Hong Kong

What Happened

This week Blizzard has been in the spotlight following their suspension of Hearthstone player “Blitzchung.” During a tournament livestream, Blitzchung showed his support of protesters in Hong Kong by yelling, “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!”

The stream immediately cut away, and later Blizzard announced that he had been removed from the rest of the tournament, that he is suspended from Hearthstone esports for one year, and his winnings have been reduced to $0. Their reasoning is enforcing their tournament rule, “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…”

protest.png Photo from InvenGlobal’s clip of the stream as the original has been deleted.

Since Then

Since then, Blizzard fans, Blizzard employees, and even some politicians have shared their disappointment with the decision, saying Blizzard has gone against their own morals by giving in to the Chinese government’s attitude towards the Hong Kong protesters.

The #BoycottBlizzard hashtag took off, with players calling for each other to either stop supporting Blizzard’s games, deleting accounts, or changing BattleTags to support Hong Kong, some employees held a protest where they even covered up the words “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters” on the statue on the Blizzard Campus that declares their values, and two US lawmakers have made remarks against Blizzard’s actions.

Others are trying to make Mei the face of Hong Kong protesters, and Zedd, who performed at this year’s OWL Grand Finals said he’s been banned from China for liking a South Park tweet, though this statement has not been confirmed and he may be making a joke against the Chinese government.

auProtest.png Photo from clip of the stream.

This week, players from American University participating in a US collegiate Hearthstone tournament have pointed out hypocrisy in Blizzard’s actions, after they shared a sign on stream saying, “Support Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz” and they were not suspended. That team has now also forfeit its games for the rest of the tournament in protest, and are no longer participating in Hearthstone tournaments.

As of this writing, Blizzard has not commented on the events since the original suspension.

More Info

For many gamers, this is the first time the Hong Kong protests have come to the forefront of their view. If you want to catch up on why people are protesting, here are a few links:

“Why are there massive protests in Hong Kong?” by the Washington Post (June 11, 2019)

“The Hong Kong protests explained in 100 and 500 words” by BBC News (September 19, 2019)

“Timeline: The Hong Kong protests” by World Magazine (September 19, 2019)

Esports

New Contenders Format for 2020

contenders2020.jpg Graphic from OverwatchLeague.com.

Contenders is going to look much different come 2020 in an effort to allow more teams an opportunity to rise up to the top than the current format allows.

1) It will be split into Atlantic and Pacific conferences, just like the Overwatch League.

2) During the main season, there will be bi-weekly tournaments where Contenders and Contenders Trials alternate weeks.

3) Teams in Contenders will accumulate points based on their performance to qualify for regional playoffs.

To begin the move into the new format, all teams from Contenders Season 2 2019 will participate in a double-elimination tournament to determine seeds for 2020.

Open Division Season 1 will take place for 7 weeks (the 7th week) is playoffs.

The top performers will partake in regional playoffs and there will be two seasons full seasons, one for each half of the year. The Showdown and Gauntlet will be returning as well, and more details on those are coming at a later date.

Shock on The Tonight Show

San Francisco Shock players Sinatraa and Super made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this past Monday night.

Fan of the Shock or not, this is a big moment for the League and esports in general, further introducing the sport and concepts to a general mass audience.

OWL Rosterpocalypse 2019

mayhem.jpg Photo provided to Blizzard Entertainment by Ben Pursell.

Many players have been removed from their teams this past week. I’ve been a bit slow to update while I’m on vacation, but our tracker should be up to date as of press time.

Rosterpocalypse 2019 Tracker

Just after press last week, the Overwatch League posted a list of which players were under contract, which had a team option (chance to stay with their team), and whose contracts had expired. While a number of moves have happened since the post went up, it’s still valid reading should you want to see which of your favorite players may be eligible to move to a new home for next year.