Banned Hearthstone Blitzchung Doesn’t Regret Hong Kong Protest And He’d Do It All Over Again
Banned professional Hearthstone player Blitzchung has no regrets when it comes to speaking out in support of the pro-freedom protests in Hong Kong. Last year, Blizzard got itself embroiled in a controversy when it suspended several players and broadcasters for showing support to the Hong Kong protesters during sanctioned broadcasts. With the dust just beginning to settle, the player who sparked the whole uproar is sharing his thoughts on what happened for the first time. He says he’d do it all again.
On the subject of Blizzard, Blitzchung doesn’t feel much ill will toward Blizzard, seeing it as somewhat analogous to Hong Kong itself: disappointing, perhaps, but not hate-worthy. He’s more upset about the penalty assessed to the streamers hosting the event than about himself, although having taken the time to visit them both he was surprised to find that one of them was more worried about Blitzchung’s fate. You can check out the whole interview just below.
It wasn’t long ago that Blizzard was viewed as a crown-jewel developer in the world of gaming, but in the wake of the Blitzchung controversy, that perception has largely dwindled. Millions of fans were outraged by the fact that Blitzchung was banned for voicing support for Hong Kong, with many arguing that Blizzard was more interested in retaining a strong business relationship with China than they were with free speech. It wasn’t just ardent fans who were upset either, as multiple U.S. Senators and House Members criticized Blizzard in an open letter. Since Blitzchung’s ban, developers at Blizzard have spoken out against the actions of their employer, such as Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan, who said that the ban should be reversed.
“If I had a chance to go back, I would still do it,” the ousted player said. “Because it’s a must-do thing. I have to do it.”
While he feels like Blizzard “kind of” took appropriate action with him, he said that the suspension of the two commentators during his moment of protest was not fair.
He would like to see the broadcasters reinstated.
After backlash from the community and from within the company itself, Blizzard gave the prize money back and reduced Chung’s suspension to six months. When asked if he would like to receive an apology from Blizzard, Blitzchung said it was not necessary.
“No. I mean I don’t need that kind of stuff,” he said, chuckling. “Just, you know, actions speak louder than words.”
During his suspension, which ends in April, Blitzchung has taken time off from school as well. Because of the press attention he has received, he has become somewhat famous in China, which is not necessarily a good thing. The Communist regime is well-known for silencing dissenters.
“That thing being so public, that’s part of where my pressure comes from,” the pro-gamer said. “Like not only being under the spotlight but like when you’re more well-known, you’re more dangerous.”
It’s remarkable how Blitzchung has handled himself through this arduous period in his life. For as many supporters as Blitzchung has, there’s no doubt millions of detractors who vehemently disagree with him on his views of the future for Hong Kong. But it should be said that Blitzchung’s comments were never the problem, because it’s Blizzard who promises in their mission statement that “Every voice matters,” which is a sentiment that seems long lost to corporate interests.
He remains optimistic about Hong Kong’s future. He says he has hope when he sees “how many people are out there trying to protest.”
It’s an excellent interview, and deserves to be watched in its entirety (Video interview above / top): Despite the impulsiveness of the act that started his troubles, Blitzchung comes off as thoughtful, well-spoken, and quietly passionate about the future of Hong Kong throughout. He’s set to return to competitive Hearthstone play in April, as a new member of Tempo Storm.