Former Overwatch League pro Brandon ‘Seagull’ Larned uncovered the reason Pepe was banned from the Overwatch League during Season One while talking to fellow retired pro Ted ‘Silkthread’ Wang.
All depictions of and references to Pepe the Frog were banned from Overwatch League during Season One, which meant no Pepe memes in the League’s Twitch chat and no Pepe signs at Blizzard Arena, along with a ton of other restrictions.
“The Overwatch League discourages the use of symbols and imagery which are associated with or used by hate groups, including Pepe the Frog,” an Overwatch League spokesperson said in a statement in March of 2018. “At Blizzard Arena, it’s our policy that fans comply with this policy. We likewise ask the same of Overwatch League teams and players on their social-media accounts.”
Was Silkthread the reason Pepe got banned?
During the first ever Overwatch League Homestand Weekend, Seagull talked with Silkthread on stream about a number of things, including the infamous Pepe ban and Silkthread had quite the story to share.
Silkthread, who retired from the Los Angeles Gladiators in December of 2018, said he was looking to “up his Twitter game” when he inadvertently began the chain of events that led to Pepe getting banned.
“I needed content to tweet, so I was thinking of something to tweet for really long,” Wang explained. “I eventually was like ‘oh I’ll Tweet: Does anyone else love Pepe the Frog?’ That’s the entirety of my tweet.”
After the tweet, Silkthread said he got contacted by a member of the Valiant staff and was told to take the tweet down, but that would only be the beginning.
A few weeks after being lectured by Valiant staff about proper Pepe usage on social media and Twitch, Silkthread was fined $1000 for account sharing and another $1000 for the “Does anyone else love Pepe the Frog?” tweet.
Along with Valiant staff, Silkthread went to Blizzard HQ to dispute the fine and clear his name over his now-deleted Pepe tweet.
$1000 for tweeting about a cartoon frog
“I was like, obviously I’m not racist and I’m not trying to like, start anything by tweeting about Pepe the Frog.” Silkthread told Seagull. “So I had to take un Uber all the way to Burbank, go into a room and dispute basically saying ‘I did not know Pepe the Frog was a racist hate symbol and I do not condone using Pepe the Frog.'”
Luckily, Silkthread said he was able to get the $1000 fine for his tweet lifted, “yeah, I was going to get fined $1000 for that tweet, and it kinda got Pepe banned from OWL.”
This season the Overwatch League banned the “OK” hand sign from the Blizzard Arena because of its perceived hate group connotation after a fan complained on Twitter.
There have been plenty of theories about why exactly Pepe was banned from the Overwatch League, and more than a year later we may finally have our answer.