How Do Visa Issues Affect ESports Athletes?

ESports is the term that describes competitive and organized video gaming. It can be participated in by both individual players and teams, depending on the nature of the video game relevant to the competition. Players come from all over the world to compete in arenas for prize pools going up to 211 million dollars in 2019. The amount surged significantly from the eSports industry’s roots.

The first recorded competition in eSports history was in October 1972, when students at Stamford University competed on the video game called Spacewar. The grand prize was a year-long subscription to the Rolling Stones magazine. However, the first video game competition was not sensationalized in the media until 1980. That year’s Space Invaders Championship garnered 10,000 individuals to participate. It was a feat for the game attributed to it being a known game at that time.

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How big is the industry?

A previously cited source found that the global eSports market has recorded over three hundred eighty million people all over the globe as eSports spectators. The number includes one hundred sixty-give gaming enthusiasts who differ from occasional viewers. The number consists mostly of audiences from North America, China, and South Korea.

Another article cited stated that 2019 was the year the industry broke the one billion dollar revenue mark. Its growth is attributed to media rights, advertising, and sponsorships. As eSports teams and players are managed by corporations, they are marketed as businesses that are attractive investments.

In fact, the popularity of eSports is predicted to rise to 1.7 billion dollars by the year 2022. According to a previously cited source, the impressive viewership is a direct result of engagement the industry provides to its consumers. Individual players inevitably establish their own fan base because of the large following and engage with their fans through streaming websites for gaming such as Twitch and social media platforms. They are also magnets for brand sponsorships that pay large sums of money for marketing.

What are the downsides faced by eSports?

Competitive gaming teams are famous for procuring international talents. Teams source individual players from all over the globe to gain a competitive advantage. Talents are usually discovered through streaming platforms, with their popularity among the gaming community helping them become professional video gamers.

However, international talent sourcing is not without cost. The billion-dollar industry’s liking to acquiring international talents to make their teams valuable gave way to immigration and travel-related issues. Professional eSports organizations such as Team Liquid, founded in 2002, have experienced a myriad of issues in acquiring appropriate travel documents for their foreign recruits.

In January this year, Team Liquid has faced visa problems during the acquisition of travel documents for three members of their five-man team for the online battle arena video game League of Legends. The setback caused the team to get a sluggish start early into the season.

Like other forms of sports that are participated in by international talents such as basketball, the issue is prevalent and is attributed to existing paperwork required to mobilize players. ESports organizations put in on the inefficient processing of travel documents by authorities. However, big-name teams are managed by million-dollar eSports organizations equipped with immigration lawyers to aid them in solving issues relevant to crossing borders.

Will visa issues persist in the industry?

Gaming as a profession is beginning to get recognized as a legitimate livelihood, mainly because that is what it really is. Like other professionals in medicine and others, being an eSports athlete requires thousands of hours of practice and experience. Esports organizations capitalize on skills they perceive will provide them the advantage they need to win competitions.

However, the eSports industry is not perceived by all as a profession. That can be a direct result of games being made to pass the time and not earn money. Professional eSports athletes continuously contribute to the growth of economies because of their large following. This should be a factor to be considered when weighing the value of the industry and its professionals. It is an industry without any forecasted decrease in value, according to data by games market insights and analytics company Newzoo.

All countries differ in border laws when it comes to taking in foreigners, whatever purpose they may have in being there. It is a typical problem for industries that require constant mobility to flourish. To reduce the instances of setbacks caused by existing regulations, professional eSports organizations shall be responsible for the correct documentation gathering for their players. This way, their members can travel to and from a place without worries.

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