Riot Games says that pro players and casters participating in the 2019 League of Legends World Championships are not allowed to discuss “personal views on sensitive issues” during broadcasts, according to the company’s global head of esports.
The global head of League of Legends esports, John Needham, said that casters and players have been told not to share “sensitive topics,” such as politics or religion, in a message posted to the LoL Esports Twitter account.
“Our decision also reflects that we have Riot employees and fans in regions where there has been (or there is risk of) political and/or social unrest, including places like Hong Kong,” Needham says. “We believe we have a responsibility to do our best to ensure that statements or actions on our official platforms (intended or not) do not escalate potentially sensitive situations.”
This decision follows a controversy in which viewers believed that Riot Games was preventing casters and analysts from saying the full name of the League of Legends Master Series team, Hong Kong Attitude. Riot later released a statement stating that there was no purposeful censorship of the team’s name. Blizzard had also recently banned Hearthstone player Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai for his pro-Hong Kong statements shared in a post-game interview.
It’s unclear whether players and casters are allowed to speak about politics — including the Hong Kong protests — on their own personal social media channels. Polygon has reached out to Riot Games for comment, and will update this post when the company responds.