When Hearthstone grandmaster Chung "blitzchung" Ng Wai called for the release of Hong Kong during an interview after the October match, Blizzard's reaction was harsh: Annual stoppage of play, downgrades by the Grandmasters and loss of all his seasons two winnings. Blizzard eventually weakened slightly, reducing its suspension from one year to six months and restoring its profits, but still it was a very serious punishment for one of the world's best Hearthstone pros.
One very surprising critic of Blizzard's manipulation of the situation is Jeff Kaplan, FPS Overwatch's CEO, based in the Blizzard team. Kaplan told the Washington Post that he was relieved when Blizzard reduced Blitzchung's suspension and also thought it should be "reduced more or removed".
"I am clearly a big proponent of freedom of speech; that's something that is very important to me, ”Kaplan said. "Personally, I got it. I think the punishment was too harsh and I was very relieved when he got his money back. I think it was extremely important."
Kaplan stated that he and most of the Overwatch team were not aware of the situation until it began to appear on news sites, and that he believed it had been processed "too quickly". He regularly participates in bans and suspensions that violate the rules of Overwatch League players, he said, and said the sentencing process usually takes four or five days.
"There has always been a group of us that has been involved in the solution of punishment must be and we would be strongly advocates of the devil in every part of the decision. So I was actually shocked that such a harsh punishment was required, "he said.
This is an unexpected position from someone who may be Blizzard's most famous developer, but Kaplan also emphasized that he was talking only about himself and that other Blizzard employees may feel differently: "I think as individuals, we all have very different feelings about what happened with the Hearthstone and Blitzchung tournament. There is a very, very different reaction among all of us. "
Blizzard President J. Alan Brack apologized to fans for Blizzard's handling of the issue, saying during his main comment on BlizzCon that the company was" moving too fast in its decision-making "However, he did not apologize to Blitzchung or reduce his sentence further.