Video Game Star Gets 'Pro Athlete' Visa

Danny 'Shiphtur' Le crosses over
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2013 10:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you're looking for a sign that e-sports have arrived, look no further than Danny "Shiphtur" Le. The Canadian League of Legends star has just become the first professional video game player ever awarded a P-1A visa, a visa normally reserved for the likes of David Beckham or Ichiro Suzuki, the LA Times reports. Like those players, Le needs to move so he can train and play alongside his new team in Riverside, California.

Immigration officials initially rejected Le's attempts to join a US team, until lawyers for Riot Games, the Santa Monica company that makes League of Legends, intervened. "We had to show this was a profession," a Riot VP explains, "We had to make a case that this is just like Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League." If that sounds crazy to you, consider that the weekly matches LoL broadcasts online draw 1.7 million unique viewers—or about four times what an average NHL game gets. Several other e-sports players have gotten similar visas since Le's victory.

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