Chinese Overwatch Teams Boycott Starts Over Political Comments
Due to comments made by Seoul Dynasty’s Saebyeolbe, the Overwatch Chinese teams have begun to boycott anything to do with this player. Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Shanghai Dragons and the Hangzhou Spark have all allegedly agreed to this boycott. This all boils down to free speech and comments made by Saebyeolbe during their recent live stream. The discussion was the unification of China and free speech on Chinese streaming platforms. Apparently, this did not go down too well.
An Apology, But Was It Too Late?
This could certainly do some damage to the Overwatch League just in general, with the Chinese teams boycotting Saebyeolbe. In particular, it could harm the career of the main DPS of the Seoul Dynasty. According to a post on Weibo, the Chinese Overwatch teams will boycott everything to do with Saebyeolbe, but not the Seoul Dynasty itself. That link is to a Reddit post with all the separate Weibo links for easy finding. This includes scrims, commercial activities, and interviews.
In order for the Seoul Dynasty to work with these teams, they will likely have to bench/replace Saebyeolbe. Worst case, they might have to let him go. In the Weibo post, the Chinese teams do acknowledge that Saebyeolbe posted a hand-written apology on Instagram, but to the Chinese teams, it is not sincere enough.
Saebyeolbe had this to say on Instagram:
“I want to apologize again for the inappropriate remarks made in my personal live broadcast, so I wrote this letter of apology. Although it has not been long since I started live broadcasting in China, I have been working hard to learn Chinese during this period so that I can actively communicate with Chinese fans who love me. I understand that what I said at that moment hurt the hearts of many fans. At the same time, I also know that getting forgiveness from everyone is never easy. I will keep this lesson in mind and strive to become a professional player who can be responsible for my words and deeds in the future.”
As of this time, Blizzard has not responded to the boycott by the Overwatch Chinese teams. The apology, in this writer’s opinion, feels sincere. The problem is not understanding your audience. Talk about free speech on Chinese platforms seldom goes well. While there are people who may have even agreed with what Saebyeolbe said during the stream, it wouldn’t have served anyone well to speak up. The governing body should probably speak up about this sooner rather than later, rather than allow a very dangerous precedent to be set. This would allow teams or regions to boycott other specific players rather than have to deal with them in-game, thanks to political ideology. We will definitely have to keep an eye on this story as it develops.