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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Be Wary, Here be Monsters

Olympians, the preferred kind of monster

Olympic athletes can apparently turn themselves into ball-shriveled abominations with performance enhancing drugs and still be eligible for a visa, but our lovable eSports players, probably only guilty of caffeine abuse (and who isn’t, these days?), get denied entrance at the door? Get out of here!

One thing in particular stood out to me as I researched this article. As much as I look at LoL as a cotton candy spin-off/rip-off of DOTA, Riot has been very active in rooting out the visa issues plaguing its players. They conducted an independent audit of visa issues surrounding their Championship Series, and I believe that it’s largely thanks to their involvement that so many of their players have been issued P1 visas, which are usually reserved for traditional “professional athletes.”

How long do we have to wait for recognition in this joint???
How long do we have to wait for recognition in this joint??? /

As far as I know, the first pro-DOTA P1 athlete visa was issued on July 6th of this year to three Swedish players on team compLexity: Chessie, Limmp, and Handsken. The International has been going on for six years now. How has it taken this long for DOTA to be recognized as a legit sport? And why hasn’t Valve been raising the eSports banner more vocally for our players? Why do we have to look to friggin’ Riot Games to lead the way in eSports recognition and fair treatment?

Opposite of Riot, Valve seems to be advocating for our beloved eSport as little as possible. If I didn’t know how their company was run, I might be concerned that this was a case of self-sabotage, but I’m afraid it’s far worse than that. I honestly believe it’s just ineptitude.

A perfect example of this can be found in their instructions to TI6 participants. Apparently, Valve recommended applying for B1/B2 visas (business/tourist visas). It strikes me as hugely incompetent that the governing body of the largest DOTA tournament of the year advised applying for a kind of visa no longer considered sufficient by US immigration.

What can be done?

Action has already been taken by fans in the form of a White House petition, which led to a statement being released in response. The statement basically said, “We’re not excluding you, even if we aren’t issuing you the visas you desire.” That’s not a direct quote. It’s my paraphrase of the roundabout, garbage non-statement Washington is known for. Thankfully, things finally seem to be turning around, even if it is at a snail’s pace.

"Eventually" just isn't good enough for me.
“Eventually” just isn’t good enough for me. /

But it’s too late for TI6 to be unaffected by these long-known visa issues. LGD Gaming position 4 player, September, announced on his Weibo account that he will not be able to attend this year’s International due to visa complications. LGD was even invited to play in the tournament. How insulting! “We’re going to invite you, but then we aren’t going to help you get the piece of paper required to get in the door. See ya.

But it’s not only LGD suffering under the weight of this injustice. SEA teams Execration (wildcard) and TNC (qualified team) are both struggling to get their papers in order for TI6. For as much money as Valve makes off DOTA, you would think they would want to nurture their moneymaker instead of pushing it like a stillborn baby bird from the nest and praying for a strong wind.

UPDATE: position 3 player for Vici Gaming Reborn, Yang, has also been denied a visa and will not be eligible to play at TI6.

RE-UPDATE: teams Execration and TNC have been granted visas and will be attending TI6.