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Blizzard Vice President and Overwatch game director, Jeff Kaplan, stated that he believes Ng Wai ‘Blitzchung’ Chung’s suspension from competing professionally in Hearthstone should be either reduced more or completely eliminated.
After Blitzchung voiced his opinion in regards to the liberation of Hong Kong while on Blizzard’s stream, Blizzard suspended him for a whole year from competing professionally and stripped away his tournament earnings.
Blizzard received massive backlash from the community, and as such decided to reduce the suspension period to 6 months and to give Blitzchung his tournament prize earnings.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Kaplan shared his thoughts about Blitzchungs punishment, emphasizing that he is a huge supporter of free speech.
“I was relieved when they reduced his suspension,” Kaplan said. “And I think the suspension should be reduced more or eliminated. But that’s just me.”
Kaplan explained that a lot of Blizzard employees have conflicting opinions in regards to the situation. “I think as individuals, we all have very different feelings about what happened in regards to the Hearthstone tournament and Blitzchung. There is a lot of very different reaction among all of us.”
Kaplan shared that most of his staff, including himself, didn’t know about the incident until they saw news articles on the subject. He mentioned that he was shocked that such a harsh punishment was levied. As someone that took part in the conversations when handling punishments for Overwatch League players, it usually took them four to five days before agreeing on a fair punishment.
At BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard President, J. Allen Brack, apologized for the company’s quick decision on Blitzchung’s punishment and stated, “We will do better moving forward. Our actions are going to mean more than these words.”