Within days of blacklisting Overwatch League pro Saebyeolbe, the OWL’s Chinese teams have officially agreed to end the boycott and resume normal activities following the pro’s controversial comments.
On May 3, the OWL’s four Chinese teams elected to blacklist Seoul Dynasty DPS Jong-ryeol ‘Saebyeolbe’ Park from all interactions (including scrimmages and matches). This followed exposure of controversial comments the veteran star made about Chinese censorship.
Now, a few days later, the league has agreed to end that impromptu boycott and will be resuming all competitive activities. This follows internal discussions between the league’s teams and a handwritten apology from Saebyeolbe himself.
On May 6, each of the OWL’s four Chinese teams — the Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, and Shanghai Dragons — posted statements on social media regarding the situation.
— Shanghai Dragons (@ShanghaiDragons) May 6, 2021
Each team posted the exact same statement, as shown above in the Shanghai Dragons’ tweet. The announcement begins with a nod to the divisive discourse that bubbled up in the wake of the boycott: “Our team is very concerned about the voices from our community and among our fans, and we respect the many emotions that have risen due to the team’s viewpoints.”
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Following “many rounds of discussion,” the teams have consequently decided to “resume normal activities with each other based on mutual respect and unity.”
As a guiding principle, this decision is claimed to have been made in order to guarantee “the best competitive matches for our fans.”
— Seoul Dynasty 🐯 (@SeoulDynasty) May 6, 2021
Saebyeolbe’s Seoul organization also posted a statement regarding the recent situation and eventual conclusion. The team made community acknowledgment a point of emphasis: “We respect there are many emotions as a result of the recent issues.”
The Korean team also maintained that the decision to resume all interactions is “in the spirit of fostering healing, better understanding of one another, and delivering great competition for our fans around the world.”
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The Overwatch League has a very diverse player pool, with four Chinese teams, one Korean team, two European teams, and 13 North American teams — making international cohesion an important factor. While Saebyeolbe’s comments about the “One China” policy remain a sore point among some fans, the majority seem to be glad the league is moving forward and resuming full activity.