Following the recent events surrounding Blitzchung’s removal from Grandmasters, thousands of players are protesting against Blizzard. Most of them are vocal, some are even removing their Battle.net accounts. The story got significantly bigger than it was when we first reported it – right now it’s covered by media all around the world and commented by politicians.
Following the Blitzchung’s ban, two Hearthstone personalities and casters – Brian Kibler and Nathan “ThatsAdmirable” Zamora – announced that they will no longer be casting Grandmasters 2019 Global Finals at BlizzCon. You can find their full statements here – Kibler & Admirable, but to summarize them, they disagree with the actions taken by Blizzard, stand for free speech and that don’t want to be associated with the bad things company does now (but at the same time don’t condemn people who decide to stay).
My statement regarding Blitzchung, Hearthstone Grandmasters, and Blizzard.
— Nathan ‘Admirable’ Zamora (@ThatsAdmirable) October 10, 2019
Another Hearthstone casters – Simon “Sottle” Welch – has decided to stick to casting and fulfill his contract (you can find his statement here). He has already received a lot of negative comments, despite clearly stating that he also disagrees with Blitzchung’s ban. (I have to say that I completely understand his point of view – not everyone can afford to quit his job just like that, especially given that it’s niche and finding another similar position might be incredibly difficult, maybe even impossible.)
My statement on Blitzchung and Hearthstone Grandmasters. pic.twitter.com/8MGyu9LY4S
— Simon Welch (@coL_Sottle) October 10, 2019
More and more pro players and people related to Hearthstone are voicing their dissatisfaction. The most prominent recent example is from another Grandmaster – Amnesiac (you can find it here). He said that he does not agree with Blizzard’s decision and support Hong Kong protests. It’s unlikely that he will face any repercussions given that his opinion was voiced on social media and not during Grandmasters, but there’s no telling what will happen during the actual tournament.
My statement on Blizzard and Blitzchung: pic.twitter.com/XYt5Ho22yC
— William Barton (@Amnesiac_HS) October 10, 2019
It’s also worth noting that during Collegiate Championship, team American University held up a “Free Hong Kong” sign. The camera feed was quickly cut and remained off for the rest of the matches. However, given that they did not get punished any further, they said that it’s hypocritical and decided to forfeit the entire season.
Blizzard/TeSPA has decided not to penalize American University for holding up their sign and has scheduled their next match, but AU has decided to forfeit the match and the season, saying it is hypocritical for Blizzard to punish blitzchung but not them https://t.co/HHHeSJdPcH
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 10, 2019
Blizzard has not issued any new statements regarding the current situation. Grandmasters Playoffs start tomorrow, and it’s only three weeks until BlizzCon.
Update #1: Disguised Toast, one of the best known Hearthstone streamers and YouTubers who quit the game a while ago, said that he will come back if Blizzard reconsiders the ban. He’s most likely joking, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he actually did just that:
Hearthstone streamers are being pressured to stop streaming Hearthstone due to the Blitzchung drama, but that’s financially unrealistic for them.
So I’ll make this offer instead.
BLIZZARD, I will START playing Hearthstone again if you reconsider your position about his ban.
— Disguised Toast (@DisguisedToast) October 11, 2019
Update #2: Similarly to Sottle, two other casters – Darroch Brown and Alex “Raven” Baguley – decided to stay. Here are their statements:
My statement regarding Blitzchung, Grandmasters and Blizzard. pic.twitter.com/zvG29yA1XC
— Alex Baguley (@RavenCasts) October 11, 2019
My statement on Blitzchung and Blizzard
— Darroch Brown (@DarrochBrown) October 11, 2019