Since the suspension of Blitzchung on 8 October was announced, many people have raised their voices and given their opinions. They have come from the Hearthstone community, gaming in general, and even from certain politicians.
Brian Kibler — an experienced caster for Blizzard and Wizards of the Coast — has also spoken out. Being the kind of person who measures his words carefully in any situation, he talked about wanting to move away from his caster role until the situation has changed.
The following article summarizes his thoughts on the issue as he posted them on his blog.
Even so, I do think that Blizzard was correct in issuing him a penalty for his actions. They do not want to set the precedent for their official broadcasts being used as political tools. The players agreed to particular rules for behavior, and he violated those rules.
I have seen many descriptions of the situation claim that Blizzard took action against Blitzchung “for his support of the Hong Kong protests”, but that’s not an entirely accurate description. They did not penalize him for his political stance – they penalized him for breaking the rules by using their official broadcast to promote that stance.
Anyone who pays attention to my social media feeds knows that I am not someone who shies away from politics. I am frequently quite vocal about my views about what’s going on in the United States. I have kept a deck titled “Election 2016” in my collection for the past three years, full of cards like Corruption, DOOM, and Validated Doomsayer. I would rather risk alienating those who disagree with me rather than stay silent on matters I consider important.
He then discusses his situation as a Hearthstone caster, the punishment inflicted, and the fact that he does not necessarily possess the geopolitical knowledge to be able to talk about the actual facts. He then concludes by giving his feelings about the reasons that led to this heavy sanction.
All that having been said, there are additional factors at play here. The punishment meted out to Blitzchung is incredibly harsh. I could understand a fine, or even a short suspension from competitive play, but removal from Grandmasters, clawing back the prizes he already earned, and banning him for a full year seems completely overboard to an extent that feels completely unwarranted and unfair.
I won’t pretend to understand either the intricacies of the geopolitical situation in China and Hong Kong or the full extent of Blizzard’s business interests there, but to me this penalty feels like it is deeply rooted in both. The heavy-handedness of it feels like someone insisted that Blizzard make an example of Blitzchung, not only to discourage others from similar acts in the future but also to appease those upset by the outburst itself.
Finally, he finally mentioned his future in relation to Hearthstone and Blizzard, and points out that his way of thinking is certainly widespread but difficult to express.
However, I want to make clear that not everyone involved in GM has this luxury. Do not take your anger out on the other casters, or streamers, or employees of Blizzard. This is not the kind of decision that comes from the rank and file. Most likely they’re just as angry as you are. I know I am.
Following events that transpired during Grandmasters at the weekend, Blitzchung has been banned from the circuit. The Chinese player showed his support for Hong Kong during the official Blizzard broadcast.