Have you ever wanted to visit the American colonies but found yourself restricted to a short term stay? Fancy staying for as much as five years at a time? Well now you can, as long as you get good enough to be considered a professional League of Legends player, as the US immigration service now recognises it as a legitimate sport.
This happened for the first time recently, thanks to pressure from publisher Riot Games, which managed to make it possible for Canadian player, Danny “Shiphtur,” Le to stay in country for half a decade on a sports visa. Chances are now, you’d be able to cite this instance – and presumably your own monumental skill at last hitting – as reason enough for you to be granted a long term stay.
Riot Game’s vice president of esports, Dustin Beck said in a statement (via Polygon): “This is a watershed moment. It validates eSports as a sport. Now we have the same designation as the NBA or NHL or other professional sports leagues. This opens the gates for other professional League of Legends players to make the transfer to U.S. teams. It’s like David Beckham coming to LA Galaxy.”
He then went on to point out that while Riot had to go to a lot of effort to convince the immigration department, one great fact they could wheel out, was that competitive League of Legends is watched by more people than most of the sports being shown on channels like ESPN. At the All-Star event in May this year, Riot pulled in over 18 million unique viewers.
KitGuru Says: Pro gaming might have had peaks at other times in the history of gaming, but it really looks like it might be coming home to roost with games like League. Any of you semi-competitive on the scene? What ranked group are you in?