US Gov names game players “athletes”

League Of Legends

League of Legends competitors can now count themselves in the ranks of sports professionals.

Leage of Legends maker Riot Games has revealed that the US government now recognises professional competitors in its game as “athletes”.

The move may help to promote and bolster the fledgling world of professional eSports in the US, according to Riot eSports manager Nick Allen, as it enables teams to recurit players from abroad more easily.

“The United States government recognises League of Legends pro players as professional athletes, and awards Visas to essentially work in the United States under that title,” he told GameSpot (via Rockpapershotgun).

“So this is groundbreaking for eSports. Now when [international players] come over, it’s a much easier process because they are actually recognised by the government. It’s a huge thing.”

The company's VP of eSports, Dustin Beck, agreed, describing the bureaucratic nod as a “watershed moment”.

He told Polygon: “It validates eSports as a sport. Now we have the same designation as the NBA or NHL or other professional sports leagues. This opens the gates for other professional League of Legends players to make the transfer to US teams. It's like David Beckham coming to LA Galaxy."

The highly competitive multiplayer game has ruled the roost when it comes to battle arena games that stemmed from the Defence of the Ancients mod to strategy title Warcraft III.

However, competition has reared its head in the form of Dota 2 by Valve Software, which recently released the completed version of the game after two years of beta testing.

Register for HITC Gaming Digest