TI6 Visas: Valve, Where are You?

The yearly visa rigmarole begins while Valve twiddles their thumbs.
The yearly visa rigmarole begins while Valve twiddles their thumbs. /
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TI6 visas have been fraught with complications this year, much like previous years. Several players may be unable to play due to unaddressed visa issues.

The problem here is much larger than a single player, team, or sport being denied a visa to participate in an eSporting event here in the “land of the free.” I know there’s a fair amount of bickering between the fans of various eSports (especially MOBAs), but where the law’s concerned, what affects one affects us all. There have been visa complications for tournaments for Smash Bros. Melee, League of Legends, Counter Strike, and the emerald centerpiece of the eSports crown, DOTA.

F and A, neither am I, Ron.
Effin’ A, neither am I, Ron. /

This isn’t anything new. As far back as TI2, ComeWithMe was barred admission into the country thanks to absurd visa restrictions. I’d be willing to bet my left hand (I’m left handed, it’s a big deal) that these issues have been ongoing for as long as professional eSports competitions have been a thing. There’s been plenty of talk and a fair amount of outrage, but it seems like we’re still living in 2012 as far as the law’s concerned.

Land of the free, indeed.

That’s terrible! So… big picture, what does this mean?

Yes, it is terrible that some of your favorite teams might be hamstrung by the loss of integral players on their rosters. It’s also terrible that these players have fought tooth and nail all year training their skills to a level that many of us could never match only to be denied not only their chance to leave their mark on gaming history, but also to earn their livelihood. Think about that for a second.

It's never felt better to be a winner.
It’s never felt better to be a winner. /

I’m sure most of you are aware that the prizepool of The International is distributed so that all teams walk away with at least something. By “something,” of course, I mean a minimum of $50,000, if last year is any indication. No, that’s not a period separating those zeroes. Even the lowest ranked three teams of TI5 walked with $55,289, which, considering the minimum of five players per team, coach(es), facility costs, and travel expenses, seems like a paltry number. But what if you were counting on that money?

I haven’t seen any reports of a player or team becoming destitute following a visa denial, but don’t think for a second this doesn’t put serious hardship on players and teams that we love. After all, what are these players and teams supposed to do? Not everyone can pull a Cloud9 and hire an immigration lawyer to cut through the red tape. Better question: what the crap is all this red tape doing here anyway?

Next: Be Wary, Here be Monsters