Games developer and publisher Blizzard has removed Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai from its Grandmasters esports competition after the pro player called for the liberation of Hong Kong.
In a now-removed video of a post-match interview, Blitzchung said that China should liberate Hong Kong while wearing a gas mask and googles in the same vein as the protesters in the region.
Blizzard took the video down and has since booted Blitzchung from the Grandmasters - described as the highest tier of esports for Hearthstone - and said he will not be receiving any prizing from the Grandmasters' second season, citing its competition rules, in which the company says players should not:
"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 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."
Furthermore, from Saturday, October 5th, he is banned from taking part in any Hearthstone esports event. The company says it will also not be working with shoutcasters from the video again.
"As you know there are serious protests in my country now. My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention," Blitzchung said in a statement.
"I put so much effort in that social movement in the past few months, that I sometimes couldn't focus on preparing my Grandmaster match. I know what my action on stream means. It could cause me lot of trouble, even my personal safety in real life. But I think it's my duty to say something about the issue."
This comes after months of protests with the citizens of Hong Kong demanding independence from China.
It's worth noting that Activision Blizzard is part-owned by Chinese tech and entertainment giant Tencent, with fellow regional giant NetEase acting as Hearthstone's publisher in the country, which might well have played a role in Blizzard's decision to pull the aforementioned video. The decision also somewhat flies in the face of the company's messaging, which puts a focus on diversity and making the world a better place in games like Overwatch.