Blizzard’s reaction to a Hearthstone pro voicing support for the Hong Kong protests has cost it an esports sponsor, as Mitsubishi Motors Taiwan revoked its support only two days after the fallout (via The Daily Beast).
At the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament, Ng ‘blitzchung’ Wai Chung said in an interview, ‘Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!’. In response, Blizzard Taiwan deleted his interview from its official Twitch channel, removed Blitzchung from Grandmasters, pulled his prize money, and banned him from Hearthstone for 12 months. Blitzchung explained that his actions were motivated by his ‘duty to say something about the issue’, and that it was ‘just another form of participation of the protest.’
Although Blizzard eventually revoked some of the sanctions placed on Blitzchung, it experienced an intense backlash from employees, players, and actually lost one of its commercial sponsors in the fallout. Mitsubishi Motors Taiwan confirmed to The Daily Beast that the company had pulled its support of Blizzard’s esports leagues. The community had in fact spotted that the Mitsubishi Motors logo had gone missing only two days after Blizzard’s Hong Kong controversy began.
BlizzCon, the company’s annual convention, begins on November 1 and ends on November 2. Blizzard has an action-packed plan for the event, but it may be overshadowed by the demonstrations that are scheduled to be held outside the Anaheim Convention Centre.