eSports pro banned for speaking his mind
Blizzard takes away gamer’s earnings and bans him from Hearthstone
Just because you can speak your mind doesn’t mean you always should. A well-known eSports gamer found this out the hard way after comments he made related to Hong Kong led to his being stripped of his winnings and banned from the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament by Blizzard Entertainment. Sometimes it’s simply better to keep comments reserved to private circles.
Ng Wai Chung, going by Blitzchung as the representative for the Asia-Pacific region in the Hearthstone tournament, decided to speak up in support of the pro-democracy protests that are going on in Hong Kong. He was coming off a key win at the event, which meant that all eyes were on him, and he took advantage of the opportunity to don a gas mask and goggles, just like the Hong Kong protestors, and exclaimed, “Liberate Hong Kong” in Mandarin Chinese.
Blizzard then decided to ban the player, arguing that he had broken their rules against any action that brings “public disrepute” to the player or the organization. He was yanked from the event, won’t be eligible for any of the $10,000 in prize money that’s up for grabs and won’t be able to participate in any Hearthstone activity for a year.
Despite the decision by Blizzard, Ng stands by his actions. He hopes that it inspires others to do the same and states, “I sacrificed time hanging out with my friends and studying because of this competition. Even though it seemed that I had wasted four years of time, I have something more important in my heart — if we lose the movement, Hong Kong will end forever.”
A recent post by the GM of the NBA’s Houston Rockets in support of Hong Kong had even more damaging results. The NBA is in China for preseason exhibition games, but the local state-owned broadcaster canceled its coverage and pulled its sponsorship after GM Daryl Morley tweeted and subsequently deleted an image that read, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”