While pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong continue, political unrest is now having an impact on eSports as developers and promoters seek to avoid problems with Chinese companies often intertwined with the federal government.
League Of Legends is the latest major multiplayer title to make a statement about the issue. Global Head of League of Legends eSports John Needham recently tweeted a message asking players and podcasters to refrain from mentioning politics during eSports events. Needham commented:
Needham additionally mentions the Hong Kong protests in particular, asking that League Of Legends events remain positive and unifying. It isn’t clear what, if any, disciplinary action may be implemented against players who discuss the Hong Kong protests during game-focused events.
League Of Legends is developed by Riot Games, which in turn is owned by Chinese company Tencent Holdings (OTCMKTS: TCEHY).
Companies seeking to clamp down on political commentary from pro eSports players came into the public eye of the gaming community when Activision Blizzard
Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai was banned from this season of Grandmasters after expressing support for the Hong Kong protests in a post-match interview. In addition to being stripped of his earnings so far in 2019, he will not be allowed to play at a pro level for another two years.
After outcry from the Hearthstone community, Blizzard issued a statement explaining the company can remove any player from the Grandmasters group if they have brought “public disrepute” or damaged Blizzard’s image.
Rather than soothing tensions, that statement led to further unrest from fans, with protests and boycotts expected at upcoming Blizzard events. Aside from the player ban, two interviewers who discussed the protests with Blitzchung were also fired, leading to hashtags such as #boycottblizzard to trend on Twitter over the past week.
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