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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League of Legends players recognized as pro athletes by US government