Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Just Threw in His Support for Blitzchung

Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Just Threw in His Support for Blitzchung

"I think the suspension should be reduced more or eliminated. But that's just me."

Last week at BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack apologized for the way Blizzard handled the suspension of Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai over his pro-Hong Kong statements, but didn't announce a change to the suspension. Now, Blizzard vice president and Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan says he feels the suspension is still too harsh as-is.

"I think the suspension should be reduced more or eliminated," Kaplan says in a new inteview with the Washington Post. "But that's just me."

Early last month, Blizzard suspended Chung, a pro Hearthstone player, and two casters who were on-air with him after he made a statement in support of the protests in Hong Kong. Blizzard also rescinded Chung's winnings from the Hearthstone Grandmasters season. The public outcry over the decision was immediate, and Blizzard later reduced the length of each suspension to six months and restored Chung's winnings.

On stage at the opening ceremony of BlizzCon, Brack expressed disappointment over the way suspensions were handled without further reducing the terms, in spite of protest actions outside the convention and a bipartisan letter from Congress urging Blizzard to "reverse course." Brack ended his apology with a promise that Blizzard "will do better going forward."

At BlizzCon, Kaplan focused on promoting Overwatch 2. Kaplan tells the Post that, given his experience in handling suspensions for the Overwatch League, he "was actually shocked that such a harsh penalty was levied" against Chung. "There is a lot of very different reaction among all of us [at Blizzard]," says Kaplan.

On top of the Hong Kong controversy, Blizzard's past year has been marked by significant layoffs and the departures of several veteran developers, including two of the studio's co-founders.

Prior to the start of BlizzCon, the esports team Tempo Storm signed Chung to its roster as a Hearthstone player. Chung will focus on training and streaming Hearthstone while the six-month suspension is in effect, and plans to resume play in official Blizzard tournaments once it has expired.

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Mathew Olson

Reporter

Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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