As a US citizen, it's my sacred duty to hate the US government more than just about anyone, but this is still a pretty monumental occasion. No, an eagle-blood-signed document proclaiming League of Legends pros athletes doesn't make it official in the eyes of culture that absolutely loves its arbitrary labels, but it does grant players some pretty cool rights.
Speaking with GameSpot, Riot eSports manager Nick Allen broke the good news:
“The United States government recognizes League of Legends pro players as professional athletes, and awards Visas to essentially work in the United States under that title. So this is groundbreaking for eSports. Now when [international players] come over, it’s a much easier process because they are actually recognized by the government. It’s a huge thing.”
Apparently it took a whole, whole, whole lot of lobbying on Riot's part. Surprisingly few riots, though.
Meanwhile, speaking with Polygon, Riot VP of eSports Dustin Beck pointed out that this opens up the option for international players to transfer onto US teams. So basically, everybody's now one big, happy, grievous-insult-hurling family.
It really is a big deal though, as these people put in serious work and deserve the recognition that comes with it - even if they don't hit a ball, swing a stick, or walk slightly faster than most people normally walk. So bravo, USGOVT. Now can you tell Texas to stop arresting teenagers for bringing (admittedly awful) LoL trash talk onto Facebook?