Blizzard Entertainment's PR nightmare following its controversial decision to suspend pro "Hearthstone" player Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung for making pro-Hong Kong remarks just doesn't seem to end. Now, there are reports claiming that the company also lost a major sponsorship deal with Mitsubishi Motors Taiwan amid the controversy. Mitsubishi decided to end ties with the video game company and pulled out of Blizzard's pro gaming league as a sponsor after it banned Wai Chung for vocalizing his support for Hong Kong supporters earlier this month.
Rumors that Mitsubishi had pulled its sponsorship first surfaced after some Reddit users noticed that the Mitsubishi logo had disappeared from the backdrop of an official tournament broadcast. Erica Rasch, a spokesperson for the car manufacturer later confirmed that it had parted ways with Blizzard. Mitsubishi's Taiwanese branch had sponsored all of Blizzard's e-sports events, which means the company's decision pull out is a huge loss for Blizzard during what seems like an increasingly difficult time for the video game publisher.
Wai Chung was initially banned for a year and not only was he suspended from participating in pro tournaments but his $3000 winnings from the tournament were also confiscated. Blizzard's decision to ban Wai Chung met with widespread criticism from fans, the gaming community, and within Blizzard as well. The company faced a widespread boycott, condemnations from US lawmakers, and even employee walkouts following its decision, prompting Blizzard to reduce Blitzchung's ban to six months.
Activision-Blizzard is partly owned by Chinese media giant, Tencent, which also has ties with the Chinese Communist Party who oppose the Hong Kong protests. However, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack issued a statement asserting that the company's business interests in China had no influence over its decision to ban the player, which many are not buying. Blizzard operates several online video games in China, and also oversees e-sports teams and leagues with some of its popular titles like "Overwatch" and "Hearthstone" in the country.
A week after Blizzard banned Wai Chung, the company suspended three American college students who held up a "Free Hong Kong" protest sign during the Hearthstone Collegiate Championships, as we previously reported.