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Blizzard partly reverses punishment on Hong Kong Esports player by reducing suspension in half and reinstating winnings

Author: The Telegraph, Published on: 23 October 2019

“Pro gamer punished for supporting Hong Kong protests has prize money restored after international uproar”, 14 October 2019

Blizzard has partly reversed its punishment of an Esports player who spoke out in support of the Hong Kong protesters after a fierce backlash from fans, politicians and its own employees. Ng Wai Chung, known as Blitzchung, had been banned from competing in Blizzard's Hearthstone game for one year and stripped of all his winnings after shouting the protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times!" during a live-streamed post-match interview.

But the company, which has "Every Voice Matters" as part of its motto, said… that it would cut Chung's suspension in half and reinstate his winnings following an international uproar which led many players of its games to cancel their subscriptions…[A]fter consideration, the company had decided that six months was a "more appropriate" punishment and that he should still receive his prize money because his behaviour had taken place outside the game itself. Responding to the decision, Chung, who lives in Hong Kong and has previously declared that he has "no regrets" about the incident, said he was "grateful" to Blizzard for "reconsidering their position", but urged it to also completely rescind its punishment of two live stream Esports presenters who had hosted the broadcast… Blizzard's initial decision touched a nerve among video game fans, who began boycotting the game and launched a campaign to reappropriate one of Overwatch's characters, a Chinese woman named Mei, as a symbol of resistance. Some Blizzard employees also staged a walk-out.

An official Hearthstone social media account run by Blizzard's Chinese partner NetEase, which operates Blizzard's online games in China under licence, expressed "strong indignation and condemnation of the events" and promised to "protect our national dignity". Rival companies have taken differing stances. Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends, ordered its own players to "keep personal views on sensitive issues (political, religious or otherwise) separate" from their conduct in tournaments… By contrast, Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, declared that it would not ban or punish any players for speaking on the same topics… [Also refers to Tencent, NBA, Tiffany]

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Related companies: Blizzard Entertainment