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Following the pro-Hong Kong protest statements from professional Hearthstone player Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai and Blizzard Entertainment’s suspension of the player, even other video game companies are releasing statements in regards to what they will and will not allow e-sports players to do. Riot Games was one of these companies.
Suspicion fell on them as during the League of Legends World Championship, casters refused to use the words Hong Kong. As noted on r/LiveStreamFails, one of the casters stopped himself from saying the name of the one of the teams- Hong Kong Attitude- instead saying HKA.
Other examples happened through the tournament (1, 2)- both stopping themselves from saying Hong Kong Attitude. Outside of this tournament, casters have reportedly called the team by their proper name.
In addition, when Hong Kong Attitude won a match against Isurus Gaming, the post-match interview did not happen until much later in the stream. Something users on r/LeagueOfLegends noticed. Some speculated if the interview would happen at all, or if it was pre-recorded to prevent anything being said that Riot Games did not wish to broadcast.
Considering Riot Games is wholly owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, some began to speculate there had been orders to not even mention the words Hong Kong.
Days later, Global Head of League of Legends Esports John Needham released a statement via the League of Legends esports Twitter.
In summation, Needham confirmed that casters and players are asked to refrain from discussing “sensitive issues,” so as to avoid “potentially sensitive situations” for Riot Games employees and fans “in regions where there has been (or there is risk of) political and/or social unrest, including places like Hong Kong.”
You can read the statement in full below:
“As we near this weekend’s League of Legends World Championship Group state, I want to take a moment to speak clearly about how we approach sensitive topics on Riot’s broadcasts.
As a general rule, we want to keep our broadcasts focused on the game, the sport, and the players. We serve fans from many different countries and cultures, and we believe this opportunity comes with a responsibility to keep personal views on sensitive issues (political, religious, or otherwise) separate. These topics are often incredibly nuanced, require deep understanding and a willingness to listen, and cannot be fairly represented in the forum our broadcast provides. Therefore, we have reminded our casters and pro players to refrain from discussing any of these topics on air.
Our decision also reflects that we have Riot employees and fans in regions where there has been (or there is risk of) political and/or social unrest, including places like Hong Kong. We believe we have a responsibility to do our best to ensure that statements or actions on our official platforms (intended or not) do not escalate to potentially sensitive situations.
We’ll always strive to deliver a great competitive experience for players and fans. It may be idealistic, but we hope that League of Legends can be a positive force that brings people together, no matter where they are in the world, even if it’s just one game at a time on Summoner’s Rift.”
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!