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 Blizzard also rescinded Chung's winnings from the Hearthstone Grandmasters season.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.
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.