Several people hit Florida Mayhem‘s Jung-woo “Sayaplayer” Ha with tomatoes in a restaurant, according to a tweet from the player earlier this week. This comes after months of major concerns being raised over the mental health of many in the Overwatch League and some players even resigning.
Sayaplayer: I went to eat lunch at a restaurant but a few people didn't seem to like our group; they threw tomatoes at us -_- I should have fed them the tomatoes that fell on the floor 🙁
WHO DID THIS I'M SO MAD https://t.co/2SkezjsbKc
— 스윙칩 (Swingchip) (@swingchip930) June 3, 2019
While we don’t know the motives of the people involved, members of the community have speculated that it may have been racially motivated. Others believe it could have been upset Mayhem fans.
Following Sayaplayer’s tweet, many showed sympathy for him and anger at the perpetrators. Teammates, rivals, and fans alike came out to show their support:
lemme at em 😡 hope you're ok saya
— Caleb McGarvey (@McGravy) June 4, 2019
When will racism end, this shit is so god damn unacceptable. If we can get anything from this situation, be EXTRA considerate and give some hospitality to the KR players in our league. You are my brother @minon501, next time this shit happens to you let me know and I'll come asap https://t.co/MdyqMtfnrR
— ԌѺѺԀ ѣѺү (@DogmanOW) June 4, 2019
A greater issue
Sayaplayer and many others in the League are South Korean. In the past, some have expressed difficulty in settling down and adapting to life in America. This isn’t the first time Korean Overwatch League players have faced abuse for their race. In January of this year, an incident where several Seoul Dynasty players were yelled at with a racist insult commonly used against East Asians was reported by a senior member of the org.
The community quickly came out in support for the Dynasty. However, we can only wait to see what steps, if any, Blizzard can take to prevent such events in the future. Many teams already offer their players English and Korean lessons, recreational activities, and visits back to their home cities.
Blizzard has a zero-tolerance policy on racism. A huge number of players have received penalties due to past conduct. Pros EQO and xQc found out all too well with their suspensions last year. We reached out to Blizzard for comment but are yet to get a response.
For more Overwatch news, see our article on the alternate Overwatch League jersey designs, or Fusion University’s switch to Korean Contenders. And make sure to stay with Daily Esports for more news going forward.