Chinese Overwatch Teams Threaten Boycott Of Korean Player For Statements On Taiwan And Hong Kong [Update: Teams ‘Resume Normal Activities’]

Chinese Overwatch Teams Threaten Boycott Of Korean Player For Statements On Taiwan And Hong Kong [Update: Teams ‘Resume Normal Activities’]

One of the most beloved players in the Overwatch League is facing backlash over political comments he made in a stream. On Chinese social media site Weibo, several members of the Chinese Overwatch League teams stated they would boycott any events that include Korean player Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park due to his apparent stance on Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Update: Seoul Dynasty and the four Chinese teams released statements today saying they will “resume normal activities.” Those statements have been included at the end of this post. Original story follows.

On April 12, Park — a DPS player for the Seoul Dynasty — commented on Twitch about his experiences streaming on Doyou, a Chinese streaming platform. In the Twitch stream, Park said he had a hard time streaming for a Chinese audience because he felt his managers restricted what he could say on Doyou.

“I can’t say Taiwan and [Hong Kong]. At all. They [China] don’t recognise them as countries. I got into so much trouble for saying their names,” Park said in the video, which was translated into English by Overwatch League community translator Gatamchun.

“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,’” Park added. “So that’s what I’m doing right now. I can even say, ‘Thanks for subscribing’ in Chinese. Aren’t I good at Chinese?”

The original Doyou stream mentioning Hong Kong and Taiwan that Park referenced on Twitch can no longer be found on the internet. Park’s Twitch page no longer features any past broadcasts, including the one from which the above clip was taken, and the last time he was live appears to be April 12 — the same day as the Twitch stream in which he mentioned his problems streaming on Doyou. The stream and clips of this incident look to be deleted from Twitch but can still be viewed in the tweet thread above.

Park (far left) celebrates with his team after winning the Overwatch League Stage Three Championship tournament. (Photo: Blizzard Entertainment) Park (far left) celebrates with his team after winning the Overwatch League Stage Three Championship tournament. (Photo: Blizzard Entertainment)

On April 14, two days after the Twitch stream, Park posted a handwritten note on Instagram (also translated by Gatamchun) apologizing for his comments without getting into specifics about the actions prompting the apology.

“I wanted to write once again to apologise for my inappropriate words on stream,” Park wrote. “I will accept all the comments from people and become a player who takes responsibility for their words. Sorry once again for disappointing fans.”

Park’s comments prompted backlash within the Overwatch League: On Tuesday, nearly three weeks after the comments and apologies were made, some members of the four Chinese Overwatch League teams — the Shanghai Dragons, Chengdu Hunters, Hangzhou Spark, and Guangzhou Charge — posted various statements on Chinese social media platform Weibo condemning Park’s words. Some of these posters also said they would not participate in any Overwatch League event in which Park would be present.

Kotaku viewed these statements on Weibo and translated the text with the help of Chinese language speakers.

Yang Van, general manager of the Shanghai Dragons, posted a lengthy statement on Weibo in which he reaffirmed the tenets of the One China policy — the political idea that Taiwan is not its own nation but instead an indivisible part of China — and that, “Competitive sports should remain pure sports and shouldn’t be used to announce a political position.”

Van continued that Park’s apology was insufficient, writing, “Although the player posted an apology after the incident, I personally do not feel that this apology is worth recognising or accepting, so this total boycott of the player will continue.”

Park at the Overwatch League New York Homestand in early 2020. (Photo: Blizzard Entertainment) Park at the Overwatch League New York Homestand in early 2020. (Photo: Blizzard Entertainment)

Another statement came from Guangzhou Charge general manager M4nD4R4 who wrote, “Guangzhou Charge will henceforth not participate in any activities that [Park] participates in, including league activities, brand activities, commercial activities, media activities, exhibition games and scrims.”

Though made on M4nD4R4’s personal Weibo account, the post was also shared by the Guangzhou Charge’s official Weibo account.

Huang “Xioagui” Tsung-Yu, who is listed as a supervisor on the Hangzhou Spark’s Liquipedia page, stated that the Spark will similarly boycott any activity if Park is also present.

A staff member from the Chengdu Hunters also posted a statement saying the team would boycott Park. According to screenshots of the statement and its translation posted by Gatamchun on Twitter, Yiheng “Luke” Qin, manager of the Hunters, wrote, “We are going to resist all competitions and events of any form in which Park will participate.”

From the posts, it seems the teams are only protesting Park and not the Seoul Dynasty as a whole. Of the four Chinese teams, the Seoul Dynasty has only played two since League play began on April 16, and Park did not participate in either match. Park’s comments and apology both took place days before the League’s opening day, and Park, considered by many a premier player, has not yet played in an official match against any team, even when the heroes he’s known for playing have been used in team compositions. Though this is not in itself unusual, it is unclear if the Dynasty has already taken action, avoiding a boycott by benching Park. How the teams whose members criticised Park will enact their boycott should Park play remains to be seen.

Kotaku reached out to Park’s team, Seoul Dynasty, and the Overwatch League for comment but did not receive a reply in time for publication. At the time of publication, the Overwatch League has not made an official statement regarding the matter. Kotaku also reached out to the four Chinese teams and the Los Angeles Valiant — a North American-owned team that operates out of China with Chinese staff and players.

It will be interesting to see if Park receives any formal censure or discipline from the League, especially after Blizzard received a great deal of backlash in 2019 when it punished and then rescinded the punishment of Hearthstone player Blitzchung for his pro-Hong Kong statements.

Though Chengdu, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Shanghai are Chinese teams, the majority of players on these teams, with the exception of Chengdu, are Korean. As of today, no Korean player — on a Chinese team or otherwise — has publicly commented.

Update 7/5: Seoul Dynasty posted a statement on Twitter today, writing, “Our team cares deeply about our fans and our community. We respect there are many emotions as a result of the recent issues. In the spirit of fostering healing, better understanding of one another, and delivering great competition for our fans around the world, all teams will be resuming normal activities and we look forward to making you proud in our next match.”

https://twitter.com/SeoulDynasty/status/1390381930206547969

The Shanghai DragonsChengdu HuntersHangzhou Spark, and Guangzhou Charge all posted identical statements on their own Twitter accounts, stating that “Through the active involvement of the Overwatch League, and with collaboration from the teams involved, we recently had many rounds of discussion and have finally reached an agreement on this incident… We will resume normal activities with each other based on mutual respect and unity, and we look forward to making our fans proud in the upcoming tournaments.”

Comments

  • ‘If you want to earn Chinese money, you have to become a Chinese dog,’

    Urgh. No. I’m sorry one country cannot be allowed to dictate how the rest of the world thinks no matter how politically inconvenient it is for them.

  • // “Competitive sports should remain pure sports and shouldn’t be used to announce a political position.” //
    They said, while using their position in the sport to clearly pushing a political position.

    Amazing really.

  • Great, let them boycott and more deserving teams can take their place and have a go at the prize money. If China wants to live in a bubble, they can stay in it far away from everyone else.

  • Maybe Western gamers should boycott tournaments where Chinese gamers who threaten to boycott tournaments play. Maybe these tournaments and companies have to pick a side which they want to be on: Team China or Team Free From Big Brother.

  • Let them boycott. If they want to support a communist dictatorship over human rights then fuck them.

    Id rather stand with Hong Kong and Taiwan than their hurt feelings.

    #TaiwanNumber1

  • I hope Park will be ready and have some support for a lot of organised harassment going his way there wont be much follow up or talk about it but he’s gonna be targetted hard and unfortunately this is nothing new. This kind of grass roots harassment at the mention of Taiwan and HK is still ongoing… it wasnt picked up much outside of a few outlets because vtubers are a niche but Akai Haato and Kiryu Coco posting google analytics showing Taiwan as a country (and yes they didnt say Taiwan was a country it was a cut and paste from their analytics) which led to some massive drama which is still affecting today.

    Cover literally closed their whole Cn branch, their talents are blacklisted from streaming any Cn games (hence their Ark Knights, Muse Dash streams are gone and no Genshin) and until today there are dedicated trolls who watch any mention or involvement of Coco and harass these streams with spam bits whether its Coco or a collab… or heck even someone who is acting like Coco – Suisei’s Apex stream was literally flooded by bots within seconds of her starting the stream… because she was mimicing Coco’s morning skit at the start.. And the trigger for this event was just after mid last year.. let that sink in.. its been months and organised harassment is still ongoing

    • China should be excluded from all these events inherently until their garbage fire government stops partaking in mass murder. Nothing of value is lost by them not attending since all of China’s money is fake at this rate thanks to the CCP’s pyramid scheme. It’d make life much easier for people going about their job without having to worry about the hypersensitive manbabies that come from the CCP or the harassment that comes with them.

  • Treasure these times people. 10 years from now the world will look very different. Unavoidable crash course.

  • Meanwhile Epic tries to take the moral high ground in its case against Apple…. while being used as a sock puppet by 10cent (China).

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