Riot Games Says League of Legends World Championship Broadcast Will Stay "Focused on the Game"
The statement from Riot comes about following Blizzard's banning of a Hearthstone pro player earlier this week after the player called for liberation in Hong Kong.
It’s been a controversial week in esports and gaming as a whole after Blizzard banned Hearthstone player Blitzchung from its league for making a statement of support for those in Hong Kong protesting the Chinese government. The move has been met with widespread criticism and has sent reverberations through the rest of the gaming community with many commenting on the matter and making clear their own stances.
Now, prior to the start of the Group Stage of the League of Legends World Championship 2019, arguably the biggest esports tournament of the year, Riot Games has released a statement of its own saying that its broadcasts throughout the tournament will remain focused on the game itself.
“We serve fans from many different countries and cultures, and we believe this opportunity comes with a responsibility to keep personal views on sensitives issues (political, religious, or otherwise) separate,” said Riot’s John Needham, the Global Head of League of Legends Esports. “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 these topics on air.”
A message from John Needham, Global Head of League of Legends Esports pic.twitter.com/5Au9rE7T86
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 11, 2019
The statement goes on to mention specifically the region of Hong Kong, saying that the company has fans and employees in such regions and doesn’t want to further “escalate potentially sensitive situations.” One of the remaining 16 teams in the League of Legends World Championship, Hong Kong Attitude, is specifically tied to the location of Hong Kong. Earlier this week, Riot released another statement clarifying that its casters weren’t going out of their way to avoid saying the words “Hong Kong” while on air, and instead were just naturally using the team’s abbreviation (HKA) as it often does with many other teams around the world.
The League of Legends World Championship Group Stage is set to kick off tomorrow morning at 8am EST/5am PST in the opening match between Fnatic and SK Telecom T1.