Despite Blizzard initially stating that the American university team would go unpunished for their support of the Hong Kong protests, it seems that the company has gone back on their original decision. In case you missed the initial chaos, last week Blizzard found themselves in severely hot water when they banned and removed the prize money for a pro Hearthstone Hong Kong player that recently spoke up in support of the ongoing protests. Since then, Blizzard has rescinded their initial punishment in a bad PR move that looked as if they were hoping to sweep the controversy under the rug as more and more pro players rose up in solidarity, and fans worldwide calling to "Boycott Blizzard."
Following the initial ban, the American University Collegiate team also stood with their Hong Kong fellow player, though at the time did not receive the same punishment. Now it looks like the company is going back on their initial overlooking of a similar protest because the American team just received notice that they have been given the 6-month boot.
Happy to announce the AU Hearthstone team received a six month ban from competition. While delayed I appreciate all players being treated equally and no one being above the rules. pic.twitter.com/mZStoF0e0t— Casey Chambers (@Xcelsior_hs) October 16, 2019
"During week 4 of the Fall 2019 Hearthstone Collegiate Championships, players GiantDwarf, TJammer and Xcelsior were in violation of section 7.1.B of the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship rules for engaging in behavior disruptive to the official esports broadcast," the formal ruling outlines.
"The players are disqualified from the ongoing tournament and will be ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 6 months, beginning from October 8th, 2019 and extending to April 8th, 2020. Following the 6 months suspension, the players may, at their discretion, continue to participate in Hearthstone esports."
"We strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the many places available to express themselves. However, our official broadcast needs to be about the game and the competition, and to be a place where all are welcome," Blizzard mentioned in their statement statement.
"If we allow the introduction of personal views about sensitive issues into the channel, it ceases to be what it’s meant for—esports. We have rules in place to support this, to which these competitors, as well as others at all levels, have agreed. They knowingly broke those rules and we’ve suspended them from Hearthstone esports for six months."
Casey Chambers, otherwise known as Xcelsior, mentioned that they were hoping to trigger this response because it wasn't fair for the company to treat one team/player one way, while ignoring similar actions in others. "This one was pretty cut and dry. We knew what we were doing and expected the punishment," he wrote. "The problem was Blizzard ignoring our protest for PR reasons but going after Blitzchung."