Former Overwatch pro “Silkthread” recently recounted how he was fined $1000 dollars by Blizzard for a tweet concerning Pepe the Frog.
On a July 23rd Twitch stream, Silkthread, whose name is Ted Wang, shared the original email he received when the incident took place in 2018.
The email details that during season one of the league, Silkthread tweeted, “Does anyone else love Pepe the frog?”
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It provoked a response shortly after. The social media manager for the Los Angeles Valiant, Wang’s Overwatch team, demanded he delete the tweet immediately.
Wang did delete the tweet, but not before the eyes of the Overwatch League caught it. He was fined $1,000 dollars for the post.
The email he received from the Overwatch League began, “This behavior is unacceptable. Your comments violate the spirit of diversity and inclusiveness that makes Overwatch great.”
It continued, “Comments like yours will not be tolerated by anyone associated with the Overwatch League. Your conduct also violates the letter and spirit of the Overwatch League’s Official Rules and your Overwatch League Player Professional Services Agreement.”
The email then informed him he was being fined $1000, “Accordingly, the League Office has determined to impose a $1,000 fine for posting support for a racist meme.”
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“Your Team will be directed to withhold the amount of your fine from your salary until fully paid. This discipline is without prejudice to any other discipline or remedies that the Team may have as your employer,” the email stated.
He was able to appeal the fine, citing that he was unaware of the cartoon frog being interpreted as a “hate symbol.”
According to Wang, he even paid a $60 Uber to go to Burbank just to dispute the fine.
He explained, “If you guys want to know what happened, I ended up paying like a $60 Uber to get to Burbank and I disputed the fine. And the dispute worked and I didn’t get fined. And that’s the story guys.”
After telling viewers the interesting anecdote, Silkthread would have a moment of hindsight.
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“Thinking back, it probably would have been smarter to take the fine,” he said. “It would be pretty f***ing cool to be ‘legacized’ as the person that got fined for tweeting about Pepe the Frog. That would be pretty epic.”
It’s unclear if this rule is still in effect. Back in March 2018, an Overwatch League spokesperson told Dot Esports, “The Overwatch League discourages the use of symbols and imagery which are associated with or used by hate groups, including Pepe the Frog.”
They added, “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.”
At the time a number of players deleted their Pepe the Frog memes that they had posted to Twitter.
Jay “sinatraa” Won indicated he deleted a Pepe the Frog birthday meme.
Esports reporter Rod Breslau reported New York Excelsior DPS Kim “Pine” Do-hyeon deleted a photo of his phone case that featured Pepe the Frog.
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It’s unclear if the Pepe the Frog ban is still in effect. Dallas Fuel player Dylan ‘akm’ Bignet did post a Pepe the Frog birthday meme back in December.
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While it’s unclear what Blizzard and the Overwatch League’s current policy on Pepe the Frog is, they did begin enforcing a ban on using the “okay” symbol last year.
What do you make of the Overwatch League trying to fine Silkthread for a Pepe the Frog meme?