While Blizzard remains under intense scrutiny for its decision to temporarily ban a professional Hearthstone player for supporting the Hong Kong protests on-stream, a professional Magic: The Gathering Arena player took his support for the protests to an official Wizards of the Coast broadcast. Lee Shi Tian, the first Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame inductee from Hong Kong, made reference to the protests during a post-match interview at Mythic Championship V this past weekend.
Speaking with host Becca Scott after securing a placement in the Top 8 of Mythic Championship V, Lee wore a red scarf as a mask over his face, echoing Hong Kong protesters' appearances. Lee immediately brought up Hong Kong at the beginning of the interview. "Life has been very tough in my hometown, in Hong Kong," said Lee.
"It feels so good to play as a free man."
So far, Magic publisher Wizards of the Coast has let the comments stand, neither taking disciplinary action against Lee nor making a statement regarding political commentary during streams. On the official website recapping Mythic Championship V, photos of Lee speaking with Scott and of Lee wearing the mask while posing with the other Top 8 players are prominently featured.
As a prominent member of the Magic community, Lee has used his platform to voice support for the Hong Kong protests for months. In June, Lee wrote an article for Magic: The Gathering fansite Hipsters of the Coast explaining the purpose of the protests and relaying his own harrowing experience being driven off by police using tear gas at a June 11 protest action.
Immediately prior to Mythic Championship V, Lee wrote a second article about the protests where he mentions Blizzard Entertainment's decision to temporarily ban Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai for his pro-Hong Kong statement at a Hearthstone tournament. "Now the whole community keenly waits to see what Blizzcon will look like as the #BoycottBlizzard campaign continues," writes Lee.
Though Blizzard reduced the suspension for Blitzchung and two Hearthstone commentators to six months and restored Blitzchung's winnings, the revised outcome and statement from Blizzard president J. Allen Brack have not put an end to the controversy. Late last week, several United States senators and representatives including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Marco Rubio signed a joint letter urging Blizzard to "reverse course" on its decision. Blizzcon 2019 will be held in Anaheim, CA from November 1 through November 3, and many boycott advocates are also calling for protests during the convention.
USgamer reached out to Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, for a comment regarding its position on political speech during tournaments. While Blizzard has continued to weather criticism for its decision, Riot Games and Epic Games have released contrasting statements concerning the studios' respective stances on political expression.
Header photo via Wizards of the Coast's official Mythic Championship V recap.