An international video games star has been awarded special immigration status so that he can play on a team in the United States.
Danny "Shiphtur" Le, of Edmonton, Canada, is one of the world's top players of League of Legends. He is so good that he recently became the first so-called eSports player to get a visa so that he can now train and compete with his team in Riverside, Calif.
According to the rules of the league, all five members of the team must be gathered together physically when they play.
“It's kind of so big — actually kind of mind-blowing — that there's a demand for visas for League of Legends," Le said, 20.
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Professional competition in League of Legends is serious. Winning teams can take home as much as $1 million in prizes and having the best players is vitally important.
"The elite have great reflexes," said Michael Pachter, a video game analyst with Wedbush Securities. "They're fast and they're good."
In the U.S. bracket of the championship series, eight teams compete against one another at a West Los Angeles TV studio and the games typically draw more than 1.7 million unique viewers online. That is more than most NHL playoff games.
Gaming industry analysts estimate that more than 16 million people in the United States play League of Legends, basically 1 in every 20 Americans, The LA Times reported.
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U.S. officials ruled that the eSports league qualified as a major sports league because it had clearly defined rules and at least six teams with combined revenues of more than $10 million.