League of Legends developer Riot Games isn’t actually telling its World Championship casters to censor “Hong Kong” during its coverage of Taiwan-based Hong Kong Attitude, communications lead Ryan Rigney posted to Twitter yesterday.
Misinformation began to spread on Wednesday when a League of Legends World Championship caster stumbled over his words during the broadcast. Speaking of Hong Kong Attitude, which qualified for the main event, the caster stopped short of saying the team’s name before changing his mind and saying “HKA,” a common abbreviation of the team’s name. Many gamers assumed the League of Legends’ casters’ slip-up was proof that Riot Games was censoring its broadcast — but Riot said that’s not correct.
“We want to correct some confusion that we are seeing regarding our coverage of Hong Kong Attitude,” Rigney wrote. “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.”
To make this as explicit as possible, we aren’t telling anyone to avoid saying “Hong Kong.” 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.
One more personal note on this: I think everyone is very sensitive to this issue right now given the events of the last week. We should have better prepped our casters and we’re reiterating this policy to them today.
After Blizzard Entertainment banned Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung on Oct. 8 for expressing support for protests in Hong Kong on a Hearthstone broadcast, gamers have questioned if Riot Games would address the issue — specifically after Hong Kong Attitude qualified for Worlds’ main event and viewers began spamming “Free Hong Kong” in the League of Legends Twitch chat. Riot Games is owned by Tencent, a Chinese media company that said it’s halting preseason NBA broadcasts after Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong’s protesters over the weekend.
Correction: We’ve updated this story with the correct order of blitzchung’s name.