Being banned from Blizzard’s Hearthstone Grandmaster tournament wasn’t enough to deter Tempo Storm from signing Wai Chung “blitzchung” Ng.
In fact, it was blitzchung’s choice to boldly support Hong Kong’s ongoing protests on a post-match interview that drew Tempo Storm to the professional Hearthstone player.
“We believe first and foremost in supporting players and encouraging them to engage and to speak out on the things about which they are most passionate,” Tempo Storm’s CEO Andrey “reynad” Yanyuk said.
According to reynad, Tempo Storm values “character and integrity” over tournament placements. For this reason, blitzchung seemed like the perfect fit. While he mentioned his “incredible talent,” reynad also noted his “infectious personality” and enthusiasm for the game as reasons Tempo Storm couldn’t help but sign the player despite the controversy.
“He exemplifies what Tempo believes in, and we welcome him as an ambassador for our brand,” reynad said.
“It has been my dream to be a part of Tempo Storm and I am excited to join the team, as it is one of the best in Hearthstone,” blitzchung wrote on the signing.
In the offical press release, the organization described blitzchung as a Hong Kong native who has been making waves throughout the esports community for his “statements in support of the region’s protests and his subsequent 6-month suspension by Activision Blizzard as a result.”
Tempo Storm apparently wanted to provide support to blitzchung by signing him. The organization then noted their own “unwavering committment and advocacy” for Hearthstone players and content creators.
While under Tempo Storm, blitzchung will focus on streaming and training until he can compete in a major tournament once again.
“I had been thinking about whether to continue my Hearthstone career in the past few weeks. Since I haven’t reached my professional goals yet, and I don’t want to fall by the wayside, I will start competing again after I am unbanned,” blitzchung explained.
blitzchung ban leads to ongoing controversy for Blizzard
After the game developers decided to ban blitzchung for standing up for Hong Kong, there has been a lot of anger within the gaming community and overall industry. Gamers have continuously criticized Blizzard for silencing their players and employees, even leading to a protest which is set to take place at BlizzCon.
Canceling events to avoid further protests and locking subreddits and comment threads has only angered the gaming community further.
Blizzard’s alleged desire to please China by stomping on freedom of speech has even gained attention beyond the video game industry. Five politicans, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have signed a letter condemning Blizzard’s actions.
“As China amplifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide whether to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values — like freedom of speech and thought — or to give in to Beijing’s demands in order to preserve market access,” said part of the letter addressed to Blizzard.
Blizzard continues to deny that their decision to ban blitzchung had anything to do with the politics in China. Instead, they are claiming that they simply do no tolerate social issues in their esports broadcasts. This is in spite of Blizzard championing select social issues during their esports events, most notably including the annual pride celebration.