League of Legends players recognized as pro athletes by US government

Riot Games has announced that the US government now officially recognizes League of Legends players as professional athletes.


League of Legends is one of the biggest e-sports, even securing sports stadiums for its championships. It's still not widely regarded as a "real sport," but that may be changing. The United States government, at least, has decided it qualifies.

GameSpot reports that after lengthy discussions with Riot Games, the US government officially recognizes pro League of Legends players as professional athletes. This isn't merely for show; the status means that LoL players can get work visas in the country, which opens the possibility of recruiting.

"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," e-sports manager Nick Allen said. "This is a huge thing."

While this could conceivably open the door to other e-sports, Allen notes that this took a long time and several rounds of discussions and evidence. "This was a lengthy process; we had a lot of people fighting for this," he said. "It wasn't something that happened overnight."

The World Playoffs semi-finals will take place throughout September, which will determine the two teams to take on the Season 3 championship on October 4 in Los Angeles.

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  • reply
    July 15, 2013 12:00 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, League of Legends players recognized as pro athletes by US government.

    Riot Games has announced that the US government now officially recognizes League of Legends players as professional athletes.

    • reply
      July 15, 2013 12:15 PM

      When I post it's not news, I see how it is! haha


    • reply
      July 15, 2013 12:18 PM

      Wow? This is huge. Would DOTA2 get similar status? I suppose not considering the huge diff. in user base?

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        July 15, 2013 12:27 PM

        none of the articles cite any sources so it's hard to tell. some of the articles seem to suggest that it's specifically league of legends, but it's hard to tell whether the author is just being inarticulate or making assumptions rather than actually knowing.

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          July 15, 2013 12:32 PM

          It's specifically League of Legends.

          I'm sure Starcraft 2 and DOTA 2 will be able to do the same thing. But why would they want to? They don't have anything comparable to the LCS, so there's no real reason for them to get granted that status.

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            July 15, 2013 1:52 PM

            LCS? Wouldn't having the status granted increase interest in the young ones for the game and benefit Valve ($$$$) ?

            I mean what kid wouldn't want to be a professional gamer!

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              July 15, 2013 1:55 PM

              do you really think immigration visa status is a compelling motivator? this is silly. nobody is going to be like "oh i wasn't going to try to be a professional dota player before, but now that i know it qualifies for a sports visa i'm totally in"

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                July 15, 2013 1:58 PM

                LCS = League of Legends Championship Series. it's a season of weekly games between professional teams followed by playoffs and then a championship tournament, similar to league play in other sports. this is why riot needed to get a visa for shiphtur -- he needs to live in the united states to participate in the LCS season. if it were a one-off tournament, like dota 2's "the international" tournament, he wouldn't need a resident visa

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            July 16, 2013 2:31 AM

            Blizzard has WCS, but that doesn't require as long as a stay in another country as LCS might.

            However, visa issues can still come up even for weekend events. All it takes it one bad encounter with a border agent and someone can get fucked for a very long time. I remember Stephano saying one time he had a rather interesting conversation at the US border that was mostly the agent thinking his stated reason was a fabrication. He had to convince the guy it wasn't and that the event actually existed. Stuff like that isn't really limited to just the US either.

            So instead of "you say you're coming into this country to try and win money playing a video game?" with some person that's never once heard that's even possible and may/or may not think it is bullshit, it becomes a "oh ok, you have an entry visa of type X given to you via regulations blah blah etc". It turns it into something fully covered in the procedures and that is (hopefully) familiar to the agents. It just makes the whole process easier.

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        July 15, 2013 1:42 PM

        Probably not, since Valve isn't the employer for these pro players the same was Riot is for its scene. Not to mention only a handful of tournaments are actually played out in the US. The few organizations that it would apply to, such as Evil Geniuses and other US-based organizations, already fill their teams with Americans or Canadians and neither of those groups ever have visa issues. SexyBamboe is probably the only player in the Dota scene for whom this ruling may help, since he's the only non-American/non-Canadian paid by a US organization.

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        July 15, 2013 2:01 PM

        What is the main difference in userbase between the two. I know nothing of these games but I DID jsut install and start the tutorial shit in DOTA 2.

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          July 15, 2013 2:10 PM

          About 3,000,000 vs 30,000,000.

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          July 15, 2013 2:11 PM

          he's talking about size. league of legends is the most popular game in the world. dota 2 doesn't come close

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            July 15, 2013 2:26 PM

            oh yeah, okay.

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            July 15, 2013 2:30 PM

            isn't dota 1 pretty friggin big still, thanks to asian countries?

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              July 15, 2013 2:32 PM

              i'm not sure where to look up numbers for dota. some google searches didn't find anything. but i know league is huge in asia too. many of the top streamers on twitch are chinese

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                July 15, 2013 2:35 PM

                I thought I saw an article with numbers a while back but my google-fu is failing me. Nevermind.

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                  July 15, 2013 3:18 PM

                  Riot announced they had their billionth LoL game played and then a LAN client producer went to Chinese twitter (t.qq.com) and announced they had 5 billion Dota 1 games that year alone.

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        July 15, 2013 2:23 PM

        The players got work visas because they are being employed by Riot and they want them to work in the US.

        This wouldn't happen with other esports unless other companies started their own leagues and had the same work requirements. Good on Riot for really pushing this forward.

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      July 15, 2013 12:26 PM

      When do we start testing for 'roids?

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      July 15, 2013 12:33 PM

      BTW, Chess falls under the same ranking for Visa usage, so.. don't go crazy.

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      July 15, 2013 1:07 PM

      League of what?!
      Is this a Diablo or Warcraft clone/mod?
      I think I heard something about this.

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        July 15, 2013 1:13 PM

        League of Legends is a F2P MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) like Defense Against the Ancients (DoTA)

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          July 15, 2013 1:17 PM

          Yeah, thank you. I read a little about it after I posted. Thanks for info.

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      July 15, 2013 2:14 PM

      wow whats next 6 year olds playing candyland?

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        July 16, 2013 12:57 AM

        I don't think league players would be able to handle the apm

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      July 15, 2013 3:47 PM

      So everyone who has played the game is a pro athlete now. Updating my resume...

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      July 16, 2013 2:34 AM

      You fags on EU WEST need to autojoin channel Shacknews! Lots of pro athletes. And Bamii.

    • reply
      July 16, 2013 8:53 PM

      Athletic: physically active and strong; of or pertaining to athletes; involving the use of physical skills or capabilities, as strength, agility, or stamina

      Athlete: a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength

      So the USA government is retarded and don't know what an athlete is, or that games are not athletic.

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