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Riot denies it told anyone to stop saying 'Hong Kong'

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Following accusations that it banned the full name of the League of Legends (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) for his support of Hong Kong protesters in a post-match interview. Several clips were collected in a Reddit thread (opens in new tab), 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. 

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The official League of Legends esports account referred to the team by its full name on October 7 (opens in new tab) and October 8 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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. 

Cheers, Kotaku (opens in new tab).

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.