Blizzard Bans Three College Hearthstone Protesters For 6 Months
Three Hearthstone players from American University in Washington, D.C. have received six month bans for holding a “Free Hong Kong, boycott Blizz” sign during their Hearthstone Collegiate Championship match on Oct. 8. When three 19-year-old college Hearthstone players held up a “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz” sign during an official competition stream, they knew what they were doing. The move came only days after Blizzard created an international political incident after a high-profile player staged a protest in the same manner. They were asking Blizzard to blink: ban us, too.
Similar to Blitzchung’s ban, the three college players didn’t receive word about their ban until a couple of days after they held up the sign.
Team player Casey Chambers tweeted out an email from a member of the Hearthstone team at Blizzard, which stated that the entire team received the ban for violating the company’s official rules. Chambers and his teammates specifically violated a section of the rules pertaining to sportsmanship, which states that players must refrain from performing any gesture that insults a group of people or could incite others to act in a way that is “abusive, insulting, mocking, or disruptive.”
Chambers published the email the team received from Blizzard notifying them of the ban on their Twitter account.
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. pic.twitter.com/mZStoF0e0t
— Casey Chambers (@Xcelsior_GU) October 16, 2019
“This is a notification that your conduct on the official broadcast for the Collegiate Hearthstone Championship on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, violated rule 7.1B… We expect all players to follow the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship rules.”
According to Blizzard’s rulebook, rule 7.1B refers to how “Participants may not take any action or perform any gesture directed at another Participant, Tespa Admin, or any other party or incite others to do the same which is abusive, insulting, mocking, or disruptive.”
The suspension comes a week after the match a delay criticized by Chambers previously. Chambers told Polygon on Oct. 10 the team had received its match assignment for the next week and was “concerned by the hypocrisy of punishing blitzchung but not us.”
Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai was suspended last week for supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong during an official Hearthstone stream. Chung shouted “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time,” a slogan associated with the protests, before the broadcast cut away. Chung’s punishment came just days after his appearance on stream — but Blizzard later reduced his suspension to six months and return his earned prize money, $10,000 earned throughout the season.
Blizzard is just one of many companies facing scrutiny for its relationship to China amid unrest in Hong Kong. Protests in Hong Kong have been building since February, with protesters citing a proposed bill that would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited to China for trial as a core concern.
Blizzard hasn’t said anything since last week’s late night news dump, but BlizzCon, the company’s annual community event, is only weeks away. BlizzCon kicks off on November 1.