A Taiwanese e-sports team was disqualified from an international tournament because they did not register to play in the “China” region.

The team, called SadStory, were competing against a Japanese team in the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2019 Asia Minor’s qualifiers. They had already beaten the Japanese side by 16:1 in the first leg of the East Asia region, before they were disqualified.

But the team’s leader Chang Sheng-lun, commonly known as CrazyFace, said on his Facebook page that his team was disqualified because of nationality issues, as they were told they had to register to play under the China region.

IEM Katowice 2019 Asia Minor – EA Open Qualifier…

Posted by Crazyface on Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Chang said his team had been playing in the East Asia, or South East Asia, tournament qualifiers for two years: “We never have had this problem before – not even a footnote saying in the rules that Taiwan has to register China qualifier.”

Chang said that, in the past they thought of playing in the China region, but the tournament for the region required Chinese passports: “The rule this time also said your country is of the passport that you own – the problem is, our passports are green Taiwan ones, not the red China ones,” he said.

Chang said they were disappointed by the result: “We cannot understand why we have to bear responsibility of the flaws on the organiser’s website.”

The qualifier saw the teams play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

‘United Nations list’

The issue sparked a debate among fans on the Reddit page of the game. The event’s organiser Electronic Sports League (ESL) replied and said that those who have a Taiwanese passport are eligible to play in the China region, and Taiwanese players are not banned from playing.

Chang Sheng-lun, also known as CrazyFace (third from right) with SadStory team. Photo: Facebook/crazyfacetw.

“Perhaps the confusing part is the name of the region (as opposed to country),” said ESL VP Pro Gaming’s Michal Blicharz. “China was put with Taiwan as one qualifying region for ping reasons (we have Hong Kong and Taiwan servers for China qualifiers).”

“There is the inevitable question that follows: why is Taiwan not listed as a country? For this rulebook ESL used the United Nations list of countries as a measure of determining countries and regions. Please note that I have no interest in discussing global politics. I am merely pointing out how we came up with the list of countries.”

The response sparked further criticism from users of the reddit page.

“ESL is a joke, just like your responses. DQ a team for political reasons and then telling everyone on reddit you’re not interested in talking about politics is a fucking joke,” one said.

“You mean Taiwanese are welcome to play as long as they identify themselves as Chinese. This is like telling Croatians that they are welcome as long as they identify themselves as Serbians,” another user said.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.