Chinese Overwatch League teams come to an agreement, will no longer boycott Saebyeolbe or Seoul Dynasty

After a heated battle over the player’s comments about freedom of speech in China, the teams will “resume normal activities with one another.”

Photo by Robert Paul via Blizzard Entertainment

Four Chinese Overwatch League teams have come to a resolution regarding a potential boycott of all activities involving Seoul Dynasty DPS Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong Ryeol, according to statements from the league itself and individual teams. 

Earlier this week, staff members from the Shanghai Dragons, Guangzhou Charge, Chengdu Hunters, and Hangzhou Spark posted messages on Weibo threatening a full boycott of all activities involving Saebyeolbe due to his political comments about China on a stream. These activities included scrimmages, exhibition matches, and league content like commercials.

But now, the teams have come to an agreement and will no longer be boycotting the player, according to a statement provided by an Overwatch League spokesperson.  

“The Overwatch League is a global community, one made stronger by the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of our players and fans,” the spokesperson said. “We have discussed this matter with all teams involved and the learnings that have come from it. In the spirit of sportsmanship and continuing to deliver amazing competition for our fans around the world, the teams have agreed to resume normal activities with one another.”  

All of the individual Chinese teams involved, as well as the Seoul Dynasty, have posted statements about the potential boycott. Each Chinese team posted what appears to be the exact same statement. 

Teams went through “many rounds of discussion” and agreed to provide “the best competitive matches for fans,” according to the statement. The teams again said they’ll resume normal activities based on “mutual respect and unity.” 

The Seoul Dynasty’s statement included the reasons of “fostering healing” and “better understanding of one another” as to why teams will be going back to their usual activities. 

A few weeks ago, Saebyeolbe made comments on his stream about freedom of speech in China and objected to the “One China” policy, which claims that Taiwan and Hong Kong are “inalienable” parts of China and not independent countries. The veteran DPS also said managers told him if players “wanted to earn Chinese money, you have to become a Chinese dog.” 

Following this incident, Saebyeolbe posted an apology to Instagram. Two weeks later, management staff, including Yang Van of the Shanghai Dragons, posted on Weibo about the boycott and said Saebyeolbe’s apology was not sufficient. Others, like Chengdu Hunters’ manager Yiheng “Luke” Qin, said professional players should not mix politics into their performances.

While proper Overwatch League matches were never on the line, a potential scrim boycott of the Seoul Dynasty would have been devastating to the team. As a part of the East region, which only includes eight teams, scrim partners are hard to find as it is. The Chinese teams’ boycotts would have also likely extended to Overwatch Contenders academy teams, eliminating nearly all of the Dynasty’s scrim options.