Skip to main content

Blizzard is facing a boycott after removing a Hearthstone Grandmaster

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard's removal of Hearthstone pro Ng Wai "blitzchung" Chung from the Grandmasters has prompted a backlash from players, not just of Hearthstone, many of whom are now boycotting the company. 

The Grandmaster player was removed from the tournament after he called for the "liberation" of Hong Kong in a post-match interview. This, according to Blizzard, was a breach of the extremely broad tournament rules that allows the company to give players the boot for acts that, "in Blizzard's sole discretion", damage Blizzard or the player's public image, or offend a portion of the public. 

"As you know there are serious protests in my country now," he said after the interview. "My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention."

Blizzard's decision means that Chung won't receive anything for Season 2 and will not be able to compete in Hearthstone esports for a year. While Blizzard says it apparently stands by player's right to express themselves, players still have to abide by the official rules—rules that largely forbid players from expressing opinions.  

Supporters of the boycott are calling it an attack on free speech, voicing their discontent on Twitter with the a Boycott Blizzard hashtag and closing their wallets. 

"Cancelled my subscription to World of Warcraft," one player wrote. "I support young people proactively advocating for their freedom and democracy."

See more

I've not seen any pros participating in the boycott at the moment, though CCG pro Brian Kibler tweeted that he's being thinking about the situation and will have more to say soon. 

See more

On the Hearthstone subreddit, meanwhile, players are announcing that they're done with the game. In the top post, a player claims they've spent $10,000 on Hearthstone and won't be spending more. Another Reddit post tells people how they can refund their Warcraft 3 Remaster preorder. "It's not much but if it's what I can do right now to support Hong Kong it's an easy thing to do," they wrote. 

Other players have accused Blizzard of bowing to pressure from Chinese investors. Activision Blizzard is one of many game companies that Chinese publisher Tencent has invested in, though it only owns five percent. Tencent is now the largest game publisher in the world, and China is a gargantuan market—the largest PC market—which Blizzard clearly wants to appeal to.

Fraser Brown
Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.