Following a huge rise in hate crimes targeting Asian communities in the US, South Korean Overwatch League pro Lee ‘Fearless’ Eui-seok has spoken out about the racism he and his teammates have endured.
Lee, who plays main tank for Dallas Fuel, moved to Texas with the rest of his team a few months ago, and has experienced some pretty traumatic stuff since he arrived.
“Being Asian here is terrifying, seriously,” Lee said during a Twitch stream earlier this week, according to a translation by Florida Mayhem manager Jade Kim. “People keep trying to pick fights with us… It’s really serious. I think Koreans living overseas should be careful.”
i dont know if i'm "stepping out of line" for translating something about what another team's player is experiencing— swingchip (@swingchip930) April 6, 2021
but here's the full translation of that Fearless clip.
please see some of what OWL players and staff are facing as Asians in America. pic.twitter.com/LZWvnRkuAx
“The racism here is no joke,” he said in the clip.
Lee also explained how strangers in the street will approach him, often without a mask, and “pretend to fucking cough” on him and his teammates.
“The racism here is unspeakable,” he said. “People keep harassing us. It’s been happening basically every day. It’s my first time ever experiencing racism, it’s pretty severe.”
Lee, who is 22, also said that he’s begun regularly wearing his Dallas Fuel team uniform as it appears to alleviate the abuse he receives: “If I have my jersey on, I think they realise we’re part of some kind of team, so they don’t bother us as much. But if I have my everyday clothes on, they run up to us, harass us then run away.”
Sadly, Lee explained that the racial abuse is relentless, and is happening on a daily basis for him and his teammates in Texas.
“People keep harassing us. It’s been happening basically every day,” he said. “And it’s always pretty severe.”
Following his speech, Dallas Fuel owner Mike Rufail took to social media to express his deep sadness.
“This is a great city in a proud state. This isn’t something we should be proud of at all and should all pitch in to change it,” he wrote on Twitter.
I am deeply saddened by the situations some of our @DallasFuel players have been put in while walking the streets here in Dallas, TX. This is a great city in a proud state. This isn't something we should be proud of at all and should all pitch in to change it. pic.twitter.com/Sq7MGlco50— Mike Rufail (@hastr0) April 6, 2021
Dallas Fuel assistant manager Helen “Dear” Jang also commented on the ordeal, condeming the racist behaviour and pointing out that Rufail has offered to accompany players in public if needed.
“He has emphasized that the players’ safety is our top priority since day 1. This org truly cares about the players,” she wrote.
“We cannot control how others behave, but there will be a solution to ensure that the players are protected. I just hope that this incident brings meaningful and positive changes to the community.”
Activision Blizzard, which operates the Overwatch League, responded in a statement late Tuesday. “At Activision Blizzard, we condemn racism in the strongest possible terms,” the statement read. “We stand with the Asian community, our employees, and our players and are working across our organization, including esports, to do our part to combat hate and ignorance.”
Kotaku has reached out to Blizzard and Dallas Fuel for comment.