Update: Blitzchung has released a statement.

Regarding Last Weekend’s Hearthstone Grandmasters Tournament
At the Hearthstone Grandmasters Asia-Pacific last weekend, Grandmaster Blitzchung made a comment in a post game interview about the political situation in Hong Kong. Blizzard took back his prize money and banned him from Hearthstone eSports for a year.

You can see Blizzard's initial response on Hearthpwn, as well as the community reaction. Brian Kibler and other casters have now decided to stop working the Grandmasters Tournaments.

Originally Posted by J. Allen Brack (Blue Tracker)
Hello Blizzard Community . . .

I want to take a few minutes to talk to all of you about the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament this past weekend. On Monday, we made the decision to take action against a player named blitzchung and two shoutcasters after the player shared his views on what’s happening in Hong Kong on our official broadcast channel.

At Blizzard, our vision is “to bring the world together through epic entertainment.” And we have core values that apply here: Think Globally; Lead Responsibly; and importantly, Every Voice Matters, encouraging everybody to share their point of view. The actions that we took over the weekend are causing people to question if we are still committed to these values. We absolutely are and I will explain.

Our esports programs are an expression of our vision and our values. Esports exist to create opportunities for players from around the world, from different cultures, and from different backgrounds, to come together to compete and share their passion for gaming. It is extremely important to us to protect these channels and the purpose they serve: to bring the world together through epic entertainment, celebrate our players, and build diverse and inclusive communities.

As to how those values apply in this case:

First, our official esports tournament broadcast was used as a platform for a winner of this event to share his views with the world.

We interview competitors who are at the top of their craft to share how they feel. We want to experience that moment with them. Hearing their excitement is a powerful way to bring us together.

Over the weekend, blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong—in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action.

Every Voice Matters, and we strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the many places available to express themselves. However, the official broadcast needs to be about the tournament and to be a place where all are welcome. In support of that, we want to keep the official channels focused on the game.

Second, what is the role of shoutcasters for these broadcasts?

We hire shoutcasters to amplify the excitement of the game. They elevate the watchability and help the esports viewing experience stay focused on the tournament and our amazing players.

Third, were our actions based on the content of the message?

Part of Thinking Globally, Leading Responsibly, and Every Voice Matters is recognizing that we have players and fans in almost every country in the world. Our goal is to help players connect in areas of commonality, like their passion for our games, and create a sense of shared community.

The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.

We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took.

If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.

OK, what could Blizzard have done better, and where do we go from here?

Over the past few days, many players, casters, esports fans, and employees have expressed concerns about how we determined the penalties. We’ve had a chance to pause, to listen to our community, and to reflect on what we could have done better. In hindsight, our process wasn’t adequate, and we reacted too quickly.

We want to ensure that we maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all our players, and that our rules and processes are clear. All of this is in service of another important Blizzard value—Play Nice; Play Fair.

In the tournament itself blitzchung *played* fair. We now believe he should receive his prizing. We understand that for some this is not about the prize, and perhaps for others it is disrespectful to even discuss it. That is not our intention.

But playing fair also includes appropriate pre-and post-match conduct, especially when a player accepts recognition for winning in a broadcast. When we think about the suspension, six months for blitzchung is more appropriate, after which time he can compete in the Hearthstone pro circuit again if he so chooses. There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast.

With regard to the casters, remember their purpose is to keep the event focused on the tournament. That didn’t happen here, and we are setting their suspension to six months as well.

Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views.

One of our goals at Blizzard is to make sure that every player, everywhere in the world, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, or any other consideration always feels safe and welcome both competing in and playing our games.

At Blizzard, we are always listening and finding ways to improve—it is part of our culture. Thank you for your patience with us as we continue to learn.

Sincerely,

J. Allen Brack
President of Blizzard Entertainment

Blitzchung's Statement
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Thank you for your attention in the past one week, this is a personal statement and my view on Blizzard's latest decision. First of all, I'm grateful for Blizzard reconsidering their position about my ban. Earlier this week, I told media that I knew I might have penalty or consequence for my act, because I understand that my act could take the conversation away from the purpose of the event. In the future, I will be more careful on that and express my opinions or show my support to Hong Kong on my personal platforms.

Many people has been asking me if I accept the latest decision of Blizzard, I will discuss that on two parts. Tournament prizing and suspension. For tournament prizing, I quoted what Blizzard said on the official website, they mention that I played fair in the tournament and they believe I should receive my prizing. This is the part I really appreciate, Blizzard also said they understand for some this is not about the prize, but perhaps for others it is disrespectful to even discuss it. People
from Blizzard had explained this to me through a phone call and I really appreciate that and I accept their decision on this part.

For second part about the suspension, Blizzard had changed their suspension on me from a year to six months. Once again, I appreciate for their reconsideration on this. To be honest, I think six
months is still quite a lot to me. But I also being told that I can continue to compete in the hearthstone pro circuit which they mean the grandmaster tournament. I appreciate for this decision
they made because grandmaster is currently the highest level tournament in competitive
hearthstone. However, I wish Blizzard can reconsider about their penalty on the two casters involved.

Lastly, many people wants to know if i would be competing in hearthstone in the future. Honestly, I have no idea on that yet. Since my next tournament is very likely to be the grandmaster tournament of next season, it's probably at least a few months from now on. I will take this time to relax myself to decide if I am staying in competitive hearthstone scene or not.

Hearthstone changed my the way I live, I really love this community. Blessing to all the players out there, and blessing to Blizzard.
This article was originally published in forum thread: J. Allen Brack: Regarding Last Weekend’s Hearthstone Grandmasters Tournament started by chaud View original post
Comments 1339 Comments
  1. Lobosan's Avatar
    AHAHAHAHAHAH

    No.

    Do they seriously think this bullshit "Ok, you guys got mad, so we're just gonna reduce the sentence, ignore the human rights context, and hope China-Daddy stays happy" is going to fly with...well...ANYONE? Chinese officials (and their army of bots) will be pissed that Blizzard relented slightly, while virtuallly everyone else will see this for what it is--a hideously disguised copout. Blizzard's leadership are proving to be little more than obsequious toadies to their Chinese investors
  1. Metta World Peace's Avatar
    Ah, the typical after work Friday response when everyone is gone for the day.

    "The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision."

    LOL sure
  1. RoutinelyWorgen's Avatar
    Posted at 5 PM on a Friday so it goes under the radar, dismisses the implications of their actions and doesn't even apologize.

    Disgusting.
  1. Kagthul's Avatar
    ... Sell out, with me oh yeah... sell out...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEKbFMvkLIc

    Yer a bad liar, J. Allen.
  1. anon5123's Avatar
    Holy fucking shit, they're not even apologizing.



    This shitstorm just keeps getting worse.
  1. HHHGame78's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Metta World Peace View Post
    Ah, the typical after work Friday response when everyone is gone for the day.

    "The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision."

    LOL sure
    If six months and no removal of winnings was the initial penalty people wouldn't be as much up in arms as they are.

    They corrected that mistake, time to move on. Whether you like it or not or choose not to believe them that's your choice.
  1. Orby's Avatar
    I get the feeling some people's minds are already made up, it doesn't matter if they apologise or not... But at least they tried...

    <insert Bart gif>
    <insert wub waa horn>
    <insert nod smiliey>
  1. OriginalName's Avatar
    Originally Posted by J. Allen Brack (Blue Tracker)

    The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.
    If this is the case, howcome they hypocritically have not levied the same punishment to American University and its players who did the exact same thing in solidarity with Blitzchung?

  1. Popastique's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by anon5123 View Post
    Holy fucking shit, they're not even apologizing.
    Coz there is nothing to apologize for.
  1. Bleu42's Avatar
    "We are very angered and disappointed in what happened at the event last weekend and highly object to the expression of personal political beliefs, as always we will defend the pride and dignity of China."

    Direct quote from Blizzard.

    But don't worry guys his specific views had nothing to do with it.
  1. Stormspellz's Avatar
    The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.
    good f'n joke, i doubt the biggest white knight of blizz would believe this.
  1. mojojojo202's Avatar
    'Think Globally, Lead Responsibly, Every Voice Matters (conditions may apply)'

    All those are political opinions.

    Only fair that Brack gets a 6 month ban as well. At least we won't have to listen to his inane drivel for a bit.
  1. oplawlz's Avatar
    Yeah, no. The very wordage of the rule enforced here is that Blizzard can enforce this specifically "at their own discretion". There is and was no blanket policy violation here, and you can be damned sure if it was an american talking about lgbt rights they wouldn't have said boo.
  1. anon5123's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Popastique View Post
    Coz there is nothing to apologize for.
    It's hilarious that you believe that
  1. GreenJesus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Bleu42 View Post
    "We are very angered and disappointed in what happened at the event last weekend and highly object to the expression of personal political beliefs, as always we will defend the pride and dignity of China."

    Direct quote from Blizzard.

    But don't worry guys his specific views had nothing to do with it.
    exactly. This is just bullshit. And he even waited till 5 PM on friday to send it out.
  1. Lobosan's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by HHHGame78 View Post
    If six months and no removal of winnings was the initial penalty people wouldn't be as much up in arms as they are.

    They corrected that mistake, time to move on. Whether you like it or not or choose not to believe them that's your choice.
    Bruh. It's not about the severity of the punishment. It's the fact that they were punishing him AT ALL for a relatively innocuous, albiet political, statement, when their own C-level employees frequently comment about political shit on Twitter, Facebook, and even in interviews (Metzen has never pulled punches with regards to Trump, for example) and when they have no issue allowing American teams to make similar comments with impunity.

    Hypocricy and appeasement are anethema to human rights everywhere.
  1. Popastique's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by anon5123 View Post
    It's hilarious that you believe that
    Believe what? Guy wanted to give his political message across on a gaming tournament stream, did it and got punished. What's wrong with that?
  1. Alcsaar's Avatar
    Sorry, but a literal half-apology is not enough.

    100% bullshit that they're claiming this had nothing to do with their ties to China.

    There is absolutely no way to defend China's violation of basic human rights. They don't deserve to have people bending over backwards to appease them.

    If Blizzard was a real company, they'd be using their success and reputation to fight for human rights, not to ignore them because its more financially beneficial.

    Companies have a moral responsibility to use their success to fight to improve the world, not just to fight for the biggest profit margins.

    You can't "Bring the world together through epic entertainment" until the world is actually on the same page when it comes to human rights, and you can't choose to just ignore the violations while claiming that.
  1. shadowmatrix's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by anon5123 View Post
    Holy fucking shit, they're not even apologizing.



    This shitstorm just keeps getting worse.
    Apologize for what, upholding the rules? He can't talk about Hong Kong, the next American who wins can't talk about the Klan, The next German who wins can't talk about Nazis, etc. What good is having rules if you keep making exceptions?
  1. tmamass's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by OriginalName View Post
    If this is the case, howcome they hypocritically have not levied the same punishment to American University and its players who did the exact same thing in solidarity with Blitzchung?
    because its NOT the same fool.

Site Navigation