Yesterday, we covered a brewing mess over in the Overwatch fandom, as a South Korean pro esports player, Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park, commented on his Twitch livestream that he was feeling censored when streaming for Chinese audiences, as his managers had told him he was not to discuss Taiwanese and Hong Kong independence, that he essentially needed to go along with censorship and “become a Chinese dog” to make money in the region. Chinese pro players flipped tables, effectively proving Park’s point: They rejected his eventual apology and announced a boycott of any OWL events where Park was present. As the Shanghai Dragons manager put it, Park should “assume his own social responsibilities, focus on competition instead of arbitrarily making bad statements that challenge the sovereignty of other countries.” In other words, he should stick to gaming, but they don’t have to. (Thank goodness he stopped some kid from “challenging the sovereignty” of the biggest country on earth on Twitch – imagine the damage he could’ve done!)
Blizzard, perhaps having learned its lesson from its self-inflicted Blitchung fiasco a year and a half ago, hasn’t said a single peep in public, and as we noted yesterday, western players particularly on Reddit have been broadly supportive of Park. But it sounds as if the organization has been working overtime behind the scenes, as now the boycott is over; according to the Hangzhou Spark, it took the “active involvement of the Overwatch League,” which of course has no interest in losing more money or fomenting another international crisis.
— Hangzhou Spark (@Hangzhou_Spark) May 6, 2021