Mere minutes ago, Blizzard released an official statement on the suspension of Hong Kong native and Hearthstone tournament winner, Blitzchung, after he expressed support for democracy protesters in his nation.
The statement – made by Blizzard President J. Allen Brack – began by re-affirming Blizzard’s commitment to its core ideals, specifically ” Think Globally; Lead Responsibly; and importantly, Every Voice Matters”.
They go on to state 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.” Blizzard felt this didn’t make everyone feel ‘welcome’, and deviated from a focus on the game.
The statement goes on to state that Blitzchung’s specific statements were not what caused the ban, and the company’s relationship with China had no influence on the decision, and claim that if the view had been made by someone in the opposition in the same way, they also would have banned. (It may be worth noting that recently, the American College team in their own Hearthstone tournament expressed support for Hong Kong and Blitzchung on Blizzard media, and it’s been confirmed they will face no punishment for the act.)
Continuing, Blizzard elaborates that as Blitzchung did win the tournament fairly, he will now receive his prize winnings. They also reduced the ban from one year to six months.
They also outlined that they are still penalising the casters. “With regard to the casters, remember their purpose is to keep the event focused on the tournament. That didn’t happen here, and we are setting their suspension to six months as well.”
The statement, which can be read in full here, will probably do little to head off what is sure to be a very awkward BlizzCon.