With everything happening with Blizzard, it’s hard to imagine that they’d do something to make the situation potentially worse. However, another person showed their solidarity with Hong Kong and they were quickly shut down.
The American University Hearthstone team held up a sign that said "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz" during the Collegiate Hearthstone Championship. After a few seconds, the broadcast cut them out of the broadcast, showing only the Worcester Poly team. It then focused on the two casters who completely ignored the sign and gave absolutely no indication that anything was off.
Commenters on the Livestream Fail subreddit noted that the Twitch chat was full of messages like, “Free Hong Kong,” throughout the entirety of this situation. Some have also mentioned Blizzard’s atypical behavior at the events following. Reddit user crassreductionist said that team cameras were disabled and no interviews took place for the rest of the colligate broadcasts. Not even game winners were interviewed. It seems Blizzard doesn’t want to risk anyone showing pro-Hong Kong statements. It’s not clear if the American team has been penalized in any way for their actions at this time.
This comes right after Ng Wai Chung, otherwise known as Blitzchung, made a pro-Hong Kong statement which led to Blizzard banning him and stripping almost $10,000 in winnings from the Hearthstone tournament. The company has listed that it’s against competition rules to engage in any behaviors that offend a group of people or damages Blizzard’s image. This decision was met with heavy criticism from all corners of the internet and even prompted real-life action.
Breaking: Effective immediately, Blizzard has removed Hong Kong Hearthstone player blitzchung from Hearthstone Grand Masters, rescinded all his prize money, and have suspended him from pro play for one year for his recent interview.— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 8, 2019
Statement below https://t.co/ByI8vrZk1a pic.twitter.com/3h6jKYezMQ
Many see this move as Blizzard prioritizing Chinese interest. One Twitter user mentioned that Blizzard forces Tawain to be called “Chinese Taipei” and players are not allowed to use the Taiwanese flag during the competition. China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and many bend to that pressure, apparently including Blizzard.
Either way, it’s clear that the game developer is doing its best to remove itself from politics. However, in their insistence to remove itself from the situation, they’re planting themselves more firmly within those same politics.