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Betting on free speech at the The League of Legends World Championship

Kristian Dyer

Political speech is now something that can be wagered on, at least when it comes to The League of Legends World Championship. One wagering firm is taking bets on if political statements will be made at the upcoming championships in Berlin.

This weekend’s The League of Legends World Championship could be the next battlefront for the democratic movement in Hong Kong. Last week, Ng Wai Chung, who is known by his gaming handle of Blitzchung, had been banned and stripped of his earnings after an interview on the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters broadcast of Hearthstone. In the interview, Blitzchung made a pro-democratic statement and was summarily stripped of his winnings, and was banned because of his statement by the game's owner, which is partially owned by Tencent, a Chinese media company..

Now, political speech inspired by Blitzchung is open to bets. SportsBetting.ag is offering three wagering lines on the topic for this weekend’s championship:

  • “Will any team make a statement in support of Hong Kong?” (1:3 odds)
  • "Will any member of Hong Kong Attitude make a statement in support of Hong Kong?” (1:8 odds)
  • “Will any member of a . . . team make a statement in support of China with regards to Hong Kong?" (1:8 odds)

The case at the center of the betting odds continues to draw more attention to the protests in Hong Kong.

Blitzchung wore a gas mask while conducting the interview, a nod to the protesters in Hong Kong. At the end of the interview shouted "Liberate Hong Kong! The revolution of our times!"

This was deemed by Activision Blizzard to be against the game’s code of conduct, the game’s owner and operator. Blitzchung was stripped of his winnings and banned for the statement. Days later, Activision Blizzard caved to pressure and re-instated the winnings while cutting the suspension to six months.

Blitzchung responded to his commuted punishment by posting his appreciation on social media channels, but he has left the question of his future participation in the esports community open.

"Honestly, I have no idea on that yet," Blitzchung wrote about if he will compete again. "Since my next tournament is very likely to be the grandmaster tournament of next season, it's probably at least a few months from now on. I will take this time to relax myself to decide if I am staying in competitive hearthstone scene or not."

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