Here's a timeline of Activision Blizzard's terrible week, as it faces fan protests after an esports athlete was punished for voicing support for Hong Kong
- A vocal group of fans are boycotting Activision Blizzard after the company punished an esports competitor who spoke out in support of the protests in "Hong Kong.'
- Chung Ng Wai, the esports competitor better known as Blitzchung, shouted "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age" in Chinese amid a post-match interview at a Blizzard-sponsored "Hearthstone" tournament in Taiwan on October 5.
- Blizzard responded by stripping Blitzchung of his prize money and barring him from "Hearthstone" competitions for one year. Blizzard said Blitzchung's comments had violated the competition rules by damaging the company's image. It later walked back the punishment, reducing it down to 6 months.
- Critics have accused the California-based studio of prioritizing its relationship with China instead of protecting free speech - something it denied in a statement issued on Friday night.
- The controversy has the potential to spill over into BlizzCon, Blizzard annual fan convention scheduled for November 1st. A group called Fight for the Future plans to organize a protest at the event, to be held in Anaheim, California.
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Activision Blizzard is dealing with a fan revolt and intense public scrutiny after punishing Blitzchung - a Hong Kong-based esports competitor who voiced support for Hong Kong's protesters during a Blizzard-run event on October 5.
Blitzchung, whose real name is Chung Ng Wai, is a grandmaster-level player in "Hearthstone," Blizzard's very popular digital card game.
During Blizzard's official broadcast of the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters competition, Blitzchung appeared in a post-match interview wearing a gas mask. As the broadcast ended, Blitzchung shouted "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age," with the apparent support of the two tournament broadcasters.
Blizzard responded to Blitzchung's comments on October 8 by stripping him of about $3,000 in prize money he had already earned for the tournament, and barred him from "Hearthstone" competitions for one year. Blizzard also said it would no longer work with the two broadcasters who were interviewing Blitzchung during his comments. The company deleted the match and interview footage from its official channels as well.
In the blog post announcing Blitzchung's ban, Blizzard said "we stand by one's right to express individual thoughts and opinions," but Blitzchung's comments were deemed to be harmful to the company.
In a follow-up statement issued on Friday night, Blizzard said that it was reducing his suspension (and that of the broadcasters) to six months, and restoring his prize money - though mostly otherwise stood by its earlier positions.
Here's a timeline of Blizzard's terrible week, as fans and politicians expressed their outrage over how the company handled the episode: