Banned Hearthstone player blitzchung signs with Tempo Storm

Hearthstone player Wai Chung "blitzchung" Ng has been signed by esports team Tempo Storm. Blitzchung was banned by Blizzard Entertainment for showing support during a post-tournament interview for Hong Kong protesters. Courtesy of Tempo Storm

Tempo Storm has signed banned Hearthstone pro player Wai Chung "blitzchung" Ng, the team told ESPN on Thursday.

Blitzchung made international news several weeks ago after Blizzard Entertainment banned him for supporting the Hong Kong protests against the Chinese government during an interview on a tournament livestream.

On Oct. 8, Blizzard initially levied a 12-month ban and revoked blitzchung's winnings from the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament. The California-based game developer three days later said it would shorten the punishment to a six-month suspension and said it would pay out the prize money in full.

"I am excited to be a part of Tempo Storm," blitzchung told ESPN in a statement. "They have been supportive during my ban and want to help me build for when I return and can compete. I am looking forward to playing professional Hearthstone again. Thanks to Tempo Storm and all of my fans for supporting me!"

Reactions to blitzchung's ban ranged from online backlash from consumers to a bipartisan Congresssional delegation writing a letter to the company asking Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to reverse the company's disciplinary actions against blitzchung. Protests are also planned for the company's annual BlizzCon event in Anaheim, California, on Friday and Saturday.

Tempo Storm is one of the foremost Hearthstone teams and have been a participant in a number of Blizzard Entertainment titles over the years. Its founder Andrey "Reynad" Yanyuk is a popular card game streamer on Twitch, becoming best known for his professional play in Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone, and is working to develop a card game of his own.

"The first thing we look for when scouting potential Tempo players is character," Reynad told ESPN. "Results and metrics matter, but they don't paint the whole picture. Our players are ambassadors of our brand and values. For this reason, we sign players that we respect and admire in-game and out. Tempo is proud of the stance Blitzchung took, and of the courage needed to take it. We're honored to have Blitzchung represent Tempo moving forward."