Popular collectible card game personality and longtime Hearthstone caster/streamer Brian Kibler stepped down from his position as official BlizzCon Grandmasters finals caster today in response to Blizzard’s penalization of Hearthstone Grandmasters Asia Pacific winner Blitzchung at the beginning of the week.
“I feel what Blitzchung did was very brave,” Kibler said in the beginning of the statement on his website. “He knew that his actions would likely have serious consequences, not just for his future in Hearthstone but possibly even for his personal safety, and I commend him for the fortitude that takes.”
— Brian Kibler (@bmkibler) October 9, 2019
While Kibler agrees that Blizzard was correct in punishing Blitzchung for his actions on their official broadcast, as “they do not want to set the precedent for their official broadcasts being used as political tools. The players agreed to particular rules for behavior, and he violated those rules,” he went on to say that he thought the punishment itself was taken too far.
“The punishment meted out to Blitzchung is incredibly harsh,” Kibler continued. “I could understand a fine, or even a short suspension from competitive play, but removal from Grandmasters, clawing back the prizes he already earned, and banning him for a full year seems completely overboard to an extent that feels completely unwarranted and unfair.”
“I won’t pretend to understand either the intricacies of the geopolitical situation in China and Hong Kong or the full extent of Blizzard’s business interests there, but to me this penalty feels like it is deeply rooted in both,” Kibler explained as the reasoning for his decision. “The heavy-handedness of it feels like someone insisted that Blizzard make an example of Blitzchung, not only to discourage others from similar acts in the future but also to appease those upset by the outburst itself.”
“That kind of appeasement is simply not something I can in good conscience be associated with. When I learned about the ruling, I reached out to Blizzard and informed them that I no longer feel comfortable casting the Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon. I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision. Unless something changes, I will have no involvement in Grandmasters moving forward.”
Do you think Brian Kibler’s resignation was justified? Did he handle the decision in a professional manner? Sound off in the comments.