All four Chinese Overwatch League teams—the Chengdu Hunters, Shanghai Dragons, Guangzhou Charge, and Hangzhou Spark—have threatened to boycott Korean Seoul Dynasty DPS player Jong-ryeol "Saebyeolbe" Park over comments he made on Twitch concerning China's stance on Taiwan and Hong Kong.
This announcement comes three weeks after the source of the comments—a Twitch stream on April 12 in which Saebyeolbe described his experience hosting a stream on Doyou, an China-based streaming service. On stream, Saebyeolbe is quoted claiming to be put under certain speech restrictions by his managers while using the platform.
Chinese Overwatch League Teams Plan to Boycott Saebyeolbe
According to a clip of the stream translated by @gatamchun, Saebyeolbe said, "I can't call Taiwan, Taiwan...I can't say Taiwan and [Hong Kong] (HK). At all. They [China] don't recognize them as countries. I got into so much trouble for saying their names."
"I was sad about that." He went on, "Like, f***, 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.' So that's what I'm doing right now."
The original Doyou stream is no longer accessible online, according to Kotaku. Additionally, Saebyeolbe's Twitch profile is almost completely empty with no scheduled streams and no posted videos. His last live stream appears to be the aforementioned broadcast on April 12.
Two days after the incident, Saebyeolbe took to his Instagram page to publish an apology for his remarks—again, translated by @gatamchun.
He wrote, "I wanted to write once again to apologize for my inappropriate words on stream...I ended up hurting many [people] with a brief comment, and I know that just because it was brief does not make it forgivable. I will accept all the comments from people and become a player who takes responsibility for their words. Sorry once again for disappointing fans."
Unfortunately for him, his apology was not well-received by Chinese players and teams. On Tuesday, May 4, members of the Dragons, Charge, Hunters, and Spark came forward to voice their opinions on the Weibo, the popular Chinese social media platform.
Yang Van, Shanghai Dragons general manager, wrote, "When I first saw [Saebyeolbe's] wrong remarks, I was shocked and angry...[The Chinese OWL teams] reached an agreement to completely boycott any form of activity that this player participated in."
According to Van's statement, this includes practice matches and media events, among other things. Essentially, the Hunters, Dragons, Charge, and Spark, will not refuse to participate in any event where Saebyeolbe is on the confirmed roster. Van reaffirmed the Dragons' backing of the policy and disregarded Saebyeolbe's apology—calling it "not worthy of recognition and acceptance."
Van was joined by M4nD4R4, general manager of the Charge, and Yiheng “Luke” Qin, general manager of the Hunters. Huang "Xioagui" Tsung-Yu of the Spark also stepped up to affirm the statement, echoing Van that e-sports are no place for politics.
"It is unacceptable to mix a biased political stance into the field of professional e-sports," he wrote.
So far in the season, the boycott has yet to be called into play. The Dynasty has only faced off against the Charge and Hunters since the season's launch on April 16 and Saebyeolbe was noticeably absent from both matches. However, it's unclear whether or not this was planned intentionally to avoid ire or simply a team composition coincidence.
There have been no further statements at the time of writing regarding possible punishment against Saebyeolbe, the Dynasty, or otherwise. The league, itself, has not commented on the boycott.
Fans, however, are not as quiet. Some have adopted an image of the Dynasty's logo, the Tiger, with the words "I Stand With Saebyeolbe" as a form of support and protest for the player. How far this act has reacted has not yet been confirmed.