So, according to the United States visa bureau, League of Legends is now a professional sport.
I think that’s freakin’ awesome.
Not only does it mean that professional players now have a streamlined international travel process, but even the government is taking some steps towards legitimizing e-sports as a profession. So players like CLG’s Doublelift, TSM’s Reginald, or C9’s Meteos are now given the opportunity to declare themselves, “internationally recognized athletes.” This change, representative Dustin Beck says, could even let non-American players join US teams: “It’s like David Beckham coming to LA Galaxy.” And that’s seriously a big step too. Pro-gaming is now in the process of being able to set up international draft pools, and having the world keep an eye out for players from Asia or Europe hitting the American scene. Remember all of that news surrounding Edward from Russia’s Gambit Gaming transferring to North America’s Curse Gaming? It’ll be just like Ichiro hitting the Mariners, or Matsui signing a deal with the Yankees. It’s BIG.
Convincing US Immigration and Citizenship Services to offer players pro-gaming visas was a long process, but Riot’s work hinged on proving that League of Legends can offer people the chance to make a living as professionals. “A lot of people have been dismissive of it because they don’t understand the scope of this,” Beck says. “Our viewership numbers are stronger than 80 or 90 percent of the sports covered on ESPN.”
A screencap of the 2013 League of Legends All-Star tournament held in Shanghai. The three days of competition brought in five teams comprised of the best players from the North American, European, Chinese, Korean, and Southeast Asian circuits. The entire event streamed online for free and brought in nearly 150 million unique viewers.
Of course, I can’t really see myself ever turning pro, nor can I honestly see any of my friends from the Academy doing the same, but this is still a pretty big mark on the history of e-sports. Just the fact that, less than half a century, games have come from the white bars on black screens of the Magnavox Odessey back in 1972, to international, professional competition on high-end system that transcends race, language, and the like… it blows my mind, guys. And it makes me proud to call myself a gamer.
Sorry if you guys really didn’t understand any of this, or if you just don’t care. I just needed to explode.