‘League Of Legends’ Gamers Qualify As Pro Athletes

High-level League of Legends players are now considered professional athletes by US immigration authorities.

The significance of this designation is that non-American pro gamers will now be able to obtain work visas in the same way as conventional pro athletes who pursue their sport in our country.

League of Legends is Riot Games’ wildly popular free-to-play MOBA.

In an interview with gamespot.com, Riot Games manager Nick Allen explained how this change in federal immigration procedures came to pass: “So the United States government recognizes League of Legends pro players as professional athletes and award visas to essentially work in the United States under that title. This is groundbreaking for eSports; now we can start looking at international players when they come over. It’s a much easier process because they’re actually recognized by the government. This is a huge thing.”

Apparently this particular group of video gamers are now considered “internationally recognized athletes” for purposes of immigration law, making them eligible for a five-year work visa, The Verge reports. International chess players apparently have also received this special designation.

Added Allen: “This was a lengthy process; we had a lot of people fighting for this. It wasn’t something that happened overnight… constant back and forth [with the government]… eventually got to the point where [the government said] ‘okay, we have no reason to say no, this is legitimate.’ “

Dustin Beck, another Riot Games official, referred to the recognition as a “watershed moment” that provides this group of video gamers with comparable recognition to that of the NBA or NHL or other 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 told the Polygon.com website.

The League of Legends Season 3 World Championship Finals will take place on October 4 at the Staples Center (the home court of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers).

Do you think that video gamers are in any way called upon to use the same level of physical agility, stamina, and/or strength as traditional or conventional professional athletes? Do you accept the premise that professional gaming is a sport and therefore that League of Legends players should received special work-visa consideration under immigration law?