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.
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.”
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.
Blizzard VP and head of development for Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, has told the Washington Post he believes that Blitzchung's punishment should be reduced further and that he doesn't support it. As such we can assume that the punishment came from the very top of the company. pic.twitter.com/sLaBpiR2w7
“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).
The competitive field in Valorant is expanding every day as the exciting new esport draws audiences and talents from multiple spaces. Here we’re taking a look at impressive names that have so far taken the leap from CSGO to Valorant.
Right off the drop, pro and casual players noticed the immediate crossover between Valve’s classic shooter and Riot’s new FPS that blends the tactical approach of the beloved Counter-Strike franchise with abilities & ultimates typically seen in League of Legends, Overwatch, and more.
This gave players who’ve dabbled in CSGO a really solid foundation to succeed in Valorant, and, unsurprisingly, those individual talents who’ve migrated to the new game have been some of the most exciting names to watch so far.
It’ll be even more hype to see these players compete in the Valorant Champions Tour circuit, so get familiar with these CSGO pros who are trailblazing the meta on Future Earth.
Shahzeeb ‘ShahZaM’ Khan
ShahZam is a longtime figure from CSGO, but has been hitting his stride in Valorant.
The thing with players like ShahZaM is that their impact on a game doesn’t show up on a stats sheet. Even in his time with CSGO teams like Complexity, Echo Fox, Optic, and Tempo Storm (to name a few), he was never the ‘star’ but a major pillar nonetheless.
That’s because the people around him felt his presence on a map, whether it was cutting off rotations, forcing players away from their objectives, or just surviving long enough for his team to come through.
Needless to say, it’s encouraging to see players like ShahZaM in Valorant’s new esports scene. A great AWPer and solid rifler, he’s been a strong part of Sentinels’ A-tier lineup and they’re primed to be a scary team in the new year.
Matthew ‘Wardell’ Yu
The OP Academy guru has been thriving in his Valorant career.
Wardell was trekking through a young CSGO career that was really just developing before making the switch to Valorant. But those that knew of Wardell’s sniping antics on Ghost Gaming, Swole Patrol, and more, were excited to see him play in Riot’s take on a tactical shooter.
And wouldn’t you know it, an explosive player like Wardell just happened to find an Agent that complimented his playstyle to a T with Jett.
Ever since his switch to Valorant, he’s been hailed as one of the game’s best OPers using game-saving clutches and flashy picks to keep TSM at the top of the heap throughout 2020.
Growing pains have already started to show with Wardell as the rest of the competition continues to improve, but it’s how the 22-year-old reacts and takes the next developmental step in his game that can set up his club for a great 2021.
Joshua ‘Steel’ Nissan
Steel has been showing his mettle in year one of Valorant.
Another embattled pro from the fallout of the iBUYPOWER decision, steel’s change to Valorant was filled with unbridled excitement to see the outspoken player under the spotlights once again.
Unlike Brax, steel is coming into his new career in Valorant at 31 years of age. But he’s already put his imprint on the game forever.
His tactical prowess and leniency to mid-round improv helps 100T stay a step ahead of younger teams. Along with Hiko, the two have shown the impact veteran players can still have in Valorant’s early phases, placing at the top of the heap during NA First Strike.
Tyler ‘Skadoodle’ Latham
Ska’s switch to Valorant surprised many, but he’s looking to make deep runs in Riot’s circuit.
A former CSGO Major Champion and AWPing pillar throughout his career, Skadoodle (who typically goes by ‘Ska’ now) tugged at the heartstrings of many loyal fans when he announced his move to Valorant.
He eventually got benched from his longtime home Cloud9, which led into a blossoming streaming career, and shortly after, signed with T1 in Valorant.
Ska was never one to make the flashy plays, but was known for systematically breaking down teams with his AWP to easily rack up clutches, multikills, or early picks.
Oscar ‘mixwell’ Cañellas
Mixwell has led G2 as one of the top Valorant teams in Europe.
As far as AWPing goes, mixell was constantly asserting his presence in CSGO events. The Spaniard was constantly a menace in the server regardless of the weapon he used.
Some of his best moments came during his time with OpTic Gaming, though it was a brief highlight marred by a slew of roster changes and inconsistent performances.
However, Mixwell now makes up the backbone of a very much in-form G2 Esports Valorant team that has superstar talent in its wings with Ardis ‘ardiis’ Svarenieks and Patryk ‘paTiTek’ Fabrowski.
Spencer ‘Hiko’ Martin
Hiko has been the glue behind First Strike NA champions 100 Thieves.
Hiko has been a part of some of the most treasured CSGO lineups in NA’s history, always playing the part of a respected voice in the room or for having some of the most rock-hard fundamentals shown in the server.
As one of the earliest adopters of Valorant, Hiko immediately brought a class to the game that fused technical play with logical approaches to a given scenario in either positioning, ability (utility) usage, or engagement theory.
That was on full display during Riot’s First Strike North America event, where Hiko’s 100 Thieves squad, featuring a compilation of former CSGO stars and upstarts, took first place over TSM.
Pushing barriers of what older players in esports can still provide, the 30-year-old contributed a First Strike best KDA of 1.39 while notching the most assists in the event with 81 across Raze and Sova to help 100T claim the first notable trophy in Valorant.
Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo
TenZ is still being the typical aim god he was in CSGO but now in Riot’s new FPS.
A dangerous CSGO player has an aptitude for deconstructing a round to find an alternative approach that the opponent doesn’t expect. Couple that with god-tier aim, and you get TenZ.
Though he floundered around teams in his CSGO career, his raw talent and approach to the game quickly put him on the map. In CSGO, Cloud9 brought him on as the next prodigy to build the team around, and although that didn’t pan out, the two eventually reconnected in Valorant.
His decision to switch impacted both scenes alternatively. While CSGO was losing one of its brightest young talents, the upcoming Valorant scene got its premier talent that was about to hit his prime as the esport developed.
Unfortunately, TenZ stepped down from C9’s Valorant team in January 2021 and is waiting for LANs to come back to the fold to decide what to do next. So there could be a time when Cloud9 gets its superstar back on the main roster.
Braxton ‘Brax’ Pierce
Brax has a chance to compete at a high level in Valorant, and he’s looking to capitalize.
The banned prodigy of CSGO, Brax. Since the match-fixing scandal essentially terminated any hope of a premier career in Valve’s shooter, the 24-year-old still has a lot of the flair he had many years ago.
Surely one of the most hyped-up pros to switch to Valorant, we never really saw a Brax in his prime. He went from a youngster with forcefully apparent talent to someone who had to sift through low-level events to stay in earshot of teams in hopes of one day coming back into the fray.
But now on T1 brax, and former CSGO teammates as well as former sharpshooting Overwatch star Ha ‘Spyder’ Jung-woo, have a chance to regroup in 2021 to show what they can bring to top-tier competition in Valorant.
Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom
ScreaM is still showing that pin-point aim in Valorant that he flaunted in CSGO.
ScreaM’s name still roars through the annals of all-time greatest CSGO highlights. For a solid period through the 2010s across CS Source and CSGO, the Belgian had crosshairs fixed solely on the heads of opponents, entertaining stadiums filled with rabid fans to no end.
However, as great as the individual was, ScreaM never strung meaningful placements at events across the multiple teams he’d been a part of.
Then he made the change to Valorant, and it changed the conversation for the better. The Aces and Clutches were once again being tallied for ScreaM, and people started seeing him replicate some of the pinpoint accuracy that he flaunted in CSGO before.
Although he dominated much of the early action with Prodigy, his time on Team Liquid has been a mixed bag of results that isn’t helped with a 5th-8th finish in First Strike Europe at the hands of eventual champions Team Heretics.
Nick ‘Nitr0’ Cannella
Nitr0 has seen the highs and lows of competition, and brings all that experience to 100T’s Valorant team.
It’s hard to make a list of the best CSGO players to make the switch to Valorant since ‘best’ is really encompassing. But in terms of in-game achievements, skill, and form at the time of their transfer, Nitr0 has to be the best.
Yes, Nitr0 isn’t the same kind of CSGO star as Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz, Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David and the like, but he’s been the foundation of Team Liquid’s many-storied lineups in his five years with the club.
Backed by an absolutely historic TL roster that included Jake ‘Stewie2K’ Yip, Keith ‘NAF’ Markovic, Russel ‘Twistzz’ Van Dulken, and Jonathan ‘EliGE’ Jablonowski, Nitr0 left CSGO with many trophies to his name in 2019.
Though they dipped in 2020, Nitr0 left the spiraling Liquid to contribute elsewhere in esports; and so far, 100 Thieves are happy he made the change.
Honorable mentions to our list include legendary IGL Kevin ‘Ex6TenZ’ Droolans, who recently signed with longtime rivals Ninjas in Pyjamas but has yet to premiere alongside his team to provide that veteran spark sought out by many teams; Kirill ‘ANGE1’ Karasiow who’s been an absolute beast for FunPlus Phoenix; Ardis ‘ardiis’ Svarenieks who is the best player in G2 Esports; Michael ‘dapr’ Gulino after his move to the Sentinels; and Fatih ‘gob b’ Dayik who is leading BIG as Head of CS:GO while playing for their new Valorant team.
Valorant is nowhere near its final form, in terms of what’s actually in the game (i.e. Agents, maps, infrastructure), but it’s already attracting professionals from other ingrained esports. As Valorant continues to grow, more CSGO pros could be tempted to make the switch.