A professional video game player from Hong Kong has been banned from a top global tournament after shouting slogans in support of anti-government protests in the city. It’s the latest example of how a popular sport has been dragged into tensions over the months-long political unrest.
Ng Wai Chung, also known as “Blitzchung,” was a competitor in the ongoing Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament, in the Asia-Pacific division. The event was for players of the online card game Hearthstone.
During an interview after a match last weekend, Ng appeared on a livestream wearing goggles and a gas mask — an allusion to months of protests in Hong Kong, where demonstrators have taken to the streets wearing similar gear.
Ng shouted the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” in Mandarin before the stream cut away to the two presenters.
Ng’s comments on the livestream were later republished on Twitter by the esports news website Inven Global.
On Tuesday, Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone’s developer and publisher, said in a statement that Ng’s words constituted “individual behavior which does not represent Blizzard or Hearthstone Esports.”
According to Blizzard, Ng violated a competition rule that prohibits “engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group or the public, or otherwise damages (the) Blizzard image.”