Embattled US games giant Blizzard has lost one of its major esports tournament sponsors, it has emerged.
In a Daily Beast report published Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Mitsubishi Motors Taiwan told the publication that the firm ended its sponsorship of Blizzard's esports events just two days after Blizzard banned esports competitor Chung Ng Wai.
Before the Daily Beast report emerged, there had been speculation on Reddit about whether or not Mitsubishi had quietly ended its sponsorship of Blizzard's esports coverage. The speculation began after eagle-eyed Redditors noticed that Mitsubishi's logo was no longer present in the background during official competition broadcasts.
News of the sponsorship loss comes amid a time of intense, ongoing controversy for Blizzard. The controversy was sparked earlier this month after Blizzard's initial decision to ban Chung Ng Wai for a year and revoke his prize money. Chung had shouted 'Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!' in Chinese during an official 'Hearthstone' tournament livestream.
Blizzard's decision to ban and fine was met with widespread condemnation from gamers, from politicians like Marco Rubio and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and even, reportedly, from employees at Blizzard's parent company, Activision Blizzard.
Although Blizzard later halved Chung's ban to six months and reinstated his prize money, it has continued to mete out bans to other esports competitors who've pulled similar stunts. Three collegiate Hearthstone competitors were banned for six months each after holding up a sign that read "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz" near the end of a livestreamed match.
Suspicions of Chinese state influence on Blizzard exist because Activision Blizzard – Blizzard's parent company – is part-owned by Tencent, the Chinese tech conglomerate.
For its part, Blizzard has consistently denied that China has influenced any of its actions. In a statement on Blizzard's website published after the initial Chung ban, Blizzard's president J. Allen Brack wrote: "I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision."
Neither Mitsubishi nor Blizzard immediately responded to Business Insider's request for comment.