Hearthstone Ban

This will probably be an unpopular opinion. But I agree with the action taken based on the tournament rules. Here is the rule in question


Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms. 

But he used the opportunity to express his opinion on a human rights issue in his country!!

It doesn’t matter. If he had come out saying Trump 2020, make Hearthstone great again, had done the post game interview showing pictures of aborted babies calling for an end to abortion, had made a derogatory statement on any race of people or players, had made anti LGBT statements, they all fall under the same umbrella of code of conduct. Over the years I have seen people lose their jobs by making a personal statement about their employer on social media. Free speech does not apply when you have a contract stipulating how they feel you should act as a representative of the company you work for. I read statements that 1/7th of the population in China is protesting. That’s 12%. Is what China is doing right or wrong? It doesn’t matter.

The world has fallen into bad habit of letting certain rules slide, and others get punished. NFL players taking a knee is acceptable behavior, a player wearing pink socks to show support for his mother fighting breast cancer gets a fine or suspension. Some teams overlook domestic violence accusations because of how much they need the player, others cut players loose because they make comments about the coach or owners. If you are going to make your career as an athlete, the face of a product, a representative of a business, your job is on the line if you want to make comments that the company disagrees with. Blizzard corporate may even agree with his stand, but not everyone does, and the only recourse they have is to issue a ban based on the code of conduct that the players agree to.

I’m sorry if this opinion offends anyone, but it is just the plain basic facts.


Some additional things;

U.S. Employees
The U.S. national employees of a U.S. company abroad must observe the laws of the land wherever they are working and living and typically do not enjoy any type of diplomatic immunity or protection from observing such laws; they are subject to the penalties applied to local citizens if laws are breached. Many countries forbid taking pictures of government or military structures; others, such as Singapore, have strict laws against spitting on the pavement in public places.

You cannot take the stand that it is legal here, so therefore it should be legal there.  I mean there are countries where it is acceptable for a man to have sex with a child, as long as they are married, or where certain drugs are legal, medical procedures, I could probably come up with a long list.  Taking the one example, Jeffery Epstein was accused of engaging in sex with underage girls, in foreign countries where it may have been legal to do so.  So we are applying US morality on actions that took place in other countries.  You could legally purchase large quantities of drugs in other countries, you can use and smoke there, but once you are back here, you better not have it on your person.  How many actors, or sports players have done questionable things, or made comments in other countries that have had repercussions here.

Myley Cyrus in banned from China because of a photo where she is slanting her eyes.

Brad Pitts film Seven Years in Tibet, and its portrayal of the 14th Dalai Lama in a positive light (along with communist officers depicted negatively), officials banned him from the country.

Jay-Z’s lyrics were deemed too “vulgar” for Chinese audiences, and he was banned from the country.

After her 2004 felony charges, Martha Stewart was turned away from the U.K. in 2008—she’d planned to speak at the Royal Academy there.

After he assaulted Rihanna, his girlfriend at the time, Brown was subsequently given a temporary ban from the U.K., Canada, and Australia. His bans in Australia and the U.K. still stand.

Harrison Ford, who had criticized China’s treatment of Tibet, was also banned from China.

Russia denied Selena Gomez a visa due to her support of gay rights. She’d been set to perform at St. Petersburg’s Ice Palace before the government turned down her via application, apparently for fear that she’d speak out at her concert about the issue.

The ban was lifted in 2008, but during South Africa’s apartheid, when Mandela was officially classified as a terrorist, America banned him from the country.

The singer was set to perform a private concert in Egypt when officials moved to stop him. His being gay, his support for gay rights, and his criticism of religion were all factors in the ban.
So yeah, bans happen all over the world all the time, the list for Overwatch league is huge


Did Blizzard slip up by having a vague rule in the tournament rules? Certainly then did, and like any set of rules there will be addendum’s to them where they will specifically state that discussion of politics is a banable offense.  The action taken was to the extreme is was, because that was the rule.

will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD

I am sure they will adjust it to allow for lesser suspensions and loss of prize money for that particular tournament.   You cannot think of every possible issue that may come up, so you have to make broad rules that will discourage most from breaking them.  Blizzard will survive this, Hong Kong will continue to be a part of China, unless it is in China’s interest to cut it loose, the young man that has lost a year of being able to play professionally will probably be back playing for another team or another country next year. And next week we will be looking for the next thing to rally behind and project our views on.  It’s an imperfect world, while we may personally feel things are not right in that country, there are a lot of people that live there that are perfectly happy with how things are.

14 thoughts on “Hearthstone Ban

  1. Gotta agree with you, Mate. The rules are clearly stated, and if someone does not wish to abide by them, they do not need to compete. This has nothing to do with agreeing or not agreeing with the guy’s sentiment on Hong Kong, but everything to do with a contractual obligation.

    What most people fail to remember about the American First Amendment — so-called “freedom of speech” — Is that it applies to GOVERNMENT suppression of political speech. Private entities may legally restrict it pretty much as they wish, particularly during events designed to further the entity. This in fact has always been my stance on the “taking a knee” issue — the NFL as a private entity has the right to censure players who act in a way that costs the NFL money. Just as, for example, a store clerk who routinely criticizes the store to customers would not long be employed by that store. I am actually sympathetic to the knee-taking players, but the fact is they know the possible cost of their actions in advance. To whine that they should not suffer consequences for a principled protest is not really much of a protest. The whole point should be a willingness to give up something for an important cause.

    The one thing I wonder, though, is if Blizz would have been as willing to take this action had he not offended a powerful economic entity, if instead he had “merely” lightly offended a few gays or women. I would like to believe the answer is yes, but I have my doubts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If he had lightly offended a group, it would all depend. If it was a Nazi gate group they probably wouldn’t have cared, if he offended some other group with a huge social media presence? At least a slap on the wrist and an admonishment, until public pressure demanded more. It’s a double standard that we expect global companies to bow to what we feel is right or wrong.


  2. It’s a bad position for Blizzard to be in. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    On a local, low level scale of tournament rules, I’d agree that any act of “misbehavior” – and an unplanned, uncleared statement of opinion (no matter how morally right) is certainly a breach of code of conduct. You could make a personal fundraising appeal for a little kid dying of cancer and still be in violation of that code, because it’s wrong time, wrong place to go public with that, when you’re ostensibly representing a company and a brand.

    Enforcing the rules as stated has ended up with this uproar and a really really bad look for Blizzard. Even if there aren’t autocratic and insulted Chinese masters/CEOs at the top of the food chain whose feeding hand you don’t want to bite, the conspiracy theorists are going to be loud enough to create the Chinese Illuminati for you. Which will set off all the anti-Chinese American sentiments out there too, and those protests rattle down a more moderate spectrum into discomfort, freedom of speech sentiments and boycotts.

    Someone made a really hasty decision at Blizzard and is now paying the price for it.

    Not sure if there’s a cleverer threading the needle third option that could have been made here. Something like a blanket statement that the antics of the one player were unplanned and not necessarily reflective of the company, that it was the wrong forum chosen to express those views and that Blizzard are reviewing the matter. Then talk to the player in question, in private, see if he is unrepentant (he probably will be) or is willing to make a statement that it was the wrong forum to express perfectly legitimate personal views. And then impose some kind of sliding scale penalty – fines, time bans, etc.

    At the moment, the all-or-nothing punitive action by Blizzard is like slashing your own wrists and walking into a den of hungry media vampires.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “had made anti LGBT statements”
    What if it was pro LGBT statement? I remind you that LGBT portrayal is banned in China and even the greatest virtue signalers like Disney cut out anything LGBT related from their movies. What if it was something like Black Lives Matter? The fact that you used something that radical conservative would’ve said to explain your opinion when the statement was against oppressive regime that doesn’t want gays around and puts Muslim minority into literal concentration camps is astonishing.
    And no, I understand why they did what they did, it doesn’t excuse them from moral standpoint. You don’t get to praise yourself for being diverse and inclusive and then shut your mouth when it comes to Chinese money.


  4. I think I agree that the action that Blizzard took was completely within the tournament rules, and that their action is neither unexpected nor surprising, and that not taking action could have had expensive impact on their relationship with the Chinese market. And I concur that this ban isn’t itself a “freedom of speech” issue.

    I also think that the Woolworth in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960 was completely within local law when they insisted that Blacks could not sit at the segregated lunch counter.

    Likewise, in 1968, the International Olympic Committee was completely within their rights to insist on the removal of Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the games after their upraised fist salute on the medal podium in Mexico City.

    Interestingly enough, our sympathies do not generally align with the authorities in either of those instances, and I don’t think they should align with Blizzard in this one.

    I haven’t yet decided exactly what I’ll do about this, personally. Like Bhagpuss stated in his blog, I don’t actually expect much from “corporate values”. But I’m not happy with this choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Olympic s is a good example. Athletes around the world are instructed on what the customs and laws are in the country hosting the games. Just because you are American, or German, Russian, Italian, British, does not give you the same freedoms or speech or actions, as you may have in your own country.

      We are looking at a country run as a Socialist Democracy. While we may sympathize and agree with the sentiment of the situation, the reality is that in that country, or territory, what he said not only goes against the tournament rules, which he stated he was well aware of and knew there would be repercussions, it is also breaking the laws of their country. Questioning the government is not something they allow.


      1. A significant part of the controversy in Hong Kong is that the protestors in Hong Kong state their belief that the government of the mainland has in fact violated the terms of the handover agreement between Great Britain and the PRC as set out in such things at the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, which (among other things) guarantees Freedoms of Speech and Assembly.

        Furthermore, the tournament was held on the island of Taipei, where there is significant protection for Freedom of Speech. So (legally speaking) it appears to my I-am-not-a-lawyer eye that the comments should have been legally acceptable in both the venue and the home location. I’m not sure I agree that what was said in this case was against the law.

        Further, Blizzard’s own tournament rules state that it is the sole discretion of Blizzard whether something is offensive or brings things into disrepute.

        So… if it isn’t illegal at the venue, nor (de jure, not de facto) illegal back home for this athlete, that leaves Blizzard holding the entire responsibility bag, in my view. Now, they get to do that. It’s their ball, their backyard, their tournament, their rules. All good. But, like the 1968 IOC, that means they also get to own the way this paints them.

        Blizzard could have chosen to disavow the statement, express the statement that as a company they avoid politics, and that they lack the wisdom to intervene or comment on actions between nations. They didn’t have to fire the casters, they could have warned them. But they chose, at their sole discretion, to be as harsh as they possibly could and to kowtow to Beijing as much as they possibly could. In the range of possible responses, they went to 10. And nobody forced them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I would really need to go research it, but I recall a long time ago China and Hong Kong being in the news. It’s a situation that has gone on for a lot longer than I have been alive. It may have been heavy handed, but they had one rule that they could apply, and the penalty was very steep. There isn’t a caveat that length of the ban, or amounts were flexible based on the severity. I’m sure the addendum that will be a part of next seasons rules will be a lot more detailed.


  5. What annoys me most is, that if this incident never happend 90-95% of the people who are outraged now wouldn’t even care what is happening in Hong Kong. And let’s be real most of them still don’t, they just want to point fingers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like most things in the world, this is old news. In 100 years China and Hong Kong will still be arguing over who has control of the country. Palestinians and Israelis will still be lobbing bombs at each other, Iran, Iraq, Syria, etc will still be fighting wars that have spanned thousands of years. People will still jump on the latest cause of the week, threaten to pull support for X company unless they fix the world for them.

      Liked by 1 person

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