Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

US government recognizes 'League of Legends' video game as a sport

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Break out your varsity jackets, gamers — Santa Monica video game publisher Riot Games worked with the United States government and has managed to get the competitors who play Riot’s “League of Legends” recognized as pro athletes.

That means that the U.S. government will grant visas to international players, letting them come to the States to play the game.

“This is groundbreaking,” Riot Games manager Nick Allen told Gamespot in an interview. “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.”

Allen added, “This was a lengthy process; we had a lot of people fighting for this. It wasn’t something that happened overnight.”

According to Allen, the company had to provide evidence to the government multiple times. No word on if showing officials their callused thumbs was part of it.

The League of Legends Season 3 Championship Finals take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, with over 10,000 expected to attend. The playoffs will be at the University of Southern California’s Galen Center starting Sept. 15.

Riot’s expanding from last year, when the finals were at the Galen Center with over 7,000 spectators there in person and over 8.2 million viewers between online and TV viewing, according to Gamespot.

Will this lead to the players of other games getting recognized as athletes by the U.S. government? Looking forward to the Mario-playing representatives from Italy.

Watch the full interview with Riot Games’ Nick Allen and Whalen Rozelle below on the “League of Legends” tournament:

(Hat tip: The Mary Sue)

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