Following accusations of censoring the mention of “Hong Kong” during its live streams, Riot Games has come out with a statement that says otherwise.
What happened earlier was that casters and analysts were correcting themselves while discussing the Hong Kong Attitude esports team, which has been playing the ongoing play-ins for the League of Legends World Championship. Instead of saying the complete name, they resorted to just the acronym HKA. Even a post-match interview of Hong Kong Attitude was delayed for a later time.
Spectators naturally took these moments as a sign that Riot Games has instructed its casters and analysts to refrain from mentioning anything Hong Kong. Since Riot Games and League of Legends are fully owned by Tencent Games, the Chinese behemoth, there was probable cause for concern.
Taking to Twitter earlier today, communications lead Ryan “Riot Cactopus” Rigney clarified that Riot Games has sent out no such instructions. Neither casters nor analysts have been led to use acronyms for Hong Kong Attitude. In fact, Riot Games has a policy that all esports teams should routinely be called by their full names. Hence, there should be no concern for any censorship in play.
An official statement to correct some confusion about how we talk about Hong Kong Attitude on our esports broadcasts: pic.twitter.com/ZRqhN7VenK
— Ryan Rigney (@RKRigney) October 9, 2019
According to Riot Games, the casters and analysts took it upon themselves to not mention Hong Kong because of how everyone’s very sensitive to the ongoing protests in the country. There seems to be a communication mishap between the staffers and Riot Games is working to correct it as quickly as possible.
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.
Many took Hearthstone as a starting point for other games to follow. Riot Games was, hence, figured to be protecting itself (and League of Legends) when the casters and analysts began rephrasing their words around Hong Kong. It doesn’t seem to be the case and understandable as to why the casters and analysts would want to tread carefully. That being said, and this might come as an unpopular opinion, but not every stage needs to be used to fan political flames.