May 7, 2021 - Technology

Pro-Hong Kong comments stir drama in esports

Jong-Ryeol "Saebyeolbe" Park

Jong-Ryeol "Saebyeolbe" Park . Photo: Photo: Blizzard

Four Chinese teams that participate in the American-run Overwatch League are dropping their refusal to compete against a Korean player who made comments supportive of Hong Kong and Taiwan's independence.

What they're saying: "In the spirit of sportsmanship and continuing to deliver amazing competition for our fans around the world, the teams have agreed to resume normal activities with one another," the league said in a statement first reported by the Washington Post.

Between the lines: During a Twitch stream in April, Seoul Dynasty player Jong-Ryeol "Saebyeolbe" Park complained that streaming on a Chinese platform prevented him from describing Hong Kong and Taiwan as their own countries, as reported by Kotaku.

On Tuesday, four Chinese teams criticized Park's statements, rejecting an apology he'd made since then and vowing to boycott.

  • That planned boycott is no longer happening, according to the league.

Flashback: In 2019, Overwatch League parent company Blizzard suspended a competitive "Hearthstone" player who shouted, "Liberate Hong Kong" in a post-game interview.

  • The league stripped him of his prize money and suspended him for a year.
  • It later reduced his punishment, as it took criticism from an unlikely combination of politicians, including Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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