American video game company Blizzard Entertainment recently came under fire from the global video game community after taking action against a professional gamer for speaking out against the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. In the process, they also lost a major commercial sponsor.

Blizzard disqualified and banned professional Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung from competing in a worldwide tournament for shouting the popular protest slogan, "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times," during a live-streamed interview. Two days following Blizzard's actions, the Taiwanese branch of the Japanese auto company Mitsubishi withdrew their support from Blizzard after having been a sponsor during all of Blizzard's esports events.

The outcry from Ng, otherwise known as "Blitzchung" among the gaming community, is said to have violated Blizzard Entertainment's competition rules and Ng was temporarily stripped of his potential winnings, while also being forbidden from competing for the next year. Following the news of Ng's ban, members of the gaming community took to social media in solidarity with Ng, with many calling for a boycott against all of Blizzard's games and Blizzard's parent company, Activision Blizzard. Many members also called the gaming company hypocritical given that most of the company's most popular games revolve around "the fight against the forces of control, domination, and enslavement." Other players within the gaming community have also posted images on social media of them uninstalling or canceling subscriptions to Blizzard Entertainment games such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch, some of Blizzard's most popular and profitable games.

hearthstone blizzard ban hong kong

This was not the only incident during Blizzard's live-stream of the Collegiate Hearthstone Championship, as a team from American University held up a sign to a nearby camera showing their solidarity with Hong Kong with a sign reading, "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz." The camera quickly cut away from the sign and video footage of the match can no longer be found on Blizzard's Twitch channel, a channel that has video footage of every other major esports event it has held. However, that has not stopped members of social media from viewing and reposting the video more than 400,000 times.

This is the latest instance of Hong Kong's ongoing pro-democracy, anti-government protests overlapping into the sports world as protests enter their fourth month of action. Other brands such as the NBA and South Park have also been caught in the crossfire of events, leading many members of the respective communities questioning the intersection and interaction of capitalism, politics, and entertainment.

Blizzard has remained relatively quiet since the announcement of Ng's ban, though the company's annual fan gathering, BlizzCon, is scheduled to begin this Friday.

Source: Kotaku