Yesterday, I wrote about how the All-Star League of Legends event may have managed to give us a glimpse of what the 2017 season might look like, in between goofs. On the LAS broadcast of the Barcelona-based event, we got a glimpse of something else; that ol’ esports staple, racism.
Yes, it seems that we’ve gone almost an entire month since racism reared its head, at least in a public, major way, in the world of esports. If we’re widening our net to general bigotry, we can look back at The Summit 6, where Johan “N0tail” Sundstein described iceiceice’s Tidehunter as a “taunt-spamming faggot,” but in terms of your garden variety racism we had almost made it out of 2016 without a caster for a major event mocking someone based on their ethnicity. So close!
During the one v. ones on day two of the All-Star event, following the match between Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang and Seong-ung “Bengi” Bae, two of the casters—Diego “Vendetta” Ramirez and Bastian Guzman—thought it would be funny to mock how the asian players sounded, using the phrase “Ching Chong.” You can watch it here.
This wasn’t even a hot mic situation, or a hidden camera deal. They were on a live broadcast! They knew they were on a live broadcast! And yet they still felt it was appropriate to make stereotypical “Chinese” noises.
The casters were promptly removed from the broadcast, and Chris “Chopper” Hopper from Riot posted a translated statement to Reddit from the Barcelona broadcast team regarding the whole shitshow. In the response, Riot apologized for the comments and said they were “extremely disappointed in the behavior of those two casters.” They ended by reminding everyone that “This kind of language is unacceptable, and we apologize to all of our fans, players, and teams.”
It is a pretty huge bummer that the lighthearted and low-consequence fun of the 2016 All-Star event was marred by racist jokes. At the very least, Riot’s swift response should set a precedent for the next caster who thinks the playground bullies from elementary school had a comedic style worthy of emulation.
Update: Originally, this article suggested that, since neither player being mocked was Chinese, that the pejorative comments from the casters were inaccurate on top of being intolerant. However, considering that Maple speaks Mandarin, we have revised our comment.