Official Blizzard Statement on the Grandmasters / Blitzchung Incident

A quick reminder – last Sunday, during the Grandmasters tournament post-game interview, pro player called for the liberation of Hong Kong. On the following day, Blizzard decided to punish not only him, but also the casters who conducted the interview. Blitzchung got banned from competing for a year and all of his prize money for Grandmasters was forfeited. Two of the casters were fired. You can read more here.

It lead to a massive outrage – first from the Hearthstone community, and then it spread across social media, news outlets and even into the actual TV news. In a protest against those actions, multiple pro players & HS personalities have issued statements condemning Blizzard’s actions, some of them even quit – e.g. Brian Kibler and ThatsAdmirable decided to step down from casting Grandmasters.

After a few days of Silence, Blizzard has finally decided to speak about the matter and released an official statement from their CEO – J. Allen Brack. Most important part for Blitzchung is that they’ve reduced his suspension from one year to six months. He will also get his prize money after all. Casters, instead of being removed indefinitely, are also suspended for 6 months. After that, both Blitzchung and casters can return to pro Hearthstone scene – if they want to, that is.

Brack also made sure that the decision had nothing to do with pressure from China, and that no matter what his political views would be, player would still get punished if they were expressed during a broadcast. While they admit that perhaps the punishment was too severe, they still plan to enforce the rules going forward.

You can read the full statement below:

Hello Blizzard Community . . .

I want to take a few minutes to talk to all of you about the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament this past weekend. On Monday, we made the decision to take action against a player named blitzchung and two shoutcasters after the player shared his views on what’s happening in Hong Kong on our official broadcast channel.

At Blizzard, our vision is “to bring the world together through epic entertainment.” And we have core values that apply here: Think Globally; Lead Responsibly; and importantly, Every Voice Matters, encouraging everybody to share their point of view. The actions that we took over the weekend are causing people to question if we are still committed to these values. We absolutely are and I will explain.

Our esports programs are an expression of our vision and our values. Esports exist to create opportunities for players from around the world, from different cultures, and from different backgrounds, to come together to compete and share their passion for gaming. It is extremely important to us to protect these channels and the purpose they serve: to bring the world together through epic entertainment, celebrate our players, and build diverse and inclusive communities.

As to how those values apply in this case:

First, our official esports tournament broadcast was used as a platform for a winner of this event to share his views with the world.

We interview competitors who are at the top of their craft to share how they feel. We want to experience that moment with them. Hearing their excitement is a powerful way to bring us together.

Over the weekend, blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong—in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action.

Every Voice Matters, and we strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the many places available to express themselves. However, the official broadcast needs to be about the tournament and to be a place where all are welcome. In support of that, we want to keep the official channels focused on the game.

Second, what is the role of shoutcasters for these broadcasts?

We hire shoutcasters to amplify the excitement of the game. They elevate the watchability and help the esports viewing experience stay focused on the tournament and our amazing players.

Third, were our actions based on the content of the message?

Part of Thinking Globally, Leading Responsibly, and Every Voice Matters is recognizing that we have players and fans in almost every country in the world. Our goal is to help players connect in areas of commonality, like their passion for our games, and create a sense of shared community.

The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.

We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took.

If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.

OK, what could Blizzard have done better, and where do we go from here?

Over the past few days, many players, casters, esports fans, and employees have expressed concerns about how we determined the penalties. We’ve had a chance to pause, to listen to our community, and to reflect on what we could have done better. In hindsight, our process wasn’t adequate, and we reacted too quickly.

We want to ensure that we maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all our players, and that our rules and processes are clear. All of this is in service of another important Blizzard value—Play Nice; Play Fair.

In the tournament itself blitzchung *played* fair. We now believe he should receive his prizing. We understand that for some this is not about the prize, and perhaps for others it is disrespectful to even discuss it. That is not our intention.

But playing fair also includes appropriate pre-and post-match conduct, especially when a player accepts recognition for winning in a broadcast. When we think about the suspension, six months for blitzchung is more appropriate, after which time he can compete in the Hearthstone pro circuit again if he so chooses. There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast.

With regard to the casters, remember their purpose is to keep the event focused on the tournament. That didn’t happen here, and we are setting their suspension to six months as well.

Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views.

One of our goals at Blizzard is to make sure that every player, everywhere in the world, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, or any other consideration always feels safe and welcome both competing in and playing our games.

At Blizzard, we are always listening and finding ways to improve—it is part of our culture. Thank you for your patience with us as we continue to learn.


J. Allen Brack
President of Blizzard Entertainment



A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over that time, he has achieved many high Legend climbs and infinite Arena runs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

Leave a Reply


  1. Raymoney
    October 13, 2019 at 10:33 am

    So… I was hoping people would start to expres themselves a little more after a victory. Make hero’s out of themselves like Blizzchung did. I watched a World Championship twice but never saw anybody cheer, scream, jump up etc… This emotion and personal opinion and struggle Blizzchung had brought to the game, could have been the start of a new era. Blizzchung should be a Legendary Hero Card, Kibbler aswell. This was Leroy Jenkins all over!!!

  2. Maximum
    October 13, 2019 at 5:20 am

    “our relationships in China had no influence on our decision“, well that is a big fat lie!

  3. Rolioli
    October 12, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Is toast coming back?

  4. Hungry dragon
    October 12, 2019 at 9:02 am

    well about how every voice matters for blizzard. they first deleted my posts on the official HS forum about supporting the protest against their actions related blitzchung issue, then when i complained about the disappeard post on the forum banned my account for 3days accusing spam and trolling. of course there was no spam, no trolling, no offense or dirty language just an opinion against there statement.

    • Maximum
      October 13, 2019 at 5:29 am

      “Think globally ” they said, “Every voice Matters” they said.

  5. Ramra
    October 12, 2019 at 5:05 am

    Am I the only one who thinks these explanations don’t say much ?

    • Ramra
      October 12, 2019 at 6:23 am

      also its badly written. i would expect more of a president

  6. Vincent
    October 12, 2019 at 4:02 am

    I found this part ironic; “Every Voice Matters, and we strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the many places available to express themselves.”
    Because after sharing my viewpoint on the Blizzard forums about free speech and democracy, my account was silenced for a 1000(!) years which is still in place. So maybe they cut it in half to 500 years lol?
    To quote Rod Breslau: “at this point I’d rather Blizzard, Riot, the NBA, Apple, and all other game developers/movie studios just tell me to go fuck myself, they want China’s money, and they don’t think Americans have the balls to stop using their products than these lies disguised as PR statements”
    To summon it up… I don’t think this will be enough.

  7. SlapLaB
    October 12, 2019 at 3:37 am

    Good call.
    They had to make an example, HS is a game and not a platform to talk about these issues.

  8. Digidindi
    October 12, 2019 at 3:22 am

    Punishment well deserved

  9. Mircean
    October 11, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    That is a very well-written letter by whichever PR and/or law firm Blizzard has on retainer. It’s absolutely oozing with craven disingenuousness, but I can’t really find fault with it.

  10. DRBoomsScheme
    October 11, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they decided to talk about the issue and backpedal but …

    Doesn’t this article contradict their Weibo statement (link for those that don’t know which one I’m talking about:

    Specifically, “We will always respect and defend the pride of our country.” in the Weibo statement and “The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.” in this article?

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      October 12, 2019 at 5:14 am

      I believe that Weibo statement was written by NetEase, who operate Blizzard games in China, and not Blizzard itself. At least it sounds like that. I mean, American company wouldn’t talk about China as “our country”, right?

      Of course, there’s no way to prove it, but at least it sounds that way. And Blizzard could still force them to remove it. Just giving some more context.

      • DRBoomsScheme
        October 12, 2019 at 2:22 pm

        That makes sense. It’s hard to believe they allow them to talk in their place if there is such a disconnection between them but it could be.

  11. Steeleon1972
    October 11, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    How convenient of them to post this at the end of the weekday news cycle. My main beef was the money withheld, they resolved that. Still sticking to my guns of not supporting Blizzard this month in any way though. No money spent this month on Hearthstone, not watching playoffs live this weekend or Masters Tour. I will watch the championships though.

    • JoeBar
      October 12, 2019 at 12:26 am

      So you spend money in HS evey month ?
      Sure Blizzard will cry for you don’t spending for this month.

      It still make years i didn’t spend money in HS but with full standard cards and don’t understand how one could spend all over the year on this game.

  12. Metal Militia
    October 11, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Right? Wrong? Or genius? Whether intentional or not, this a huge win for blizzard. This was in all the news. People I know who have never heard of hearthstone or blizzard are all talking about it. Bad news is good news sometimes…

  13. Spidermannerdlikeme
    October 11, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Blizzard made the right choice, they still kept the consequences but reduced the punishment to appeal to people, hopefully everyone hears this and everyone plays again

  14. Spidermannerdlikeme
    October 11, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    First one here yay!