A group of university students who protested in solidarity with a banned Hearthstone player–and then voluntarily quit when they weren’t disciplined for it–have been formally punished by Blizzard.
Blizzard initially harshly punished professional Hearthstone player Blitzchung for speaking out during a post-match interview in support of Hong Kong protesters. This sparked a firestorm of backlash, including a group of American University students holding up a sign during a collegiate tournament. The sign read, “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz.” When the group was not punished for its actions, it dropped out of future tournaments.
Now the group has been banned for six months, a punishment that matches the revised one given to Blitzchung. In an email posted to Twitter, Blizzard stressed that the official broadcast should stay focused on the game. Casey Chambers, one of the players on the AU team, said that he’s pleased the team received equal punishment.
Happy to announce the AU Hearthstone team received a six month ban from competition. While delayed I appreciate all players being treated equally and no one being above the rules. pic.twitter.com/mZStoF0e0t
— Casey Chambers (@Xcelsior_hs) October 16, 2019
Blizzard’s original ruling against Blitzchung was much harsher. He was banned for a full year and Blizzard rescinded the $10,000 in winnings he had earned during the tournament. In a revised ruling, the company said it acted too hastily, returned his winnings, and reduced the penalty to six months. That means Blitzchung can still compete in Grandmasters tournaments this year if he chooses to, but he says he isn’t sure whether he’ll return to Hearthstone competitive play.
The initial decision faced sharp criticism from a wide variety of sources, including sitting US Senators, Hearthstone casters, and former champion Firebat. A group is planning to protest at BlizzCon, which begins on November 1.
Source: Game Spot Mashup