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League of Legends • Oct 10, 2019

Riot Games address alleged Hong Kong censorship at Worlds 2019

Riot Games address alleged Hong Kong censorship at Worlds 2019
Riot/HKA

League of Legends fans have accused Riot of censorship at the Worlds 2019 tournament in regards to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, and now the company has released an official statement in an attempt to clear things up.

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Blizzard banned Hearthstone pro Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai for his comments supporting the Hong Kong protest movement on October 8, and ignited a firestorm of controversy among video game fans.

With the highly-publicized Worlds LoL tournament happening, fans began to wonder if Riot Games (whose parent company is Chinese conglomerate Tencent) were self-censoring their casters and the broadcast to avoid a similar situation.

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Why did fans think Riot was censoring their broadcast?

Apart from speculation on social media, there was no solid evidence that Riot was censoring the broadcast of Worlds 2019 to avoid any mention of Hong Kong.

Fans pointed to the fact that casters only used the shortened “HK” instead of saying “Hong Kong” when talking about the Hong Kong Attitude team, and the fact that none of the team were interviewed following their win over Argentinian club Isurus Gaming on October 8 (HKA 3-1 IG).

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Soon after the speculation started gaining traction on Reddit, LoL communications lead Ryan Rigney shared a statement from Riot about how they talked about Hong Kong Attitude on the broadcast.

“We want to correct some confusion that we are seeing regarding our coverage of Hong Kong Attitude,” the statement reads. “As you can see from our official @lolesports twitter account, we refer to their team interchangeably by both their full name and their tricode abbreviation HKA, as we routinely do with all of the teams in our ecosystem.”

Rigney further clarified Riot’s stance on the issue in a follow-up tweet after posting the official statement.

“To make this as explicit as possible, we aren't telling anyone to avoid saying ‘hong kong.’” he stated. “We'd just rather the team be referred to by its full name. There's been some confusion internally about this as well and we're working to correct it.”

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What about the lack of interviews?

The statement seemed to answer questions about why casters were using “HK” but didn’t address why the team hadn’t been interviewed after their win on Wednesday.

Esports insider Rod ‘Slasher’ Breslau followed up by asking Rigney if Riot were prerecording the broadcast and interviews, including for Hong Kong Attitude.

“A majority of our interviews on any given broadcast day are pre-recorded,” Rigney told Breslau on Twitter. “Sometimes we do it when we want to be thoughtful about the message we're broadcasting (like in this case). Sometimes it's just because it's convenient.”

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Controversy aside, the League of Legends world still has a massive tournament to play, and fans across the world are excited for what lays in store for them at Worlds 2019.

The competition kicked off on October 2, and will run until a champion is crowned on November 12.

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