This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, stripped of his competitive earnings (which he eventually got back) and temporarily banned from tournament play by Blizzard earlier this month for showing public support for the protests in Hong Kong, has a new esports team. Tempo Storm announced today it has signed Blitzchung, a move meant to show “support at a critical time to a prolific player” and an “unwavering commitment and advocacy for players and content creators.”
Blitzchung was originally banned for an entire year, alongside the two commentators who were present for the incident, but facing a public backlash that involved everyone from Blizzard fans to US Senators, the company eventually knocked the ban to “just” six months.
“We believe first and foremost in supporting players and encouraging them to engage and to speak out on the things about which they are most passionate,” said Tempo Storm CEO Andrey Yanyuk in a press release. “In many ways, we value the character and integrity of our players as much as, if not more than, their tournament placings.”
Separately in the release, Blitzchung called it a “dream” to become part of Tempo Storm. He claims to have been considering dropping Hearthstone as a career, but in signing with Tempo Storm, said he “will start competing again after I am unbanned” sometime in 2020.
The tone of the message suggests Tempo Storm seems to support Blitzchung’s activism. A request for clarification on this sent to Tempo Storm was not answered, as of this writing.
Blitzchung has been staying in touch with fans through both Twitter and Twitch. On the streaming service, he recently streamed a video game depicting the protests in Hong Kong.
Blizzard has not commented on these events since responding to the backlash, but this weekend, the company will hold its annual fan event, BlizzCon. At BlizzCon, the company is expected to make a series of major announcements, including reveals of Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV. There has been organizing to formally protest the event, but it remains unclear how many people’s online anger will actually translate to real-live activism.
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