The Overwatch League has confirmed that it has banned the use of the “OK” sign at Blizzard Arena. The ban comes as the sign has become synonymous with White Supremacists, especially after it was used by the Christchurch shooter who is alleged to have killed 50 people at two Mosques in the city.
Some people argue that the “OK” sign is used as part of The Circle Game and that its association with White Supremacy is merely a troll by 4Chan. However, the fact that known and notable White Supremacists have taken to using the “OK” sign means it has moved beyond a troll and is now a symbol depicting hate.
The issue arose as fan Ty ‘SteelTrainer’ on Twitter was seen using the sign on stream and a complaint was lodged to the Overwatch League.
Overwatch League OK Sign Ban
I was the fan throwing up the 👌, and I want to apologize for not knowing the context behind it. The superfans have been using it for the old "gottem" game all season, but now that we know the context it is unacceptable.
Thank you for bringing this up. It will not happen again. https://t.co/kjHyUreV3i
— Ty (SteelTrainer) VGC (@SteelTrainer_) April 5, 2019
In response to the complaint, Ty ‘SteelTrainer’ tweeted the above statement, acknowledging the issue, but claiming they had been ignorant of the connotations when they’d used the sign.
It’s not the first time that the Overwatch League has banned the use of offensive memes or signs. In the first season, the League banned the use of Pepe the frog after it had become a sort of mascot for the Alt-Right. Pepe the frog was added to The Anti Defamation League’s database of hate symbols in 2016.
Regarding Pepe the frog, an Overwatch League spokesperson told Dot Esports at the time;
The Overwatch League discourages the use of symbols and imagery which are associated with or used by hate groups, including Pepe the Frog. 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.
According to a report by Kotaku in 2018, one fan had their Pepe the frog sign taken away from them during a game in the first season.
It seems that Blizzard and the Overwatch League are serious about preventing symbols of hate and speech from being used during Overwatch League games and within the Blizzard Arena.