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College Hearthstone team that held ‘Free Hong Kong’ sign banned for 6 months

American University students held the sign in support of suspended player Ng ‘blitzchung’ Wai Chung

American University Hearthstone players holding a sign that reads “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz” Blizzard Entertainment via Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Three Hearthstone players from American University in Washington, D.C. have received six month bans for holding a “Free Hong Kong, boycott Blizz” sign during their Hearthstone Collegiate Championship match on Oct. 8.

Casey Chambers, a 19-year-old Hearthstone player, posted the notice to Twitter on Oct. 16. A Hearthstone admin wrote that “Every Voice Matters at Blizzard” — it’s one of the company’s published values — but that the official broadcast is off-limits for these statements.

“Happy to announce the AU Hearthstone team received a six month ban from competition,” Chambers wrote. “While delayed I appreciate all players being treated equally and no one being above the rules.”

The suspension comes a week after the match — a delay criticized by Chambers previously. Chambers told Polygon on Oct. 10 the team had received its match assignment for the next week and was “concerned by the hypocrisy of punishing blitzchung but not us.”

Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung was suspended last week for supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong during an official Hearthstone stream. Blitzchung shouted “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time,” a slogan associated with the protests, before the broadcast cut away. Blitzchung’s punishment came just days after his appearance on stream — but Blizzard later reduced his suspension to six months and return his earned prize money, $10,000 earned throughout the season.

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack addressed the suspension in a letter posted on Oct. 11. He said Blizzard’s relationships in China “had no influence” on the suspension. Brack also addressed the company’s values — particularly, “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters” — as players and employees questioned its commitment to them. Brack said Blizzard “absolutely is” committed to its values.

Correction: We’ve updated this story with the correct order of blitzchung’s name.

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