UK Overwatch pro and Paris Eternal support player Harrison ‘Kruise’ Pond addressed the discrimination that his newest teammates from Korea have already experienced from a small percentage of fans.
Calling out fans for poor sportsmanship and bad behavior is tough enough as is, but it’s much harder when it’s your own supporters that you have to address.
After Paris Eternal’s latest signings, one of the season two expansion team’s longstanding players in Kruise took to Twitter to call out the fans being “racist or hateful” to Korean players that are joining Western teams. He added, “if you’re a true fan you wouldn’t hate on our teammates.”
If you’re going to be racist or hate on Koreans for being on a western team then you’re not someone I want associated with me as a fan or as anything, that’s horrible. If you’re a true fan you wouldn’t hate on our teammates.
— Kruise (@KruiseOW) October 26, 2019
Kruise followed this up by standing up for his new teammates, by pointing out that Overwatch League should be filled with the best players, and that “it doesn’t matter where they’re from or what language they speak.” He also took time to establish that the majority of the fans are supportive and kind, and thanked them for being so.
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Following a less than stellar first season for Paris Eternal where they went 11-17 and missed out Playoffs and the Play-in tournament, the Paris organization made big moves in the 2020 offseason. They dropped four of their international players from across Europe, opting to retain only their French players, Kruise, and Portuguese support player Luís ‘Greyy’ Perestrelo.
Then came the additions, in three all-star caliber acquisitions of Kim ‘Sp9rk1e' Yeong-han, Choi ‘Hanbin’ Han-been, and Jung ‘Xzi’ Ki-hyo from Element Mystic. All three acquisitions are young Korean talent that just came off of a championship performance at the biggest international Contenders event, The Gauntlet.
— Overwatch Path to Pro (@owpathtopro) October 13, 2019
With these announcements came complaints from some fans that both “European” teams in Eternal and the London Spitfire weren’t representing Europe with all their Korean additions.
The announcement tweets were met with replies claiming that the team would become boring and uninteresting because it was “just another team of Koreans.”
Infusing “Western” teams with Korean talent is by no means a new concept. Several successful franchises in North America like the Vancouver Titans and the NYXL run with entirely Korean rosters, and many others have a significant presence of Korean players as well. The same can even be said for the three of the four teams based in China.
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Because of the technology, infrastructure, and societal norms of Korea, the country is able to produce an insane amount of pro gaming talent, so for any Overwatch team that wants to compete, Korea is top priority on their scouting list. SF Shock injected their roster with Korean talent between seasons and won the season two championship.
If Paris Eternal wants to compete in playoffs, adding these players from Element Mystic is an excellent start, and if the fans don’t make them feel welcome, then support from their new teammates like Kruise will do. And he’s made it clear he doesn’t want those kind of fans supporting the team anyway.
Keep up with all the offeason moves on our Overwatch League offseason tracker.