Chung Ng Wai, a professional gamer from Hong Kong, has faced severe repercussions for voicing support toward the Hong Kong protests during a live post-game interview. He has been banned for a year from playing in Hearthstone tournaments and also forced to forfeit $10,000 in prize money.
This comes from Wai's violation of Hearthstones Grandmasters rules, where Grandmasters are not allowed to 'offend' a portion of the public or anyone that would otherwise damage Blizzard's overall image. Once done, they will reduce any prize money to $0 and remove them from the Hearthstone Grandmasters.
As expected, the reactions of those who aren't Chinese have been predominately negative. Even at Blizzard Entertainment, a small group of employees have walked out of work, expressing support for the those protesting for democracy in Hong Kong.
“The action Blizzard took against the player was pretty appalling but not surprising,” a longtime Blizzard employee told The Daily Beast. “Blizzard makes a lot of money in China, but now the company is in this awkward position where we can’t abide by our values.”
Blizzard have also commented on the issue, stating that they are 'assessing' the situation. They are probably hoping that the whole thing blows over, just like the Chinese government has been hoping the Hong Kong protests would do for months. For Activision Blizzard, who has a major business partner in Tencent (who also owns 5% of the company), it appears to be perceived as very important due to the Chinese market's investment in esports and their mobile games that do well in the Chinese market. That said, decisions like noted Hearthstone player and caster Brian Kibbler protesting the ban by no longer hosting the Hearthstone grandmasters at Blizzcon aren't helping it go away.
For more updates, be sure to keep your eyes peeled to TechRaptor as we continue to update this developing story.
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