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It looks like Pepe the Frog is no longer the only meme discouraged in the Blizzard Arena.
During a recent interview with Los Angeles Gladiators’ DPS Jang “Decay” Gui-un, a fan in the background of the broadcast raised his hand to form the universal “OK” hand gesture. And according to a tweet from Rod “Slasher” Breslau, Blizzard told this fan that the OK gesture is banned in the arena due to its association with white supremacy.
Throughout the season, fans in the Blizzard Arena have made the OK gesture before—but just now it has become widely apparent that the gesture is banned. While the OK gesture is mostly associated with meme culture, it has spread into white supremacy movements in the past. A campaign was launched called “Operation O-KKK” from a post on 4chan in 2017 that involved the gesture.
The movement was meant to make a connection between the OK emoji and the motives of white supremacists. Since the initial movement began in 2017, the emoji hasn’t been completely compromised by Operation O-KKK, but the underlying connotation still remains.
This isn’t the first time Blizzard has taken a stance against memes with the Overwatch League. Last year, Blizzard openly discouraged the use of Pepe the Frog among fans and OWL teams. An OWL spokesperson told Dot Esports last year, “The Overwatch League discourages the use of symbols and imagery which are associated with or used by hate groups, including Pepe the Frog…”
Blizzard has not yet responded to Dot Esports’ request for comment about the use of the OK gesture at the arena.