Esports

Jeff Kaplan explains why he wants Blitzchung ban dropped

by Andy Williams

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Blizzard Vice President, Jeff Kaplan, has revealed that he believes Ng Wai ‘Blitzchung’ Chung’s suspension should now be “eliminated” amid the controversy that has ensued, after the Hearthstone player used his GrandMasters victory to support the Hong Kong protests.

After Blitzchung called for the liberation of Hong Kong during a post-match interview, Blizzard clamped down on the Hong Kong native — dishing out a one year ban, retracting two season’s worth of earnings and stripping Chung of his GrandMasters status. 

Following on from the community backlash, Blizzard refined the suspension to a six-month ban and reinstated Chung’s earnings. However, fast-forward to one month after the incident and the Blizzard VP has expressed his views on the situation.

Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment
The Hong Kong native removed his gas mask to make the comments.

Blizzard President, J. Allen Brack, addressed the BlizzCon 2019 audience with an apologetic opening before stating: "We will do better moving forward. Our actions are going to mean more than these words.”

One week after the convention, Kaplan has expressed his thoughts on the current state of affairs in an interview with the Washington Post, explaining that “the suspension should be reduced more or eliminated.” 

“It got to me personally,” Kaplan said. “I think the punishment was too harsh and I was greatly relieved when they gave (Blitzchung) his money back — I think that was extremely important.”

BlizzCon 2019 (Blizzard Entertainment)
BlizzCon 2019 (Blizzard Entertainment)
Kaplan officially unveiled Overwatch 2 to the world during BlizzCon 2019.

The Blizzard VP then went on to explain how there are conflicting emotions flying around Blizzard: “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.”

Richard Lewis has also weighed-in on Kaplan’s comments, stating: “We can assume that the punishment came from the very top of the company” since the Blizzard executive appeared to have little to no say in the punishment that was served.

“I’m obviously a huge supporter of free speech; it’s something that’s very important to me,” Kaplan said, as he edged in his personal standpoint during the interview.

Although Blizzard have already reflected upon their decision and made amendments accordingly, there are more twists to this tale which now appears to internally refute the company’s core value of “every voice matters” (as per their mission statement).