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During a recent match contested as part of the Collegiate Hearthstone Championship, the aptly named team “American University” held up a sign in the middle of a round. Reading “Free Hong Kong, boycott Blizzard” the official livestream was promptly cut in a presumed effort for the company to save face.
The wider Blizzard Hong Kong controversy arose when professional Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai proclaimed “Liberate Hong Kong” during live coverage of the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters. Said while donning a mask similar to those worn by protestors of the Chinese government during recent demonstrations, the two presenting casters quickly ducked out of shot and the live feed was cut. When Blitzchung was resultingly stripped of his winnings and the casters subsequently lost their jobs — many argue merely through collateral damage and no fault of their own — a section of the gaming community decided to quit playing Blizzard games in solidarity.
With players opting out of Hearthstone and WoW Classic, American University decided to contribute to the cause by showcasing their thoughts on Blizzard’s own platform. When the boycott sign is held up, which you can see take place below, the casters in this instance completely ignore the protest through it seems clear that the opposing team is well aware of what’s transpiring. The three team members of winning side Worcester Poly almost appear to be tickled, though maintain their composure as the feed transitions to feature them fullscreen.
Knowing that it’s possible to suffer by merely being associated with the ongoing protests through chance, it’s understandable that both the opposing team and casters would be reluctant to openly acknowledge what was happening. As far as repercussions for the American University team go, it’s currently unknown what form they might take.