We reported this week
about a controversial response by Blizzard
towards the winner of a recent Hearthstone
esports event, suspending Ng Wai ‘blitzchung’ Chung
and stripping him of his prize money after he shouted support for the protests and protesters currently engaged in action in Hong Kong
. Backlash for the move went, for lack of a better term "viral", and today Blizzard's president J. Allen Brack
has responded to the publisher-developer's actions.
From a statement you can read in full here
, Brack exclaimed that "blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong—in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action", however, goes on to suggest that [Blizzard] "reacted too quickly". He also reiterates emphatically in the post that their actions had nothing to do with any stakes Blizzard has in China
(and by extension with Tencent Holdings Limited
). Brack also confirmed that they've decided to award blitzchung his rightful winnings because "in the tournament itself blitzchung *played* fair". They've also reduced his tournament participation ban from 12 months, down to six months. The casters who were also reprimanded have equally had their bans reduced down to six months.
So what does all of this mean?
It sets a dangerous precedent to the fledgling world of esports, but also reflects poorly on a progressive platform in gaming in general. The NFL
players who've been lambasted for taking a knee in silent protest during the American
national anthem, in concert with -- and in support of -- Colin Kaepernick
, who did so because of racial inequality are constantly berated for their actions. "Politics has no place in sports", is the usual line these things tend to filter out of the divide, but if we consider sports as an expression of skill, character and will, then surely there is
a place for personal viewpoints and character stance in an ever-connected world.
If we move to punish people for having an opinion that is wholly against oppression and want to strive towards equality, then what are we actually punishing?