Blizzard Intervenes In Hong Kong Debate Between Overwatch League Players

Blizzard has patched relations between some of its Overwatch League teams, following a dispute stemming from one player’s comments on the One China policy.

On a stream, Seoul Dynasty player Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park vented his frustration over not being allowed to discuss Hong Kong and Taiwan independence while he’s in Overwatch league. He claims he was previously reprimanded by his team for just mentioning the countries by name.

In a fan translation, Park is quoted as saying: “I can’t call Taiwan, Taiwan. Taiwan is not a separate country. Hong Kong is also not a country. I can’t say that. I can’t say Taiwan and HK. At all. They don’t recognize them as countries. I got into so much trouble for saying their names.”

His disagreements with the rules continued, “So I was sad about that. Like, fuck, 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.”

Chinese teams Hangzhou Spark, Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, and Shanghai Dragons all formed a boycott of the player, refusing to participate in any games with him. Twitter user @gatamchun translated a statement from Shanghai Dragons, which put forward their demands: for all players to not challenge “China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, and for an overall ban on political discussions of any kind. While Park did apologize for his comments, the statement went on to say they did not accept this.

Finally, Blizzard intervened. After holding talks between the teams involved, all parties released statements confirming that matches would continue as normal. Nothing specific to Park’s remarks are mentioned in the statements, and it does not appear that he was punished by Blizzard.

This situation was similar to the PR disaster of 2019, in which Blizzard suspended a Hearthstone player and fired two casters, after the player spoke out in support of Hong Kong independence during a tournament. The severity of the punishment was eventually scaled back, with the player, Blitzchung, receiving his prize money and having his ban reduced from a year to six months.

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