League of Legends Championship Series is Now a US Sport

World's most popular game becomes the first game to be recognized officially as a sport, competitive players can now get US visas like other athletes.

News flows from twitter today about the United States' newest official sport: League of Legends Championship Series, LCS for short.  The popular MOBA may be the largest and most heavily competitive game in the world, and tends to be an excellent team ESport, but now it has become the first game ever to be officially recognized as a sport.

This news comes smack in the middle of the second half of the LCS's third competitive season. As such, it likely won't have too much of an effect on this season, which is ends August 31st. It may shift the waters a little, but most teams should be intact.  It does, however, have several interesting ramifications on the future of ESports, and could drastically change the shape of next year's LCS, with teams representing countries and not just themselves or a few sponsors.

A competitive game of LoL generally looks like this.

The biggest part of this news comes from the fact that the Unites States now considers LCS on par with the likes of the NBA, NFL, and NHL.  This means that foreign athletes can now get US work visas to come play for a US team. If other countries don't follow suit and classify League as a sport soon, the US might have a pretty stacked deck come next Championship Series.

This announcement puts the future of ESports, and not just League of Legends, in a very interesting position. Where does gaming go from here? Will we see other ESports becoming full on national sports?  Will the 2016 Olympics have a gaming or ESports category? Only time will tell, but the future of ESports took a very interesting turn today, and I for one can't wait to see where it goes.

Published Jul. 12th 2013

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