Blizzard Reinstates Winnings Of Hearthstone's Blitzchung And Reduces Suspension

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Hearthstone winnings reinstated. Blitzchung official twitter.

Blizzard appears to have backtracked on the decision handed to Hearthstone player Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung. Blizzard made the decision to reinstante his winnigs for Grandmasters Season 2 and at the same time reduce his suspension from one year to six months.

Last week at the end a post-match interview, blitzchung pulled down his Hong Kong protester-style mask and shouted “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” The two Taiwanese casters conducting the interview had to hide themselves under a table before the stream cut to commercial.

It didn't take long for Blizzard to hand out a decision, citing that under the rules any player:

Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard's image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms. 

This resulted in blitzchung being removed from the Grandmasters and ruled that he would receive no money for Grandmasters Season 2. He would also be ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months beginning on October 5. In addition, the two casters who were interviewing blitzchung were fired.

Backlash from the community was just as swift with some taking up the hashtag #BoycottBlizzard and claiming the Blizzard was bowing down to China.

This change in Blizzard's decision was revealed by none other than Blizzard Entertainmment President J. Allen Brack. In a statement, Brack said that Blizzard wished the company "had a chance to pause, to listen to our community, and to reflect on what we could have done better. In hindsight, our process wasn’t adequate, and we reacted too quickly."

In the review conducted, since blitzchung was found to have played fair, he was eligible for the prize money he won. However, Brack added that playing fair also includes "appropriate pre-and post-match conduct, especially when a player accepts recognition for winning in a broadcast." Thus the six month suspension is appropriate.

Brack also made it clear in the same statement that "the specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision" and that the company's "relationships in China had no influence on our decision."

In a personal statement, blitzchung said he is grateful to Blizzard for reconsidering their position. In relation to the tournament prize, he apprciates the decision and that it was explained in detail by Blizzard "through a phone call." He added that he also appreciates the change in the suspension. However, he wished that Blizzard would "reconsider [about] their penalty on the two casters involved."

In the first statement, Blizzard said that they would stop working with the two casters. However in this new statement, Brack said that their purpose was to make sure that the focus was on the tournament and that did not happen. Blizzard has revised the casters' suspensions to six months as well.

Given the community's reaction and with BlizzCon 2019 just around the corner, the move from Blizzard is not that surprising. Let's see over the next few days if this move is enough to quell the anger of those in the community.

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