Riot Tries To Force League Of Legends Player Named Corona To Change His Username

Riot Tries To Force League Of Legends Player Named Corona To Change His Username
Photo: Josh Lefkowitz, Getty Images
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Joao Corona’s League of Legends name had never been a problem in the past. But earlier this month, Riot told him he had to change it to something else if he wanted to keep playing.

A year ago many people knew Corona as the overpriced Mexican beer for impromptu beach parties by rich and beautiful people. In Spanish it simply means “crown.” Now it’s also known globally as the name of a deadly virus that’s claimed over 130,000 lives. That’s become a problem for 24-year old Joao Corona, who both has Corona as his legal surname and has been using it as his League of Legends handle for over a year.

On April 1 he says he logged into the popular MOBA only to find a message telling him he’d need to change his username if he wanted to keep playing. “I thought it was amusing at first, as almost every game a player would say in chat ‘nice name’ to me, but I just shrugged my shoulders and emailed Riot in the hopes of them agreeing that it was a funny situation, and my name would be white-listed,” he wrote in a post that blew up on the League of Legends subreddit yesterday.

Screenshot: Joao Corona, League of Legends

Corona tried to explain the situation to Riot in an email to customer support according to screencaps of the conversation he uploaded to Imgur. A casual League player since 2014, he’d been playing under the alias “Squid Corona.” Then a year ago he was able to get the name “Corona” and switched to that instead, thinking it would make it easier for new friends to add him in-game.

Customer support failed to be persuaded. “I will kindly ask that you go ahead and change your name to something you like,” a player support specialist under the name Monocromie wrote back. “In the meanwhile, I will try and see if it’s possible for you to keep it.” Corona tried to plead his case in a follow-up, but Riot eventually denied the request to keep his original screen name.

Imgur" loading="lazy" > Screenshot: Joao Corona, Imgur

Online games are prone to trolling and toxic behaviour and usernames are an easy place for players to try and slip in their preferred form of performative edginess. Other players reported seeing names they considered much more insensitive than Corona’s, like “CoronaComin4U” and “ChinaVrs.” It’s unclear if Corona’s just got caught up in a more general sweep targeting potentially offensive coronavirus-related usernames, or fell victim to a more blanket policy against references to the virus that Riot just doesn’t have the resources to enact across the board.

Riot did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We don’t think forcing a name change in this instance is in line with our policies, so we’ll be looking into this situation,” Ryan Rigney, communications lead for League of Legends, wrote on Reddit. In the meantime the company has given Corona back his username.

“I think in principle I understand why some people might be upset at this, but I think it’s a bit ridiculous if you try to control every variable that might make someone upset,” Corona told Buzzfeed in an interview. “I just think it’s a bit silly.”

Comments

  • This is peak idiocy. Shouldn’t have even been asked to change it in the first place.

    Utter insanity when people start trying to eradicate the use of inoffensive words with multiple benign meanings or references, just because it becomes associated with a negative much later on.

    • In light of the worldwide pandemic, all major bookstores and libraries will remove all Novels from the shelves or change the name to, “Big Book”

  • I can understand it being an automated response to complaints, but one look at his account should reveal the legitimacy of his use of the name. Its his damn surname, for crying out loud. One look should reveal “yep, not a troll”, and allow his use of it.

    • it should not even matter how long he has used the name or the fact it is his surname. censorship like this is just straight up wrong regardless of whether someone is trolling or not. the word corona does not harm anyone.

  • Fun fact. The “Corona” part of “Corona Virus” comes from the fact that the small protrusions from surface create the effect of a crown, which Corona is Latin for. It is commonly used to describe the circular light effect around celestial bodies and has many other common uses in English but hey, let’s just abandon all common sense and censor anything that might make us feel bad.

  • “Riot tries to force LoL player to change his name”
    I mean, it certainly sounds like they’re succeeding.

  • Meanwhile there’s a Malaysian Starcraft pro who just straight-up changed his name to Coronavirus. You’d think he’d be ashamed of his 3% win rate.

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