Professional eSports team Tempo Storm signed Asia-Pacific Grandmaster Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung to add to its current Hearthstone roster. The act that landed Blitzchung with a suspension has kicked off a wave of anti-China sentiment online, and created yet another rift in the center of the gaming community. Some people support the banning, calling attention to the idea that Blizzard can make whatever business decision they like. Others have pointed to ongoing allegations of repression in China as evidence of a wider problem within the geopolitics of gaming.
Blitzchung was suspended by Blizzard early October of this year when he showed pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong during his Hearthstone winner’s interview. During which he donned a respirator similar to those worn by protesters before shouting “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” The livestream hosts quickly ducked out of sight, and closed the interview with, “Ok that’s it, Blitz bro.” He was suspended for one year from participating in any Hearthstone competitions and Blizzard revoked his earned prized money. After backlash from the Hearthstone community and a number of personalities and streamers, Blizzard reduced his suspension to six months and returned his earnings. Along with Blitzchung, two of the show casters during the said interview were given the same sanctions.
CEO of Tempo Storm Anrey Yanyuk said in the official Tempo Storm website, “We believe first and foremost in supporting players and encouraging them to engage and to speak out on the things about which they are most passionate.” He also added that the player’s character and integrity is as important as their tournament achievements. “Blitzchung brings incredible talent, an infectious personality, and a great deal of enthusiasm, for Hearthstone as well as his community and others around him. He exemplifies what Tempo believes in, and we welcome him as an ambassador for our brand.”
The controversial Hearthstone player said, “I had been thinking about whether to continue my Hearthstone career in the past few weeks. Since I haven’t reached my professional goals yet, and I don’t want to fall by the wayside, I will start competing again after I am unbanned.”
Blitzchung will be joining the current Tempo Storm roster that includes Reynad, Amnesiac and Purple.