Blizzard brokers agreement after Korean esports star sparks standoff over anti-China comments

2021.05.08

American game developer Blizzard Entertainment on Friday brokered a settlement between a South Korean esports player and Chinese athletes after he sparked a standoff in the middle of a tournament with controversial comments about Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“We uphold sportsmanship and will continue to provide exciting games to fans around the world. The teams have agreed to resume normal event operations,” the four competing Chinese teams said on Friday. It was understood that the incident had been resolved with Blizzard’s intervention.

The maelstrom was stirred up after Jongyeol “Saebyeolbe” Park, of South Korean esports team Seoul Dynasty, on April 13 described Hong Kong and Taiwan as independent countries during an esports livestream on the Twitch platform.

“I feel sad and my life without meaning. What are you talking about, one China? I don’t want to succumb,” he said. “But my manager said to me: ‘If you want to earn Chinese money, you must be the Chinese people’s dog.’”

Saebyeolbe’s remarks were soon picked up by other players and went viral.

Four mainland Chinese teams from the Overwatch League — Hangzhou Spark, Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge and Shanghai Dragons — defended the one-China principle, saying on social media they couldn’t allow people to question whether Hong Kong and Taiwan were part of China.

They threatened to refuse to take part in marketing activities and training sessions with the South Korean player, while Saebyeolbe had since been absent from the current season of the Overwatch League, which is held between April and August.

“Our team cares deeply about fans and the community, and we respect the various emotional voices derived from this incident,” Seoul Dynasty said in a statement on Friday, responding to the thaw in relations.

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