Brent H. October 9, 2019
Hearthstone GrandMaster Ng "blitzchung" Wai Chung voiced his support for the protesters that have been demonstrating in Hong Kong throughout 2019. Now, others within the trading card game community are voicing their support for him.
Gods Unchained, a digital trading card game, is backing blitzchung by offering him a spot in a tournament it is planning.
“Blizzard just banned blitzchung and stripped his Hearthstone winnings because they care about money more than freedom,” the developers said in a statement. “We will pay for ALL his lost winnings and a ticket to our $500,000 tournament. No player should be punished for their beliefs.”
The $500,000 tournament that they refer to is the God Unchained World Championship. The date for the tournament has not been determined, but the website says it will take place sometime near the launch of the game near the end of 2020.
The World Championship prize pool is a progressive one, similar to Dota 2’s The International. The company says that 10% of all pack sales are directly added to the prize pool for the Gods Unchained first World Championship Tournament.
Earlier this week, Blizzard announced that it had placed harsh sanctions on blitzchung. Citing the Grandmasters Official Competition Rules, Blizzard issued a one-year ban from Grandmasters, removing blitzchung from season two of competition and reducing his prize total for the season to zero dollars.
To date, blitzchung has won more than $15,000 playing Hearthstone. He was 6-8 on the season and in seventh place in Group B of the Hearthstone Grandmasters Asia Pacific division.
The decision by Blizzard was met with overwhelming backlash from casual as well as competitive players. The publisher quickly locked down the comments section of the announcement, which was followed by the Blizzard subreddit being briefly set to private after it was flooded by fans criticizing the company and posting guides on how to delete Battle.net accounts.
Blizzard’s decision comes at a time when China leveraging its control over western companies. A social media post by a Houston Rockets executive that expressed support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong saw a number of Chinese companies and institutions cut ties with the Rockets, and NBA as a whole.
This was followed by an episode of South Park criticizing American companies’ willingness to bow to the whims of the Chinese government. The show was then scrubbed off of the Chinese internet.
Blizzard has undoubtedly heard the backlash at this point, but only time will tell if the negative publicity impacts them enough to sacrifice some of their bottom lone.