It’s not very often that an American esports player moves to Europe to compete. In Call of Duty, it hadn’t happened until Eric “TwiZz” Servello left for Paris, France last month to join up with the Vitality roster competing in the European Call of Duty World League. Unfortunately, TwiZz’s time in Paris was short lived and he is already on his way back home to the United States.
The move to France was surprising to many, considering TwiZz was not currently playing for a Pro Division team and had not made much of an impact in the Call of Duty scene since last year. TwiZz himself revealed that he was caught off guard when he first made contact with members of Vitality who sought him out on Twitter.
“We continued to speak on Skype, and then it just happened. We discussed the living situation and salary and everything seemed great. Next thing, [I was] on my way to Paris,” TwiZz told Dexerto in an interview.
While in Paris, TwiZz lived with two other members of Vitality, Wailers “Wailers” Locart and Clément “RiskiN” Hattée. Though he spent a great deal of time with the team going over strategies and practicing, TwiZz never made an appearance in the Call of Duty World League. This was partially due to his arrival in the middle of Stage 2 which cut close to the roster lock. However, in his interview with Dexerto TwiZz explained, “ESL asked for a visa which we tried to pursue, but the government of France does not have a work visa for esports yet. ESL are asking for a visa that doesn’t exist…. It left me with no choice but to head home because nothing else could be done.”
Visas have long been a problem in esports, which is becoming ever more global, because many countries do not recognize esports in the same way they do sporting events. However, a new bill in France was recently proposed to include esports players as athletes, which would expand upon their rights. Currently, esports are regarded in the same way as gambling, which is illegal in France. In the United States, esports players have been recognized as professional athletes since 2013 and just recently, the P1 athlete’s visa was expanded to include players travelling into the country to compete.
TwiZz’s move to France came just around the time that “The Digital Republic Bill” was originally proposed but unfortunately he made the journey too soon. Throughout esports, temporary visa issues have prevented many players and sometimes entire teams from competing. Another recent example in Call of Duty involved Goonjar, who at the time was travelling to California from Canada to play in the Stage 1 relegation tournament with Team Kaliber. Though he had successfully made the trip in the past, Goonjar was held up at customs who would not allow him to fly to the United States because they thought he was travelling for work (this was before the P1 athletic visa went into effect). Team Kaliber were forced to use a substitute and lost their match, subsequently losing their spot in the Call of Duty World League.
Had TwiZz been able to compete with Vitality, their season in the CWL may have gone much different. The popular French team finished Stage 1 with a 7-11 record and managed to avoid relegation to make it back into Stage 2. However, they could not pull out a win until the last day of matches when they defeated Team LDLC, who have also performed quite poorly throughout the season. They finished the season 1-17. Vitality would have used TwiZz at the upcoming Gfinity Summer Masters, but because he could not get a visa they decided to decline the invitation, according to Dexerto.
The probability than another North American Call of Duty player will move to Europe to compete any time soon is low. The top players have no reason to do so and the top teams in Europe have no need to sign a lower tier American player. Unless a significant amount of money is offered, North American players will continue to have more opportunities available to them at home than abroad. But with European Call of Duty on the come-up, expect to see one or two EU teams place in the money this year at the Call of Duty World League Championship. If the competition continues to improve, maybe we will see more international transfers in the next few years.
Josh Billy is a long time Call of Duty fan. To contact him, email [email protected] or find him on Twitter @Orbit_CH3MISTRY.