Another day, another Activision subsidiary acting in a heartless, sociopathic manner.
The Hearthstone 2019 Grandmasters took place this week, and very likely the only thing the public will remember of it once all is said and done is that Blizzard once again kowtowed to an abusive dictatorship because that sweet, sweet cash is just to hard to pass up. Oh and depending on who you ask the Chinese public is one of the only things keeping the dreadful Overwatch League capable of presenting any numbers to rake in those sign on fees.
In case you’ve been living under a rock or more likely sleeping for these past six or seven hours, Blizzard is taking some blows to the noggin after how they handled one of their competitors in the Hearthstone Grandmasters. Pro player Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai went on an interview in which he shouted “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our age!” In case you’ve really been living under a rock, feel free to peruse this BBC summary of the last few months.
Blizzard’s response was to immediately act like the regime it bowed to and take out not only blitzchung but any witnesses within reach. The company released a statement that not only has Blitzchung been removed from the Grandmasters and banned for one year, but that his winnings will be forfeited for offending the dear leaders of China, and as the only other people on screen at the time of the statement, the two hosts would be fired as well.
“Effective immediately, Blitzchung is removed from Grandmasters and will receive no prizing for Grandmasters Season 2. Additionally, Blitzchung is ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020. We will also immediately cease working with both casters.”
Yea, the guys who dove under the table to hide from the comments? They need to be punished for their…crimes. Blizzard justifies the firing by pointing to this provision of their player agreement, and sure. Why not. They also zapped the VOD from their website so people (read: China) might not hear the offending words.
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.
Is Blizzard within their legal right to fire the player? I’ll give a 99% vote of confidence that yes if brought before a court that Blizzard would come out victorious. Obviously the company knows that their decision won’t go down well considering Tencent owns a stake in Activision and this isn’t the first time Blizzard has flushed its integrity down the toilet to appease a violent dictatorship. They have completely silenced any direct response to the article. This hasn’t stopped the Hearthstone Reddit from blowing up in anger and announcing that they are quitting the game.
I’d like to leave Blizzard with a thought, like Andy Rooney might. The world will move on but in three weeks you will be hosting Blizzcon. If you thought your employees shouting “do you not have phones” was embarrassing, just wait until people get up to that microphone and start grilling them on the really tough questions.
Oh and to the game bloggers who might be drafting up those articles to put up a defensive wall around Blizzard and China. You’re being watched.
Otherwise I have no opinion on the matter.