Back in April, Overwatch player Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park, who is from Overwatch League team Seoul Dynasty, ruffled a lot of feathers with his criticism of Chinese censorship during a Twitch live stream in April.
This resulted in a boycott from certain Chinese teams, which recently ended. Previously, Saebyeolbe and his team were boycotted by Chinese Overwatch League teams Hangzhou Spark, Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, and Shanghai Dragons from matches & activities involving each other after he said the following about the “One China” policy:
“I can’t call Taiwan, Taiwan. Taiwan is not a separate country. Hong Kong is also not a country. I can’t say that. I can’t say Taiwan and HK. At all. They don’t recognize them as countries. I got into so much trouble for saying their names.
So I was sad about that. Like, fuck, make it make sense. What are you talking about, ‘One China?’ So I objected to that and all the managers said, ‘If you want to earn Chinese money, you have to become a Chinese dog.”
Saebyeolbe has apologized, but the teams didn’t buy it. Fortunately, the matter has been resolved. Here’s an official statement from an Overwatch League spokesperson:
“The Overwatch League is a global community, one made stronger by the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of our players and fans. We have discussed this matter with all teams involved and the learnings that have come from it. In the spirit of sportsmanship and continuing to deliver amazing competition for our fans around the world, the teams have agreed to resume normal activities with one another.”
The involved teams released their own similar statements via Twitter.
— Shanghai Dragons (@ShanghaiDragons) May 6, 2021
— Seoul Dynasty 🐯 (@SeoulDynasty) May 6, 2021
This isn’t a first time an esports player in a Blizzard game has sparked controversy with comments about China; in 2019, Hearthstone grandmaster Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai caused a ruckus when he wore a mask and goggles in a post-match celebration stream and was in support of the Hong Kong protests.