Hong Kong native Ng "blitzchung" Wai Chung has signed with the pro Hearthstone team Tempo Storm, clearly signaling that he's going to continue his career in the game once his ban has run its course.
"I had been thinking about whether to continue my Hearthstone career in the past few weeks," blitzchung said as reported by Polygon. "Since I haven’t reached my professional goals yet, and I don’t want to fall by the wayside, I will start competing again after I am unbanned."
If you've missed the recent Hearthstone kerfuffle, here's the simple breakdown: blitzchung had uttered a pro-Hong Kong slogan during a post-match livestream interview during an official Hearthstone tournament, an action which resulted in a 12-month ban and forfeiture of his winnings. (That punishment was subsequently reduced to six months and Blizzard Entertainment promised to pay him his winnings.)
The banning — seen by some as prioritizing Chinese sensibilities over American values of freedom of speech — led to a number of problems for Blizzard Entertainment. The American University college Hearthstone team did a protest of their own, forfeited the season, and subsequently also received a six-month ban (and relayed a harsh statement, to boot). A bipartisan group of United States Senators penned a letter to Activision over the incident, and Mitsubishi Taiwan recently announced that they were cancelling their sponsorship of an upcoming event.
Tempo Storm Speaks in Defense of blitzchung
Tempo Storm must have seen something special in blitzchung since they've elected to bring him on board as one of their players. While he's banned from competitive Hearthstone play in any form, he's going to be using the time to represent their brand and work on becoming a bigger streamer. The professional Hearthstone team also has something to say in defense of their new player.
"We believe first and foremost in supporting players and encouraging them to engage and to speak out on the things about which they are most passionate,” said Tempo Storm's CEO Andrey Yanyuk in a statement. “In many ways, we value the character and integrity of our players as much as, if not more than, their tournament placings."
"Blitzchung brings incredible talent, an infectious personality, and a great deal of enthusiasm, for Hearthstone as well as his community and others around him," Mr. Yanyuk concluded. "He exemplifies what Tempo believes in, and we welcome him as an ambassador for our brand."
What do you think of blitzchung joining Tempo Storm? Do you think he will be able to help the team elevate their brand? Let us know in the comments below!