Blizzard Entertainment softened its penalties levied against the Hearthstone player who spoke on public protests in Hong Kong, but reiterated Friday its stance against esports competitors using their platform for "divisive social or political views."
Hong Kong-based Chung "blitzchung" Ng Wai will receive will receive his $10,000 in prize money for winning a Grandmasters match on Sunday, a reversal from Blizzard's previous position. The company also reduced blitzchung's ban from its esports competitions from one year to six months.
Two casters on the broadcast, originally fired by Blizzard for allegedly encouraging blitzchung's statement, had their punishments reduced to six-month suspensions.
Speaking on the official Taiwanese Hearthstone stream after his victory on Sunday, blitzchung donned a gas mask and goggles -- similar to what the protestors wear to protect their identities -- and repeated a slogan that is associated with those protesting the actions of the Chinese government in the area: "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!"
Blizzard president J. Allen Brack wrote Friday on the company's website, "We interview competitors who are at the top of their craft to share how they feel. We want to experience that moment with them. Hearing their excitement is a powerful way to bring us together.
"Over the weekend, blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong -- in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action."
Brack added, "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 tournament and to be a place where all are welcome. In support of that, we want to keep the official channels focused on the game."
According to Brack, blitzchung's side of the Hong Kong issue was not behind the sanctions.
"I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision," Brack wrote. "We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took.
"If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same."
--Field Level Media