Blizzard’s Hearthstone eSports division has issued a six-month ban to the American University Hearthstone team after the trio of 19-year olds displayed a sign supporting the Hong Kong protest movement during an official live stream for the Collegiate Hearthstone Championship last week.
The suspension comes in the wake of widespread criticism against Blizzard as it stands a the center of political-charged debacle after banning Hearthstone pro player Ng ‘Blitzchun’ Wai Chung for openly supporting the protests during a Grandmasters live stream.
The three AU 19-year olds held up a sign reading ‘Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz’ and were fully expecting the bear the full brunt of the official rule book and land a lengthy ban. They were taunting Blizzard to highlight the hypocrisy of the company’s actions. But, until yesterday, the protest had gone mostly unchallenged while Blitzchung landed a year-long ban less than a day on from his protest.
A week on from their onscreen show of defiance, American University member Casey ‘Xcelsior’ Chambers took to Twitter yesterday to share a screen grab of an email from the Heartstone eSports team, notifying that a six-month suspension has been ruled for violating rules linked to sportsmanship and professionalism . Blizzard’s interpretation of the rules deems the AU university team’s actions as ‘abusive, insulting, mocking, or disruptive.’
In the official ruling, Blizzard says;
Every Voice Matters at Blizzard, and we strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the many places available to express themselves. However, the official broadcast needs to be about the game and the competition and to be a place where all are welcome.
As for the AU team, they are content with the decision. Blizzard aligns the ban to that of Blitzchung. Blizzard initially suspended the pro for one-year and rescinded all his prize money. Bowing to public pressure, Blizzard conceded and reduced the ban to half a year while also reinstating his tournament earnings.
Editor’s Note (11:30 GMT 10/17/2019) : The headline has been amended for clarity.