Video game maker Blizzard suspended Blitzchung, an e-sports competitor, after he made a pro-Hong Kong appeal during a live interview. (Photo: Blizzard)
A Hong Kong esport athlete has been suspended from the competition for protesting Chinese control over the semi-autonomous city.
And the game maker's actions caught the attention of US lawmakers.
Ng Wai Chung, who uses the nickname "Blitzchung" when playing the game "Hearthstone, "put on a gas mask and declared:" Release Hong Kong. Revolution of our age! "during a postpartum video interview.
"As you know, there are serious protests in my country now. My call was just another form of protest participation that I want to draw more attention to," he said. Inven Global esports website on Sunday after interview. The player lists his hometown as Hong Kong in Hearthstone website.
Activision Blizzard, which publishes the game and holds international competitions, including the Asia-Pacific Grand Masters in which Blitzchung was participating, banned the player for a year, saying he had violated the organization's rules.
Blitzchung Actions, the company said in an ad, Has violated a rule that "Participating in any act that, at Blizzard's sole discretion, causes you to discredit the public, offend part or group of the public, or damage Blizzard's image will result in the removal of Grandmasters and the reduction of the prize pool. $ 0 player, plus other features that can be provided under the Blizzard Handbook and website. "
– Inven Global 🎃 (@InvenGlobal) October 6, 2019
The game publisher also severed ties with the two videocasters who had hosted the interview. A Hearthstone player noted that the pitchers actually encouraged Blitzchung.
Clarification: The casters asked / encouraged Blitzchung to say what he said in Mandarin (if you did not understand the clip). They said, "Say the eight words, and we'll finish the interview right away." Then they hid under the table.
– Chua Zhihong (@czhihong) October 8, 2019
Blizzard said in its announcement that while it has the right to "express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants who choose to participate in our e-sports competitions must comply with the official competition rules."
But some lawmakers do not calm down. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Said: "No American company should detect the need for freedom to make money quickly."
Blizzard shows that it is willing to humble itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor freedom requests to earn money quickly. https://t.co/rJBeXUiwYS
– Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) October 8, 2019
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, in his own tweet, called the action a signal "China using market access as a lever to crush freedom of expression around the world."
Recognize what is happening here. People who do not live #China must self-censor or face dismissal and suspensions. China using market access as a lever to crush freedom of expression worldwide. The implications of this will be felt long after everyone in US politics today is gone. https://t.co/Cx3tkWc7r6
– Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 8, 2019
This action occurs as the NBA finds itself in controversy with China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a deleted tweet in support of protesters in Hong Kong. The Chinese-born Hall of Fame played for the Rockets, which popularized the team in the country. The NBA is trying to promote a global audience and has two preseason games in China this week.
There are other aspects that unite the two incidents. Tencent, which has a 5% stake in Activision Blizzard, is also NBA's exclusive digital partner in China.
US companies are striking a balance in maintaining access to China's massive and lucrative public and addressing the country's socio-political differences.
"There are a lot of companies that are afraid of annoying China because of the risk of losing sales," said Wiltold Henisz, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, told USA TODAY sports columnist Jeff Zillgitt, who is covering this story.
Many followers of online sports have found fault with Blizzard for suspending Blitzchung.
A totally parallel NBA scandal is shaking the world of e-sports. Blizzard punishes a player from Hong Kong for expressing his support for the protests. It is an American company, but Tencent has a 5% stake. Have these things been a long time ago, time for USG to pay attention? https://t.co/env3Fy4lm4
– Paul Mozur 孟建国 (@paulmozur) October 8, 2019
Esports consultant Rod Breslau, who noted Monday that Blitzchung had been suspended, said the online video of the interview was also deleted.
Blizzard did not respond to your request as to why the video was removed, tweeted Breslau.
Blizzard has not yet responded to the request for comment on why they deleted the VOD. the warmth the NBA is (deservedly) receiving from its response to the situation Morey will make Blizzard think twice about how they handle it
– Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 7, 2019
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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