A number of Blizzard employees appear to protest the company's decision to ban a professional Hearthstone player for expressing support for Hong Kong's ongoing protests for autonomy. Some have reportedly covered two of the company's assumed core values cast in bronze in a sculpture outside their headquarters, "Think Global" and "Every Voice Matters". It seems to later gather in support of the statue, with umbrellas, a symbol of the protests.
Blizzard banned player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai for a year and interrupted his prize money for saying "liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time!" In an interview after the match on Sunday. They pointed to the section in the rulebook that prohibits "all acts that, according to Blizzard's sole discretion, give you public disrepute, insult some or all of the public, or otherwise damage the Blizzard image." They also cut ties with the two commentators of the match.
Hong Kong is part of China but is governed by autonomy, which often causes friction with the mainland. The latest series of protests was preceded by a proposed extradition law that many feared would give China too much power over Hong Kong. It is claimed that over one million people participated in some rally. The protests have met with fierce opposition from the police, and it has itself fueled further protests. Here's a short BBC founder if you want it.
China frowns heavily on people and companies supporting the protests. Just last week, an NBA basketball team manager tweeted support for protesters and, in response, state TV channels said they would stop broadcasting games. Blizzard likely fears similar reprisals against their own games and sports betting.
Not everyone at Blizzard, apparently. Former Blizzard esports boy Kevin Hovdestad yesterday tweeted that some Blizzardeers (very polite) have slandered the company's public valuation statement on a statue outside their headquarters. The statue, made in China, shows a wolf-riding Orc warrior surrounded by a compass explaining Blizzard's eight "core companies' values."
While Hovdestad does not say who is responsible (for obvious reasons), I would trust him as a source considering he worked there.
The core values covered yesterday are in their entirety:
Every voice plays a role
Big ideas can come anywhere. Blizzard Entertainment is what it is today because of the votes of our players and every member of the company. Every employee is encouraged to speak, listen, respect other opinions and embrace criticism as just another avenue for good ideas.
Everywhere on earth, people are playing Blizzard Entertainment games. While respecting the cultural diversity that makes people unique, we strive to grow and support our global gaming community. We are also looking for the most passionate and talented people in the world to enrich our company and help us create the vision of the future for Blizzard Entertainment.
Later in the day, a pseudonym Reddit user who claims to be a Blizzard employee (known only as "Standingwhk") posted a photo they said was of "Blizzard employees standing with [Hong Kong]". two dozen people, several with umbrellas, gathered at the Orc statue, umbrellas are a symbol of Hong Kong's resistance movements, which have simply begun as tools to protect against police pepper spray.
While I can't verify the identity of the Reddit poster or the assembled people, of course Blizzard's wolfman and a compass point are visibly covered with paper.
The Guardian reports that Blitzchung stands by his words.
"I do not regret that I said so. And even now I do not regret it at all, "Blitzchung said. He said it was" a shame "to face this after four years in digital sports.
" I sacrificed time spending time with my friends and studying on the ground of that Although it seemed like I had wasted four years, I have something more important in my heart – if we lose the movement, Hong Kong will end forever. "
Players have protested Blizzard's response. A team in Hearthstone's official Collegiate Championship held a sign yesterday supporting Hong Kong protesters and demanding a boycott of Blizzard. The company seems to have wiped this from their streaming archives but hey, this is the Internet so (thanks to quick backups) we can still see this here:
I am sure this is not the end of things.