Hearthstone Championship on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 violated rule 7.1B (cited below) of the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship Fall 2019 Official Rules located at https://bnetcmsus-a.akamaihd. net/cms/content entry media/ 98/98EP04HKUVE91565623454873.pdf. We expect all players to follow the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship rules. Every Voice Matters at Blizzard, and we strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the many places available to express themselves. However, the official broad cast needs to be about the game and the competition, and to be a place where all are welcome. Infraction: (1) Vialation of rule: 71 B i 97% .l AT&T ee the official 12:53 AM the co petition and to ere all are welcome Infraction: (1) Violation of rule: 7.1.B 7.1 Sportsmanship and Professionalism. 1.B. .. Participants may not take any action or perform any gesture directed at another Participant, Tespa Admin, or any other party or incite others to do the same which is abusive, insulting, mocking, or disruptive. Penalty: In accordance with section 9.2 A and B of the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship rules, Tournament Administration has decided to impose the following penalty for this rule violation. You are prohibited from participating in any Hearthstone competitive tournaments (Blizzard operated, or 3rd party operated) for a period of 6 months beginning from October 8th, 2019 and extending to April 8th, 2020. Following the 6 months suspension, you may, at your discretion, continue to participate in Hearthstone esports. 9 2 Assessment of Penalties 97% 12:53 AM .lAT&T esports 9.2 Assessment of Penalties 2.A. Any violation of the Official Rules by one or more members of a Team will be subject to penalty. The nature and extent of penalties imposed will be determined by Tournament Administration. All decisions of Tournament Administration regarding rules violations or other issues regarding the Tournament are final. 2.B. Penalties for rule violations will be assessed by Tournament Administration. These penalties will vary, some examples being warnings, game losses, to disqualific severity of the offense and the number of offenses committed previously by the same ion, in direct relation to the team. Respectfully, Hearthstone Esports Team

Pro-Hong Kong Mei

On October 8th, 2019, Redditor batture made a post in /r/HongKong subreddit in which they suggested that Overwatch hero Mei, who, according to the Overwatch lore, is Chinese, should be made a pro-democracy symbol in order to get Blizzard's video games banned in China (post shown below).[16]


It would be sucha shame if Mei from Overwatch became a pro- democracy symbol and got Blizzard's games banned in China.

In the following hours, posts presenting Mei as a symbol of the Hong Kong protests gained popularity online on Reddit and other platforms. For example, an October 8th, 2019, post by Redditor FloL00L received over 58.400 upvotes in one day (shown below, left).[17] A Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions /r/memes post by Redditor yamideath gained over 130,000 upvotes in 13 hours (shown below, right).[18]


時代革命 反赤納粹 ANTI CHINAZI 對準政權 抗共求存 徒政 Takk Tikk |沒 只 CK 留,意返 五,唔係 Hong Kong Democracy Now FIVE DEMANDS NOT 0NE LESS 只有 安有: 五 大 訴 求 REC WEER FIGHT FOR FREEDOM STAND W HONG KONG STORM I There is a group of Blizzard fans trying to turn Mei into a Pro Hong Kong lcon to get the game banned in China. REC FIGHT FOR FREEDOM STAND BITH HONG KONG Modern problems require modern solutions

Blizzard's Statement and Return of the Prize Money

On October 11th, 2019, Blizzard Entertainment J. Allen Brack issued a statement on the reasons behind Blitzchung's punishment, claiming that the company's Chinese relationships had no influence upon the company's decision.[19]

The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.

Also in the statement, Blizzard announced that the company will pay out the prize money to Blitzchung, stating that the company "reacted too quickly." Additionally, the one-year suspension given to Blitzchung was decreased to six months, with the suspension period for the casters also set at six months.

Over the past few days, many players, casters, esports fans, and employees have expressed concerns about how we determined the penalties. We’ve had a chance to pause, to listen to our community, and to reflect on what we could have done better. In hindsight, our process wasn’t adequate, and we reacted too quickly.

Overwatch Nintendo Switch Launch Event Cancellation

On October 14th, 2019, Nintendo NY twitter account announced that the launch event planned for the release of the Overwatch version for Nintendo Switch was canceled by Blizzard.[22] In the thread, multiple commenters suggested that the cancellation was caused by the recent controversy.[23][24]

Search Interest

External References

[1] Liquipedia – GrandMasters 2019 Season 2 – Asia-Pacific

[2] Inven Global – Hong Kong player Blitzchung calls for liberation of his country in post-game interview

[3] Twitter – @InvenGlobal's Tweet

[4] PC Gamer – Hearthstone Grandmaster called for the liberation of Hong Kong in deleted post-match interview

[5] Play Hearthstone – Hearthstone Grandmasters Asia-Pacific Ruling

[6] Hearthstone® Grandmasters Official Competition Rules v1.4

[7] Kotaku – Blizzard Suspends Hearthstone Player For Hong Kong Support, Pulls Prize Money

[8] Reddit – Blizzard suspends hearthstone player for supporting Hong Kong

[9] Twitter – @Slasher's Tweet

[10] Twitter – @SanguineStorm's Tweet

[11] Reddit – Quitting HS over this nonsense. This is about more than just Hong Kong.

[12] Twitter – @phaylen's Tweet

[13] YouTube – Worcester Poly vs American University / Hearthstone Collegiate 10/09/2019

[14] Twitter – @Slasher's Tweet

[15] PC Gamer – Collegiate Hearthstone Championship match ends with call to 'free Hong Kong, boycott Blizz'

[16] Reddit – It would be such a shame if Mei from Overwatch became a pro-democracy symbol and got Blizzard's games banned in China.

[17] Reddit – Pro Hong Kong Mei inspiered by a post on here. Fuck Blizzard.

[18] Reddit – Hey Blizzard, I heard you like China's money ?

[19] Blizzard – REGARDING LAST WEEKEND’S HEARTHSTONE GRANDMASTERS TOURNAMENT

[20] Twitter – @Xcelsior_hs' Tweet

[21] Battle.net – Hearthstone® Collegiate Championship
Fall 2019 Official Rules

[22] Twitter – @NintendoNYC's Tweet

[23] Twitter – @DiscussKing's Tweet

[24] Twitter – @Dope_Danny's Tweet

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