Riot Games has announced a rather startling development regarding the status of League of Legends LCS players in the eyes of the US government. At least in terms of issuing work visas, the US government considers LCS players as professional athletes, the same status given to NBA, NFL, and NHL players. Generally speaking there are no other material effects, but nonetheless it stands as a symbol of just how far eSports have come in recent years.
In a comment to GameSpot, Riot eSports Manager Nick Allen said the following:
"The United States government recognizes League of Legends pro players as professional athletes, and awards visas to essentially work in the United States under that title, so this is groundbreaking for eSports. I mean, 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. It's a huge thing."
Considering Riot has had difficulties in the past making certain that international player could acquire visas and attend large tournaments, this has to be the end of a very long headache. Not to mention, it probably feels pretty awesome for LCS players to walk around knowing the US government puts them on the same level as Kobe Bryant and Tom Brady.
All of this news is of course leading up to the League of Legends World Championship which starts September 16, wil develop over the following weeks and culminate at the Staples Center in early October.