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Published: May 4, 2021

Written by: Edward Pearcey

  • Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park becomes a pariah in the Overwatch League as Chinese teams vow to boycott events featuring the player
  •  Saebyeolbe reportedly criticized Chinese streaming platforms for “lack of freedom of speech” in matters pertaining to Hong Kong and Taiwan
  • Chinese Overwatch teams have confirmed that they are willing to play with Seoul Dynasty but without Saebyeolbe present

Tampers in the Overwatch League (OWL) have gotten a little frayed following the comments of a Seoul Dynasty player who accused Chinese streaming platforms of lacking freedom of speech.

Chinese Overwatch Team Boycott Seoul Dynasty Player

South Korean Overwatch player Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park is in hot water over comments he made during a live stream on Douyu, lamenting as what he described the lack of freedom of speech on streaming platforms.

His comments were immediately met with stern disapproval from the Chinese Overwatch community, prompting some of the biggest competitive names, including Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Shanghai Dragons, and Hangzhou Spark to publicly state that they would boycott any event of which Saebyeolbe is a part.

The case, which dates to early April, led to the player posting a hand-written apology on his Instagram account and apologizing to the community and the people he had offended with his words and actions.

Seoul Dynasty and Activision/Blizzard Yet to Comment

Saebyeolbe’s comments were placed in the context of growing tensions between Hong Kong and China over the perceived lack of freedom in the country, and the general gung-ho approach the mainland has had towards Taiwan, which has refused to cave into Beijing’s demands to accept Chinese rule.

Political right and wrong aside, Overwatch League teams promptly responded by their determination to avoid any event that includes the player, as shared via a Weibo update.

The teams do not mind participating in events featuring Seoul Dynasty, the team Saebyeolbe is a part of, but they won’t participate if Saebyeolbe is on the active player roster or in attendance.

There are at least several scenarios which the teams would avoid, and they include scrims, official matches and interviews for starters. Activision/Blizzard has made no official comment on the situation, and neither has the team.

China remains a valuable and important market for the company and Bilibili has recently secured exclusive broadcasting rights for the Overwatch League in the country. The issue may appear bizarre to outsiders, but there is context to it that we may or may not understand.

In a similar case from another game, TNC Predator star Carlo “Kuku” Palad made a disparaging comment about Chinese ethnicity which ended up with him booted from a major event, but later things returned to normal.

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