The Chengdu Hunters, Shanghai Dragons, Guangzhou Charge and Hangzhou Spark, the Overwatch League’s four Chinese teams, announced a boycott of Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-ryeol, the hitscan DPS player for the Seoul Dynasty, after he spoke about China, Taiwan and Hong Kong on his Twitch stream. Management from each team have put out statements on Weibo saying they will not play or scrimmage against Saebyeolbe.
Saebyeolbe was streaming on DouYu, a Chinese live streaming service, in early April when he mentioned both Hong Kong and Taiwan inconspicuously. In a Twitch stream on April 12, he said he was reprimanded for the comments by Seoul Dynasty staff.
“What can you do,” he said. “If you want to make money in China, you have to become their dog.”
Chinese Overwatch community erupted after incident
The comment quickly spread throughout the Chinese Overwatch community, with fans posting heated comments in response on Twitter and Weibo. Saebyeolbe issued an apology in an Instagram post on April 14.
“I would like to once again apologize for the distasteful remarks I made during my stream,” he wrote on a piece of paper. “I realize that I have hurt a lot of people with my sudden and impulsive remark, and I’m fully aware that my actions can’t be excused in any way. I fully accept your critical comments, and I will become a player who’s more responsible for his words and actions.”
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The rest of Saebyeolbe’s scheduled April DouYu streams were cancelled in the lead up to the beginning of the Overwatch League. On May 3, a day after Seoul lost to the Chengdu Hunters, Hunters vice manager Yiheng “Luke” Qin posted that his team would be boycotting all activities involving Seoul. The other Chinese teams followed soon after. No teams, except for the the Guangzhou Charge, shared the statements on the team’s official pages.
“The only thing we can do is point out the false information in your remarks and convey our position as a Chinese team,” Luke said in a translated statement. “At the same time, I’ll formally tell everyone that we will boycott all competitions and activities of any kind that the player Saebyeolbe will participate in.”
Luke began his statement by talking about the “generally acknowledged international consensus” that Earth only has one China and that Taiwan and Hong Kong are both “inseparable parts” of it. Saebyeolbe has said he disagrees with the One-China policy, a policy recognizing that there is only one sovereign state under the name China.
Statements from managers of the Shanghai Dragons, Hangzhou Spark and Guangzhou Charge were similar.
“I don’t want to say anything nice, I just want to say that there’s no room for discussion for what Saebyeolbe did. It’s just unacceptable,” said Hangzhou Spark supervisor Huang “Xiaogui” Tsung-Yu in a translated statement. “I absolutely do not believe that there’s a gray area or lack of information in this matter, so I don’t think there’s a need to add any additional thoughts.”
Upcomer has reached out to both the Overwatch League and the Seoul Dynasty for further comment. This story will be updated as it develops. Complete translations from all four managers are included below:
Chengdu Hunters, Hunters vice manager Yiheng “Luke” Qin
As a person who has studied, worked and lived in the US for more than ten years, I can’t help but reminisce about the people and events that I encountered in those years.
From 15 years old to 29 years old, I made a lot of Korean friends. Whether they were classmates in my teens, or colleagues from my work, or even roommates who I was so close to that I could stay up all night talking with them, as well as friends who we would visit each other’s cities, we’d speak our minds, from academic topics to games, to political affairs and international relations, to life and family feelings, etc., we were happy with each other. But the prerequisite for this is, undoubtedly, the mutual respect of both parties. All my Korean friends understand the most fundamental and generally acknowledged international consensus — that is, that this earth only has one China. Taiwan and Hong Kong are both inseparable parts of China.
While growing up, I also encountered bad things, such as discrimination against Asians, hostility towards socialism, extreme hegemonism, etc. But fortunately, there were people who taught me by my side. Regardless of they were white teachers, black teachers, or Asian teachers, they all stood up and said ”no” to these kinds of words and actions. What’s more, they firmly disciplined and educated the parties concerned, preventing that sort of incident from happening again.
Nevertheless, we will still welcome all international friends who understand mutual respect with open arms, whether it’s players, coaches, or business partners who are joining the Chengdu Hunters.
I’ve kept thinking for the past couple days that, the reason why professional players are professional players is because — beyond their understanding of how to display their own abilities — they, more importantly, understand mutual respect. They understand how to communicate, converse and cooperate with other people. These are the absolute prerequisites to being a professional player. How can there be such a saying that one must be a dog (lackey) in order to make money?
As for the player in this controversy, Saebyeolbe, I would like to say that, we don’t have the right to discipline you, and we also don’t have an obligation to further educate you. Because as the GM of Chengdu Hunters, I can only control my own players, coaches and staff members. I can also only offer some of my own life experiences and suggestions to our players. The only thing we can do is point out the false information in your remarks, and convey our position as a Chinese team. At the same time, I’ll formally tell everyone that, we will boycott all competitions and activities of any kind that the player Saebyeolbe will participate in.
In a globalized environment, we are, at the same time, also in a globalized league. Each one of us must pay even more attention to increasing our level of self-cultivation and character, just like the diplomatic relations between countries.
As a professional player, Saebyeolbe should focus on the competition itself and set his heart on the glory of the team; as an idol and role model for the fans, he should bring people happiness, joy and positive energy; as a public figure, he should respect historical facts and face up to international consensus.
All the words above come from my heart, I’ve done what I can with what I have.
Shanghai Dragons general manager Yang Van
Since Luke has already talked about this, I’d also like to briefly talk about my views on this matter, as well as all the measures I can take to the best of my ability.
It’s the fourth competitive season this year. The team spent the first two seasons in Los Angeles, and then trained in South Korea for another year due to the pandemic. During this period of time, we received so much help and support from an abundance of foreign fans, staff, friends and even some strangers; among the foreign friends I met, almost all of them were friendly and kind, brimming with curiosity and respect for China. Thanks to their help, we slowly awoke from the gloomy days in 2018-2019, the more we changed the better we became. All of this made me feel very good.
Of course, this doesn’t exclude the existence of certain people. When I saw this certain player’s wrong remarks for the first time, I was very shocked and angry. This kind of speech—disregarding facts and international consensus—revealed ignorance and offensiveness. As a public figure who is highly favored and loved in China, he should realize his own public position, bear his social responsibility, and prioritize competing, focus on the competition, instead of recklessly delivering wrongful, disgusting remarks that challenge the sovereignty and unity of other countries.
From the moment we saw these remarks, we reached an unanimous agreement to completely boycott any form of activities involving this player (including scrims [he mustn’t be allowed inside the practice room], participation in commercial activities, media interviews, etc.); Afterwards, we immediately gathered everyone for an internal meeting and reached a consensus with all the players, coaches as well as the staff members based on the following two points, which they all were very much in agreement with:
- China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be separated. This is the most basic bottom line for all our activities and collaborations. All members must recognize and acknowledge this point
- Competitive sports should be purely about competition, and should not be used to declare political positions. So that is why I hope everyone won’t post political views of any country on any platform.
In addition, although the player issued an apology afterwards, I personally think that this apology is unworthy of recognition and acceptance, so the complete boycott of the player will still continue!!!
Last of the lastly, no matter the players or teams, I hope that since everyone loves this game, loves this league, then everyone should set a good example, respect each other, improve together, do more things that will make the entire ecosystem better, and work hard together to construct the destiny of the Overwatch ecosystem and its community.
Guangzhou Charge general manager Mandara
Hello everyone, I am the manager of Guangzhou Charge, Mandara.
Since the establishment of the team Guangzhou Charge, the players, the coaching staff, the staff members, have all been composed of people from China, South Korea, the US, the UK, Canada, Spain, and many more countries. In such an international team, we have always adhered to and worked together on the principle of mutual respect and seeking common ground. We have always gotten along like a family, learning from each other’s cultures and knowledge of each other’s countries.
When I was young, I came to China to go to school. Living in Hong Kong became the most profound part of my childhood memories, I personally even experienced the official return of Hong Kong to China on July 1st, 1997.
After I heard of Saebyeolbe’s words and actions, I was shocked. Such words and deeds which violate international consensus and lack the most basic respect for a country and nation cannot be tolerated.
Team Guangzhou Charge will not participate in any activities involving Saebeyolbe. This includes league activities, brand activities, commercial activities, media activities, exhibition matches as well as daily scrims, etc.
Here, I would once again like to call on all those who work in and the professional players of Overwatch esports. In this globalized Overwatch esports community, we come in contact with people from different countries and nations working in Overwatch and loving Overwatch, and we must maintain the most basic level of respect. This big Overwatch League family can only develop healthily if built on the foundation of mutual respect.
Hangzhou Spark supervisor Huang “Xiaogui” Tsung-Yu
I’ve always wanted to express some of my views on the issue of Saebyeolbe. But one reason I didn’t is because reorganizing the team a while ago consumed all my mental energy, and another reason is because I wasn’t sure if I could speak for myself, and whether that would cause unexpected trouble for anyone.
Taking advantage of this opportunity today, I want to honestly state my views on this matter.
I don’t want to say anything nice, I just want to say that there’s no room for discussion for what Saebyeolbe did. It’s just unacceptable.
I absolutely do not believe that there’s a gray area or lack of information in this matter, so I don’t think there’s a need to add any additional thoughts.
Using self-deprecation as a way to imply negative views of my people is unacceptable.
Mixing biased political views into the field of professional esports and even spreading them around is unacceptable.
I have many close Korean friends who I’ve known for several years, but I have never seen someone tear apart everyone’s feelings like this, let alone from a professional player in an international competition.
I also want to say to everyone that, I believe people like this stand out in particular no matter where they are, but we cannot believe that they are the vast majority, and tar everyone with the same brush. There are also a lot of people who saw Saebyeolbe’s actions and felt they were unacceptable. There has always been a lot of people who are friendly, respectful and willing to help others, and these are the people who have been the vast majority in my experience, these are the people who work hard with us to make the world a better place. But this does not include Saebyeolbe, whose current actions and apology are hard to accept, and those lacking common sense who still support him.
I, personally, along with team Hangzhou Spark, will also completely boycott any form of activities involving the player Saebyeolbe.