A top professional gamer has been yanked from a tournament and stripped of his prize money for making pro-Hong Kong comments, according to new reports.
The gamer, Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung, was suspended from the Hearthstone “Grandmasters” event and also deemed “ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months,” Cnet reported.
Blizzard Entertainment, the California-based company behind Hearthstone, claimed Chung violated official rules during a post-game interview Sunday in which he declared, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age,” while wearing a gas mask.
Blizzard is partly owned by Chinese company Tencent, which has 4.9 percent of shares in Blizzard’s subsidiary, Activision Blizzard, Cnet said.
“We’d like to re-emphasize tournament and player conduct within the Hearthstone esports community from both players and talent,” Blizzard said in a statement. “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.”
Chung declined to comment to Cnet but told InvenGlobal before he was banned that he felt it was “his duty to say something about the issue.”
Grandmasters awards as much as $200,000 to the first-place finisher. It’s unclear how much Chung won.
The fallout comes after Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, ignited a firestorm with his own remarks about the ongoing pro-democracy protests — sparking fury from China.