Blizzard Entertainment has suspended a professional Hearthstone player for using a competition live stream to voice his in support of Hong Kong protesters.
The Warcraft creator announced on Tuesday that it has pulled Hong Kong-based gamer Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai from the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters for violating tournament rules.
Blitzchung's Pro-Hong Kong Protest Comment
The infraction reportedly occurred during a recent live broadcast of the eSports event, when Blitzchung was being interviewed after one of the matches.
However, before the segment ended, the pro player pulled down a Hong Kong protester's mask and yelled, "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!" The live feed quickly cut to a commercial break.
Fearing potential repercussions for its business interests in the Chinese market, Blizzard promptly suspended Blitzchung and took him out of active competition.
The company claimed that the gamer had violated Hearthstone Grandmasters' official competition rules, which prohibits participants in engaging in acts that will bring them into public disrepute, offend the public, or damage Blizzard's image.
As a result of his actions, Blitzchung will no longer be allowed to take part in the Grandmasters event, and will lose any prize money he may have earned throughout Grandmasters Season 2. He is also banned from competing in any Hearthstone eSports tournament for an entire year.
Blizzard is also taking action against the Taiwanese broadcasters who interviewed Blitzchung during the Grandmasters live stream. The company said it will cease its working relationship with the streamers involved in airing the gamer's statement.
In its statement, Blizzard reminded participants of its eSports events about the importance of following rules and regulations.
"While we stand by one's right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules," the company said.
Blizzard is not the only U.S. company trying to distance themselves from the controversial Hong Kong protests.
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey landed in hot water this week after tweeting his support of the movement against authorities in the city-state. This angered several Chinese companies, which immediately pulled their sponsorship deals.
Even More's bosses in the organization were upset at his comment, with some reports claiming that they almost fired him for it. The veteran GM was forced to delete the tweet and issue an apology.
The NBA also came out with an official statement on the matter, clarifying that the league will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees, and team owners say or will not say on such issues.