Riot clarifies stance on political statements ahead of Worlds 2019

Brent Harrington • October 12, 21:33

John Needham, the global head of League of Legends esports, has released an announcement about political statements made during League of Legends broadcasts.

The biggest League of Legends tournament of the year has just gotten underway. The 2019 League of Legends World Championship kicked off with two former world champions facing off as Fnatic fell to SK Telecom T1.

Needham’s statement addressed the start of Worlds, saying he wanted to be clear about Riot Games’ stance on “sensitive” topics during broadcasts. This comes five days after Blizzard banned a player from competitive play for voicing support of protests in Hong Kong in a post-game interview. Blizzard drew much criticism for the punishment.

It also comes after fans complained during the play-in stages for Worlds. They questioned why the broadcasters were shortening the name of one of the teams competing, specifically referring to Hong Kong Attitude as “HKA.”

Needham’s statement was very similar in theme to that of Blizzard president J. Allen Brack’s. The broadcasts are intended to showcase the games, not politics.

“As a general rule, we want to keep our broadcasts focused on the game, the sport, and the players. We serve fans from many different countries and cultures, and we believe this opportunity comes with a responsibility to keep personal views on sensitive issues separate,” Needham said.

Needham referred to many issues as “nuanced.” Many fans derided the statement, offering that protesting in favor of the preservation of individual freedoms was hardly a matter of great nuance. Blizzard’s response faced similar backlash.

All of this uproar has led to some of the top brands in gaming esports releasing statements. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney released a statement expressing his full support for players expressing their beliefs during events.

The response to Blizzard’s decision has been one of the driving stories of the week. Most fans appear to be disappointed by many of the statements released by Blizzard and Riot Games.

It appears that these statements have been an attempt to satiate the crowd looking for answers. The statements haven’t done much to change the opinion of fans that Chinese investment money is, at least on some level, dictating the level of free speech professional players and broadcasters can enjoy during event broadcasts. 

article-img

How Riot Games and Tencent bend to the Chinese government’s will

lol
Steven Rondina • September 4, 16:46
article-img

Blizzard locks subreddit after ban of Hearthstone player Blitzchung

Tom Beer • October 8, 19:54
article-img

ESL CEO instructs employees not to mention Hong Kong protests

Olivia Richman • October 15, 11:29
article-img

Riot tries to explain hesitance to name Hong Kong Attitude at Worlds

lol
Milo Webb • October 12, 16:00
article-img

Riot officially cancels 2020 Mid-Season Invitational, changes Worlds

lol
Olivia Richman • April 23, 16:58
article-img

Blizzard demands Dallas Fuel coach delete Hong Kong tweet

Olivia Richman • October 11, 00:01