When you open the League of Legends client, it takes a few clicks to join a Ranked lobby and hit play, and a few more to play with your friends. But it’s just as easy to find unmoderated racist, homophobic, and sexist team names in the same client.
The Clash game mode, which is accessible to anyone who has an account above level 30, allows players to team up with four others to compete in a bracket system against other teams. Each team could potentially win some prizes in-game if they win or lose, so what’s not to love?
But the rewards and prizes exist alongside blatant toxicity, racism, and sexism present in the game mode. Riot doesn’t moderate team names during the construction of lobbies or the team-building process that players ultimately enter. This means that anyone can open the client, click on Clash, and search for any team name or view all team names at once from each tier.
This has led to plenty of players creating racist and homophobic team names. Dot Esports found over 40 instances of these offensive team names from both Europe West and North America over three days of one tournament. There are 19 days total full of different team names across eight tournaments.
Riot told Dot Esports that the Clash team has been “working on manually reviewing, removing, and penalizing teams.” But all team names found are still active and have not been removed.
From “Black Lives Don’t Matter” to “Never Trust Black,” it’s clear Riot’s automated moderation system can easily be bypassed. There were multiple instances of teams navigating past the built-in restrictions on swear words and other offensive language, which led to teams being created such as “Fe**ots R Us” and “Nii***r Lives Matter.”
This hate speech extends beyond both regions, though. A viral video circulating on Tik Tok (warning: racist language) shows two Oceanic teams in the Clash bracket. Both team names criticize the Black Lives Matter movement and call George Floyd a racial slur.
This isn’t new to the League community, however. Five years ago, one Reddit user reported that their team was set to play “We Hate Muslims n Jews” in the next round of competition in Battlegrounds. Riot employee Ben Forbes responded to this comment thanking the user for reporting the issue and said the team name would be changed to “We Respect All Cultures.”
Yet clearly this problem is still persistent in League to this day.
Riot typically enforces reporting in the client if players are being toxic, refusing to play the game, or using offensive names. But for Clash, the names themselves are impossible to miss. And they’re also difficult to report. Players can simply open Clash and view all of these team names without being able to report them directly to Riot unless they use the support system.
“Names like these aren’t appropriate and we take action to address them when we see them,” Riot said in a statement to Dot Esports. “We believe the vast majority of intentionally egregious names are caught using preventative measures from our name-check service, but we’re always working to improve our systems so fewer and fewer names slip through.”
“Players can be a huge help in identifying inappropriate names and flagging them for review so we can give players a safe and inclusive gaming experience. We encourage anyone who sees a potentially inappropriate name to report it through in-game tools on through our support site.”
Riot has taken action to fix its well-publicized toxicity problem. The company has made it possible to report players during champion select if they pick troll champs while also ensuring that “inters” face penalties.
Still, the problems persist. League has been hailed as one of the most toxic games. A survey published by GameRant earlier this year found that 98 percent of players who took the survey had been flamed during the game and another 79 percent said they experienced harassment after the game had concluded.
Earlier this year, Riot was caught up in another controversy. Following the death of George Floyd, high-ranking Riot employee Ron Johnson attributed a “criminal lifestyle” to Floyd and made several comments regarding his history of arrests.
After removing him from the company, Riot committed $1 million to the The Innocence Project and the American Civil Liberties Union.
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