A well-known Overwatch League coach was recently instructed to delete a Hong Kong tweet posted in support of Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai.
Justin “Jayne” Conroy is perhaps best known as the coach for Overwatch League team Dallas Fuel, but he’s also the General Manager for Team Canada. Jayne was a popular star on YouTube and Twitch before joining OWL, having become famous after posting videos critiquing Overwatch plays in order to help people improve their game.
The Hong Kong tweet in question, which has since been deleted, was screenshotted by a Twitter user and is still circulating in that form. It reads as follows:
“While I recognize the right that @Blizzard_Ent has to enforce their rules and standards on competitors such as @blitzchung_HS, I condemn the censorship and severity of consequences brought against an individual who was campaigning for a human rights social movement.”
— Ben Orlebeke (@ben_orlebeke) October 10, 2019
Although it was initially up in the air as to whether or not Jayne was forced to delete the tweet or did so of his own volition, a report from The Dallas Morning News confirms that he was directed to remove the critical tweet. (Unfortunately, this article is not available to European readers).
At the beginning of this year’s BlizzCon, Blizzard apologized for its poor response to Hearthstone player Blitzchung’s political comments, which resulted in a two-year ban and rescission of prize money. However, the decision to make Jayne delete his tweet nullifies that attempt at reparation. It undermines the supposed sincerity of J. Allen Brack’s apology, which included the following phrase:
“We will do better going forward and our actions will prove it. It is everyone’s right to express themselves in all places.”
Clearly Blizzard has not honored its purported values, as it has not respected Jayne’s right to express himself. That hasn’t stopped fans outside of Blizzard’s corporate structure from protesting though: just yesterday, a child chanted “Free Hong Kong” repeatedly during a Q&A following the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands panel. Blizzard can try to silence its employees, but has no power over its fans.
Update: The instruction to delete the tweet was from before this weekend, but still flies in the face of Blizzard’s apology, which references Blitzchung’s actions but is at odds with Jayne’s since. Bracks’ statement from this weekend directly contradicts what they attempted to get away with under the radar.