Something peculiar has come to light during the recent series of matches in the ongoing play-ins for the League of Legends World Championship.
Riot Games has apparently instructed its casters, analysts, and hosts to refrain from mentioning the word “Hong Kong” for the remainder of the annual event. There’s obviously no official confirmation on that but those who followed the latest livestream were sharp enough to spot some weird consistencies.
In a post on Reddit earlier today, players highlighted specific moments from the League of Legends broadcast where several casters corrected themselves while discussing the Hong Kong Attitude esports team. Instead of saying the complete name, the casters resorted to just the acronym HKA. There were also instances where casters began to say Hong Kong and then immediately changed their phrasing to HKA, even hiding a little smile in the process.
Any more proof needed to confirm the suspicions arrived when a post-match interview of Hong Kong Attitude was delayed. They usually air right after a match has concluded. However, Riot Games didn’t air the interview, which featured players from Hong Kong Attitude, until much later in the stream.
Spectators naturally took this as a sign that Riot Games didn’t want to risk having the players say something about the ongoing Hong Kong protests on a live League of Legends stream. Delaying the interview would allow the staffers to cut out any unwanted segments, or even the whole thing if they wanted to.
Suffice to say, all of that looked incredibly unnatural. You could actually feel the casters and analysts being a bit uncomfortable when discussing Hong Kong Attitude. Just to remind, Riot Games and League of Legends are owned by Tencent, the Chinese behemoth. Whether or not Tencent had a hand in this, you can understand why Riot Games would choose to tread very carefully.
Earlier in the week, Hearthstone professional Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai called out for the liberation of Hong Kong in his post-match winning interview of the ongoing Asia-Pacific Grandmasters. Blizzard took down the footage soon afterwards and decided to not only ban Blitzchung but also take away his winnings. The duo casters at the time of the interview were also fired by Blizzard.
Riot Games probably took a cue from that incident for its League of Legends championship. The League of Legends community, though, is not having it.