Following a week of controversy and heated reactions over the decision to suspend a Hearthstone player and commentators for pro-Hong Kong statements made on air, Blizzard has finally released a full statement. The company is halving its original suspension of both Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai and the two commentators to six months, and plans to reward the former their previously rescinded prize money.
In a statement made today by Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack, the company head reiterated Blizzard's values of "Thnk Globally; Lead Responsibly; and importantly, Every Voice Matters." Brack says that Blitzchung made his on-air statement in support of Hong Kong in "violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action."
Criticism against the ruling was levied from many places, including within the Hearthstone community and even inside Blizzard, and Brack writes that the past few days of outspoken concerns caused Blizzard to reflect. "In hindsight, our process wasn't adequate, and we reacted too quickly," Brack says.
The president specifically acknowledges the politics of the decision to suspend a player for making a statement in support of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong against China.
"The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made," Brack says. "I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision."
Due to Blitzchung playing "fair" during the tournament, Brack says Blizzard now believes he should receive his prizing from Grandmasters play thus far. "We understand that for some this is not about the prize, and perhaps for others it is disrespectful to even discuss it," Brack says. "That is not our intention."
But in terms of suspension, the original 12-month duration has been halved to six, which Blizzard says "is more appropriate." The two commentators, or casters, will also have a six-month suspension imposed, after which all parties are welcome to participate in the Hearthstone circuit once more.
Brack says that moving forward, Blizzard will "continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views."