- Blizzard risks triggering a fresh censorship furore after banning three more ‘Hearthstone’ players from participating in tournaments after the trio held up a sign supporting the ongoing Hong Kong protests.
- Casey Chambers, Corwin Dark and a third player who goes by the online moniker TJammer held up the sign towards the end of a livestreamed match – the sign read ‘Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz.’
- Blizzard has been accused of trying to appease China after punishing tournament players voicing support for the Hong Kong protests. The firm is part-owned by Chinese gaming giant Tencent.
- Chambers tweeted to say he was “happy to announce” the ban, in an apparent mockery of Blizzard’s actions.
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Blizzard is embroiled in a fresh censorship controversy after banning three more ‘Hearthstone’ players for supporting the Hong Kong protests during a tournament.
The US games giant, which develops ‘Hearthstone’, banned three college players from taking part in tournaments for six months after they held up a sign during an official competition stream last week which read: “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz.”
All three competitors – Casey Chambers, Corwin Dark and a third member who goes by the online moniker TJammer – are members of an esports team called American University. They were competing in the American Collegiate ‘Hearthstone’ championship when the incident took place.
YouTube user Bryant Lurango posted a video of the stream to YouTube:
The trio were on the verge of losing a match before they wielded the sign. Blizzard’s camera then cut away, and the casters carried on as if nothing had happened.
Though Blizzard initially took no action, Chambers, Dark and TJammer were scheduled to play again in the Collegiate tournament, forcing Blizzard to play its hand. It promptly informed the three players of its decision to ban them via email on Tuesday, player Casey Chambers confirmed.
Read more: The banned ‘Hearthstone’ gamer at the centre of a China censorship furore spoke out for the first time after Blizzard reduced his ban
Chambers – who goes by the in-game moniker ‘Xcelsior’ – tweeted about the incident on Tuesday.
In the tweet, he appeared philosophical about the decision, writing: “happy to announce the AU Hearthstone team received a six month ban from competition. While delayed I appreciate all players being treated equally and no one being above the rules.”
—Casey Chambers (@Xcelsior_hs) 16 October 2019
The tweet also screenshotted the email Chambers received from Blizzard, which read:”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, an official broadcast needs to be about the game and the competition, and to be a place where all are welcome.”
In a statement about the ruling on its website, Blizzard said the players had been for “engaging in behavior disruptive to the official esports broadcast.”
The games firm’s tough stance comes despite a week of intense political and media scrutiny for banning another professional ‘Hearthstone’ competitor, Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai, who yelled “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” during a live post-game interview.
Blizzard was accused of trying to appease China by censoring the player. The game firm is part-owned by Chinese gaming giant Tencent. Blizzard has denied that China influenced its decision.
The firm banned Blitzchung for a year and confiscating his prize money, but softened its stance after considerable public outrage. Up to 30 employees at Blizzard’s parent company, Activision Blizzard, reportedly walked out of work in protest.
Though Blizzard appeared to make some concessions, halving Blitzchung’s ban to six months and reinstating his winnings, the company has since become the target of memes and mockery on social media.