Riot Games has responded to community speculation that had been getting traction on the League of Legends subreddit. After Blizzard got itself in hot water earlier this week by banning Hearthstone player Blitzchung for on-stream pro Hong Kong comments, League fans started to notice something on the official League of Legends World Championship broadcast.
Casters, supposedly, were avoiding Hong Kong Attitude's full name. Only the team's initials 'HKA', the community speculated, were allowed on broadcast to not offend Tencent, a Chinese conglomerate who owns 100% of Riot Games.
VODs of alleged 'censored' moments circulated as examples of situations where casters would correct themselves in the middle of saying "Hong Kong Attitude", and say "HKA" instead.
Other Reddit users argued against the accusations, and dug up clips of League casters clearly and without doubt pronouncing Hong Kong Attitude.
Given the recent turmoil surrounding Activision Blizzard's and the NBA's decisions that seemed to pander to China, and with Tencent owning Riot Games, it's not strange the spotlight was on Riot Games. However, Riot has now stated that Worlds 2019's casters have not been instructed to avoid saying Hong Kong Attitude. On Twitter Ryan Rigney, Communications Lead at the company, shared the statement:
"We want to correct some confusion that we are seeing regarding our coverage of Hong Kong Attitude. 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."
On Reddit, Rigney elaborated that the casters shouldn't be targeted for the confusion caused: "I said this on Twitter but I really wanna reiterate it here: the confusion here is NOT to be blamed on the casters at all. This is such a sensitive issue and they should have been better prepped by myself and other Riot comms folks. That’s on us."
Image via Riot Games