In his first article the Superior KESPA fan displays his excellence by breaking down some of the unexplored issues of the Xsmithie inability to compete, allocating criticism and further implications for the game. He then rather unintuitively writes a paragraph talking about his article while explaining that he is a great a guy. Be warned this is a dry topic
The CLG visa issue is an interesting one as it highlights an issue that very few people ever really seem to acknowledge. The whole competitive gaming space is affected massively by global and social issues and no matter how much we yell and scream about the “legitimacy of esports”. This remains the case. Competitive gaming almost died a death in 2008/9 due to a global meltdown and a number of scandals all across the globe, all the major titles are now irreversible linked to the business decisions of their publishers who may or may not kill the game for business reasons. Heck players may end up completely marginalised forever because they can’t own their own gameplay and may never do so which theoretically has massively imaging right implications which is how athletes often make money.
But I digress, the interesting thing about the CLG visa issue is that it’s not clear why this happened, Xsmithie is a jungler from the Philippines and has been to Korea, surely it can’t be that difficult to get visas right? Especially after riot made visas all legit for everyone. Not really technically all riot did was hire a retainer and used this person to get P-1 visas into the US and they weren’t the first to do it, that honor belongs to Jason Lake owner of complexity gaming. So this is the mountain riot actually climbed and while it was a great achievement and deserved praise, it did get massively misrepresented by the mainstream gaming media. Here are what I view are the main causes.
European political landscape
The first road block in the visa road is the fact that worlds this year is happening in Europe, now for those of you who don’t know Europe is currently being scrutinised for mischaracterising the Syrian refugee crisis as an “immigration crisis”, one of the biggest proponents of this message is the British Prime Minister David Cameron the country where all the quarter finals are being held. I imagine it’s extremely hard to get a visa for any countries in Europe at the minute and this is no-ones fault and esports doesn’t have enough money to isolate itself from politics like most sports can and doesn’t have a political presence to defend its interests like say the Olympics can.
As far as I can tell Xsmithie would have required at least 2 visas to participate at worlds – a British one and a Schengen one – this issue is compounded by the fact that Xsmithie is a Filipino living in the US and not traveling back to his native country for months at a time. A full strength CLG probably would likely leave groups and get to London. The issue arises due to the conservative government that wants to stop immigration entirely to the point where it is flirting with an EU exit (for this as well as other issues). Riot is to blame for this as they have insisted on putting a tournament over multiple countries and have historically ignored the issues caused by the British visa system. The reasons why other team aren’t affect as much is probably due to KESPA having a political presence (should be pointed out that Korea is a first world while the Philippines aren’t which seems to affect the ease of visa access) and china having money while Taiwan probably can apply normally as those guys don’t travel so it’s probably was easier as there is an interaction between traveling to other countries with a visa and having to return to live in your own country for a while, I don’t know the nuance of this interaction but it does exist. Also there are extensive treaties in place for EU/NA travel and to make it easy for short term travel.
Visas take a long time to clear usually, a friend of mine has waited two and a half months for a Canadian visa, it should be noted that this was a 2 year work visa but the bureaucracy involved in visa procurement is massively time consuming. I imagine the time factor multiplies when you have to contact the Philippines consul for assistance as I’m not sure how you apply for a work visa living in the US as a Philippines national, CLG is probably training in Korea on tourist visa’s which are easier to have. Now this issue is probably the fault of CLG but in all fairness I can’t be too critical as they only qualified for worlds and have a very limited time to get paperwork sorted. Riot could also make the down time for worlds longer but that would probably have longer reaching production implications for the company as they want worlds to happen before they go into the next season which possibly hurts the game as a whole. Another solution is to shorten the season but western players already play a significantly smaller amount of games then their Asian counter parts so this solution would hasten the west’s decline.
So in conclusion the visa issue is an unfortunate result of a multitude factors that nobody in the industry can control, there is a certain amount of fault to be laid at both Riot’s and CLG’s feet as neither have clearly planned for these factors.
Riot has put on an event the three largest European countries without considering the entry requirements to those countries, now they have done this clearly so the product is more impressive at the cost of competitive integrity. To be fair to riot they have no control over these entry requirements but they do not plan for them.
CLG after years of working with Riot should know of the company’s failings even if they cannot acknowledge them publically they should still plan for them. Especially since they had the same issue with the same player earlier this year with IEM.
The inability for either party to acknowledge that the flaws in the current system is also another issue which both are to blame, if they cannot acknowledge it in any way shape or form then how on earth is it going to be fixed. I personally think that this event (and the TDK visa issues) may have further reaching consequences, we may be embarking into an era where the player’s ability and ease to travel will affect employment prospects which hurts the whole scene because talent and an ability to be cohesive with teammates should be the only factor on decision to acquire talent.