Blizzard’s removal of Hearthstone pro Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung from the Grandmasters has prompted a backlash from players, not just of Hearthstone, many of whom are now boycotting the company.
The Grandmaster player was removed from the tournament after he called for the “liberation” of Hong Kong in a post-match interview. This, according to Blizzard, was a breach of the extremely broad tournament rules that allows the company to give players the boot for acts that, “in Blizzard’s sole discretion”, damage Blizzard or the player’s public image, or offend a portion of the public.
“As you know there are serious protests in my country now,” he said after the interview. “My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention.”
Blizzard’s decision means that Chung won’t receive anything for Season 2 and will not be able to compete in Hearthstone esports for a year. While Blizzard says it apparently stands by player’s right to express themselves, players still have to abide by the official rules—rules that largely forbid players from expressing opinions.
Supporters of the boycott are calling it an attack on free speech, voicing their discontent on Twitter with the a Boycott Blizzard hashtag and closing their wallets.
“Cancelled my subscription to World of Warcraft,” one player wrote. “I support young people proactively advocating for their freedom and democracy.”