Hong Kong’s national Overwatch team raised more than $11,000 to attend Blizzard Entertainment’s upcoming Overwatch World Cup following the company’s ban of Hearthstone player Ng ‘blitzchung’ Wai Chung.
A representative of the Overwatch team told Polygon last week it was “discussing” how to proceed in the Overwatch World Cup after Blizzard banned blitzchung for supporting ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong during an official Hearthstone broadcast. (Blizzard has since reduced blitzchung’s suspension to six months and returned his prize money.) Today, the Overwatch World Cup team, called the Fire Dragons, announced it will attend the event in Anaheim, California in November.
“The past few months have been very challenging for everyone on Team Hong Kong and it has been difficult to stay focused on our Overwatch program,” a team representative said. “We have tried our best to ensure that all of our players can prepare without distraction but this is not an easy task especially with the recent news surrounding blitzchung.”
After a deep discussion with our players, we believe that the chance to represent Hong Kong spirit and values on the global stage is too valuable to give up. While it could be more comfortable for us to shy away from this event, we believe it is more important now than ever to ensure that everyone sees the faces of players on our team; the faces of Hong Kong people proud of representing their community.
Therefore, Team Hong Kong has confirmed with Blizzard that we will be attending the 2019 Overwatch World Cup.
Thank you to our staff who have worked diligently in their roles throughout the recent turmoil surrounding them.
To the global Overwatch Community: we are humbled and grateful to have received your generous support from here at home and from abroad. Your support has enabled us to travel without burden and we are incredibly thankful for it. Your support has helped us muster the courage to take on this journey.
The team opened up its crowdfunding initiative in August. After blitzchung’s suspension in early October, the campaign received a major uptick in donations from players across the globe expressing their support for the team and the region. Team Hong Kong surpassed its initial goal and raised $11,375. While Blizzard has previously funded team trips for the Overwatch World Cup, the developer is only providing full trips to the top 10 teams participating in the event — all others are on their own, which is why many have taken to crowdfunding.
The Overwatch World Cup will be held Nov. 1 to 2 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California during Blizzard’s annual BlizzCon event.
Correction: We’ve updated this story with the correct order of blitzchung’s name.