Pro League of Legends players are professional athletes, says US government

There may not be eSports stadiums popping up in American cities just yet, but competitive gaming has gotten one step closer to official recognition. Specifically, the US government has begun issuing visas to international League of Legends players, designating them "professional athletes."

Speaking to GameSpot, Riot Games eSports manager Nick Allen discussed the new development. "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," he said, calling the visas "groundbreaking for eSports." Organizing international tournaments is now "a much easier process, because [players] are actually recognized by the government. This is a huge thing."

Getting the visas issued was a "lengthy process," Allen said, with Riot going back and forth with the government until enough proof was provided and the visas were finally issued.

Oh, and about those stadiums, the League of Legends Season 3 Championship finals will be taking place October 4 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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RIOT BRINGS SEASON 3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS TO
THE STAPLES CENTER ON OCTOBER 4TH

Every match counts in the quest for glory as the world's best League of Legends athletes compete for a chance to claim the Summoner's Cup this October

LOS ANGELES - July 11, 2013 - Riot Games today unveiled plans for the Season 3 World Championship, the premier event for League of Legends professional esports on a global stage. Beginning September 16th, the best teams from each region around the world will descend on Southern California for a month of intense action, including semi-finals held at the Galen Center, the site of last year's final. Once the dust settles, competitors will head downtown for the World Final at the prestigious home of pro sports in Los Angeles - the Staples Center.

Taking place Friday, October 4th the World Championship tournament will be the pinnacle of pro League of Legends play this year, with the sport's preeminent athletes battling in front of more than 10,000 live fans, plus millions more online. The winning team will be crowned the Season 3 world champion, walking away with the Summoner's Cup and $1 million in cash. Tickets go on sale soon at lolesports.com and other associated ticketing outlets.

The road to the finals will not be easy. In the coming weeks, professional teams in each region will play in qualifier events around the world. The top 14 teams from North America, Korea, China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and an international wild-card will then head to Southern California for the World Playoffs. After a group stage and two critical single-elimination rounds, the two remaining teams advance to the Staples Center for an epic showdown.

Keep an eye on www.lolesports.com this summer for comprehensive coverage of every crucial match, along with news, standings, and premium original content.

League of Legends World Championship key facts:
· Every match counts: Top teams from around the world will compete during qualifying events throughout the summer, with regional dominance and a trip to Los Angeles on the line

· Eyes of the world on LA: With thousands of seats filled and millions of fans watching from home, the World Championship closes out a historic season for professional esports

· Millions of dollars on the line: October's $2 million prize pool rounds out the Season 3 total to more than $8 million across the globe


Interest in esports around the world has skyrocketed over the past year. Viewership during the inaugural League of Legends All-Star event peaked at over 18 million unique viewers, with fans around the world casting more than 50 million votes to determine the event's star players.

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About League of Legends
League of Legends(r) is a fast-paced, competitive online game that blends the speed and intensity of an RTS with RPG elements. Two teams of powerful champions, each with a unique design and play style, battle head-to-head across multiple battlefields and game modes. With an ever-expanding roster of champions, frequent balance patches and a thriving tournament scene, League of Legends offers endless replayability for players of every skill level.

About Riot Games
Riot Games was established in 2006 by entrepreneurial gamers who believe that player-focused game development can result in great games. In 2009, Riot released its debut title League of Legends to critical and player acclaim. Over 11 million play every month. Players form the foundation of our community and it's for them that we continue to evolve and improve the League of Legends experience.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.