Hangzhou Spark, Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, and Shanghai Dragons all released statements on Monday condemning the comments made by Seoul Dynasty DPS player Jong-ryeol "Saebyeolbe" Park on a stream in April. All four Chinese teams are now officially committed to boycotting events that include Saebyeolbe. It is important to note, they are not boycotting events with Seoul Dynasty, only events where Saebyeolbe is involved.
Saebyeolbe drew the ire of the Chinese organizations by making comments about the lack of free speech on the Chinese streaming platform Douyu, saying that you can't make comments about the sovereignty of Hong Kong or Taiwan. In an on-stream discussion, he reportedly stated that he has to be a "good dog" and follow the Chinese government if he wants to make money on Douyu, and he followed up that comment by joking that he can even thank the fans in Chinese like a "good dog".
The remarks sparked outrage among the Overwatch Chinese fan base that eventually prompted a handwritten note from the player apologizing for the remarks. Even given the note, however, the Chinese OWL teams were not satisfied and will be going forward with their boycott.
Chinese Overwatch League teams boycott Seoul Dynasty player
Nearly three weeks after the initial incident, the Chinese Overwatch League teams spoke out on Monday.
"When I saw a player's wrong remarks for the first time, I was very shocked and angry," explained Shanghai Dragons General Manager Yang "Van" Van in a Weibo post on Monday. "Such remarks disregard of facts and international consensus revealed ignorance and offense. As a well-treated and loved public figure in China, he should understand his public position, assume his own social responsibilities, and focus on competitions, instead of arbitrarily making mistakes and challenging the sovereignty and unity of other countries."
Van continued, "From the first moment we saw these remarks, we reached an agreement to fully boycott any form of activities that this player participated in." The activities on their boycott list include all scrimmages, interviews, and competitive events.
Van also addressed the player's apology, saying, "although the player did release an apology afterward, I personally don't feel that this apology deserves to be recognized and accepted, so a full boycott of the player will continue!!!"
The other three Chinese orgs put out their own statements, also condemning Saebyeolbe's statements, and demanding that competitive esports be separated from international political discussions.
We reached out to Blizzard for comment on this matter, we will update you when we get a response.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.