Following accusations that it banned the full name of the League of Legends team Hong Kong Attitude, Riot Games has denied that it’s told casters to instead use ‘HKA’, instead chalking it up to internal confusion over whether the full name or the abbreviation should be used.
When viewers noticed casters correcting themselves midway through saying the team’s name, changing it to HKA, comparisons were made to Blizzard’s recent removal of a Hearthstone Grandmaster for his support of Hong Kong protesters in a post-match interview. Several clips were collected in a Reddit thread, though the full name of the team was still displayed and mentioned elsewhere.
Riot is owned by Chinese publisher Tencent, which also owns a much smaller stake in Blizzard, leading to accusations that it had pressured Riot into censoring casters, even though the name isn’t related to the Hong Kong protests. In a statement from Riot posted by community lead Ryan Rigney, it denies this is the case.
An official statement to correct some confusion about how we talk about Hong Kong Attitude on our esports broadcasts: pic.twitter.com/ZRqhN7VenKOctober 9, 2019
The official League of Legends esports account referred to the team by its full name on October 7 and October 8, so it does seem to be a lack of consistency rather than a concerted effort to censor the team’s name.
Rigney followed up the official statement by clarifying that Riot is not telling anyone to avoid saying ‘Hong Kong’, but that it would 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,” he added.
He did confirm, however, that most interviews are pre-recorded, sometimes because of convenience, but sometimes when Riot wants to be “thoughtful about the message” that it’s broadcasting, suggesting it, like Blizzard, doesn’t want to give casters room to make political statements.