Overwatch is adding a new Legendary skin for Mei in promotion of Overwatch League’s May Melee event. The skin is called MM-Mei, and it puts everyone’s favourite ice queen in MMA-inspired gear, complete with everything from bruises to a championship belt. The skin also puts Mei’s hair in cornrows, a style most often worn by Black people, and it’s reawoken a long-standing criticism of Overwatch’s efforts at diversity and inclusion.
The MM-Mei skin appears to be loosely based on Zhang Weili, a Chinese fighter who was the UFC Women’s Strawweight World Champion until just a few days ago. She – as with many other MMA fighters with long hair – typically fights wearing a similar sort of braid. But Overwatch’s long-criticised lack of Black women has become a sticking point, and for some players, Mei’s cornrow makeover is salt in the wound.
A quick look at Twitter will show the spread of criticism – I’m not just going to run through a list of critical quotes here, but the general idea is that Blizzard should’ve been able to recognise the controversy Mei’s design would cause. Especially since – with Sojourn confirmed as an addition to Overwatch 2 – the original Overwatch will never feature a playable Black woman.