William "Leffen" Hjelte's team, Team SoloMid, has secured a visa that will allow him to compete through the Summer (including EVO) - thanks pvplive. The broader campaign to have all Super Smash Bros. Melee regarded as a legitimate sport will no doubt continue.
The debate around eSports and their legitimacy as 'real' sports is ongoing, though the sheer volume of fans for eSports and the continuing attention the field is earning is seemingly tilting the argument towards a positive conclusion. With the skill levels and professional dedication required to compete at the top of any given eSports field, the arguments for these players to be considered as athletes is gaining steam.
It's still a grey area, however, and now the Smash Bros. community has instigated a petition to the White House in the US to recognise all eSports as legitimate sports, therefore allowing professional to obtain 'P1' Visas. This is in aid of William "Leffen" Hjelte, who is regarded as one of the elite Super Smash Bros. Melee players in the world. It makes the following case.
This petition arises from an ongoing situation regarding one of the best Super Smash Bros. Melee players in the world, William "Leffen" Hjelte. In 2015, Mr. Hjelte was deported from the United States because he was sponsored by an American company while using a tourist visa, when he needed a work visa. After applying for a P1 Visa, which is what professional athletes use to come to the US, he was denied due to Super Smash Bros. Melee not being recognized as a "legitimate" sport. Competitors in other eSports, such as League of Legends, have been approved for P1 Visas in order to travel to the US and compete. Given the precedent set with League of Legends, other eSports should be considered "legitimate" sports in order to let players come and compete in the United States.
Citing previous precedent is certainly a persuasive start, and the petition needs a little over 40,000 signatures by the end of May. That would take it to 100,000 in total, which would then trigger an official response from the White House within 60 days. If the petition is successful and leads to action it could, potentially, have a notable impact for a number of eSport professionals.
At the moment the Smash Bros. community is liaising on Reddit, and a #FreeLeffen hashtag is being used on Twitter. The petition certainly has positive momentum.
If you want to sign the petition you can do so at the link below. Do you agree with the petition and do you plan to support it?
WOW! Competitive Smash fans sure are dedicated!
These guys and girls are not athletes and never will be. Call it what you want but playing video games is not a sport!
I remember when he got deported, IIRC that tournanent he was going to go to was Big House 5, which I went to and thought it was amazing. I'll sign the petition too. I disagree that Melee should be considered a sport just so he can get in, but he plays this game for a living and should be allowed to travel.
I agree that eSports competitors should be treated like athletes (though I think the law would have to be amended to be clear). However, considering his reputation for being a jerk, I think Leffen makes a bad figurehead for such a movement.
I don't think it matters whether or not it is considered a sport... but whether or not it is legitimate and approved "work"... if other competitive gamers are being approved for these visas, then competitive Smash players should be as well.
I liken "e-sports" competitors more towards something like chess or poker players, not sports players... but "e-competitons" doesn't have the same ring to it.
This is rare, I petition I can see a point in signing for.
@Spoony_Tech You don't need to be an "athlete" to participate in a sportive event. Chess, pocker, Street Fighter and League of Legends are considered sports. ESports need training and (sometimes) teamwork, just like the 'classic' sports. This physical training excuse doesn't work because the sports I listed don't need it. Competitive Smash is just like a fighting game with more unique controls. To me, as long as it is an activity where there's a competitive scene and that requires training, it is a sport. Fighting games in general require a lot of training to move your fingers fast to do some combos without fail and mental training, so you can make your opponent do what you want. Fighting games are like electronic boxing. Boxing is a sport, and some electronic games are sports, so why can't competitive Smash be a sport?
@Kogorn733 It's not just Leffen, it's the idea to prevent any future similar incident. And, while Leffen might not be the nicest guy, I think deporting him is way too harsh.
Well, [word that rhymes with truck]. I didn't know things could get this serious with pro gaming.
Despite the ridiculousness surrounding much of the modern Melee community and disregarding the argument concerning whether or not "eSports" are actual sports, if playing League of Legends allows for that type of Visa, why shouldn't playing Smash Bros. (which also has a large and recognized competitive scene, albeit smaller and more obscure than League of Legends, to be sure) allow for the same?
For those who reject this matter simply because their idea of what "sport" means doesn't line up with playing video games, consider that this word is an aphetic of "disport", meaning "an amusing pastime".
@Parkour_LMan Chess isn't a sport either. Its a board game. Just because you need teamwork and stratagy doesn't make it a sport. If you go that route then if you work at an office and you have a team any project you work on is a sport. Sports to me and forever will be someone that has to train and shape their bodies to do something the average person couldn't even dream of.
@Spoony_Tech Neither are Poker, Pool, Nascar or Chess player, but they still get "athlete" visas.
@1SDAN I'm not disagreeing with this petition I'm just saying it's ridiculous to call a hobby like playing chess or video games a sport. Competition doesn't always have to be considered a sport.
@Spoony_Tech I agree with you. While I think he should be approved in this case if LoL players have been getting approval, I'm very hesitant to call gaming a "sport". It's a well known competition, but it is not a "sport".
I don't understand why people say this is to not be taken seriously (or call the players losers).
Look at it as some who provides 'entertainment' with their skill that makes it engaging/enjoyable to watch (For those that like watching, because I know others don't like watching others play games)
@MitchVogel Sport, noun: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
Moving your fingers quicker and more precisely is absolutely physically exerting to those who lack dexterity. Fighting games require the same use of technique, skill. and timing that I use in real martial arts.
@DiscoGentleman I don't know why people are so caught up in semantics. My best guess is that you have people who aren't skilled in fighting games or competitive games in general who are ignorant to what separates skill player from an average one. However what can't be argued is that if League already set the precedent, then this is a no-brainer.
@Tsurii They don't just play it more. They play it better. You wouldn't say the same for basketball or soccer. MLB players don't simply play baseball more than your average fan.
Signed. I'm not usually one for doing petitions, but in this case I think if someone needs to travel abroad to compete in whatever sort of entertainment events they compete in for a living then they should be able to get the visa to do so.
@Spoony_Tech In order for it to be a sport does it have to have a physical aspect? To me soccer or hockey is nothing more then a hobby or a game. I have no interest in watching it yet that does not invalidate the the efforts of the players or the interest in the fans.
Sure, I support eSports in general, and enjoy them over traditional sports.
I thought they were already considered athletes by US law and therefore, are ellligable for visas
You kids don't know the facts. Melee can and should be considered a sport. Chess is considered a sport, and Melee is plenty more physically demanding than chess. Also, this athlete visa that Leffen is trying to obtain - professional league of legends players are able to receive this with no problems whatsoever.
According to ZeRo the law is about "sports" and it's mostly up to the discretion of the person reviewing your Visa application to decide if "eSports" counts as sports.
A sponsored League of Legends players would likely have the companies sponsoring them use their influence to ensure their players get the Visa, but it's harder for a single person in a smaller game like Melee.
Whether gaming can be considered a sport or not is entirely up to one's personal definition. Many things are called sport without requiring physical training. Even traditional sports, like basketball or soccer, technically do not require any training. I can go play a game in the park, and I'd be playing a sport, even if I had no training, and even if I was terrible at it. Personally, I think a sport is something competitive, with objective goals. I'd probably add to that that sports are typically things you do for fun, even if the best players make jobs of them. Under this definition competitive gaming could be called a sport.
That really applies to all sports. Football, soccer, and basketball players make millions because people enjoy watching other people, people who are particularly good at their sport, play a game. In the case of esports, I didn't see the appeal either (I generally don't find watching sports in general very appealing), until I watched the competitions at Nintendo's last two E3's. They were genuinely fun to watch.
@Lizuka What is a "real job" then?
@Rob_mc_1 "In order for it to be a sport does it have to have a physical aspect?"
Well, dictionary has answer to your question. Check it out.
I just love some of these comments whenever there's a news article about competetive Melee.
I hope he gets enough signatures.
"eSports and the continuing attention the field is earning"
Isn't it actually decreasing, considering that one of the biggest (StarCraft) just died?
Also, this guy should be happy that he only got deported, because for what he did they should ban him by law from getting another visa for at least 5 years.
This situation only shows what ignorant and total nolife this guy is and he should stay in mother's basement. And what sheep people are signing it.
I mean, it's obvious that he didn't tell his mom everything and what he will be doing in US (because I don't believe he applied himself for it nor he is that stupid to actually apply for the turist visa knowing he will go there to make money), and now for the whole situation he blames everyone else, except himself.
I mean, wow, what a responsible guy.
@Spoony_Tech Chess is a sport.
He got a B2 visa, when he was required a H1 visa. I doubt he didn't know he needed a work visa beforehand. He was just trying to find the loophole in the policy. And then he tried to apply for P1 visa. I'm guessing the company sponsored him wouldn't want to give him an invitation letter so he could get a B1. This guy didn't do enough work for himself so he could stay legally. And now he wants to get around it again by using internet?
What is a real job? And what is a real (traditional) athletes? Legally, if people want to get P1 visa, it's easier for them if they are professional athletes. Each country has its own policies on getting the professional athlete title recognized by official/government organizations. Most of the time, being professional athletes means people have to compete in official games. It's not just a random game in the park. A group of elementary school soccer team will have a much harder time to get P1 visa than a group of Olympic players.
But what defines e-sports professional players? I can be really good at a competitive game like SSB, but there's not many official organizations to recognize this and give me a title. I can call myself a professional player, but not everyone else will agree with me. E-sports is a new thing and not many people understand it. It has a much smaller audience group and revenue value comparing to traditional sports. It bonds to meet all kinds of resistance.
@ThomasBW84 You may want to update the article because Team SoloMid(TSM) and Red Bull, Leffen's sponsors just secured him a temporary visa today. They are still fighting for this petition to get pushed through though.
If playing games were a sport, EA would have made a game about it already and released it on all gaming consoles and PCs, minus Nintendo (or course).
I'm sorry - although I heavily sympathize with this guy and his cause, I just cannot take anyone that honestly wants to consider playing video games an official sport seriously. It's just not a sport.
If Melee or any other video game is to be considered an official 'sport', then that will only lead to more problems and controversy down the line.
Because then what should and shouldn't be considered a sport? Will playing Minecraft be a sport? Facebook games? What if people want to organize tournaments playing mobile farming simulators? You can't then say that that shouldn't count, because if so, you'd be the same as people claiming playing Melee isn't a real sport.
There are few people in the Smash community I appreciate less than Leffen, but his Visa situation is still bullcrap. Hopefully it'll be all worked out sooner rather than later.
@Spoony_Tech I agree, "game" and "sport" are used far too interchangeably.
If it hasn't already been posted Leffen's sponsor, Team Solo Mid, was able to secure a short term visa for him that lasts through July, so he can attend EVO 2016.
@Knuckles Awesome, thanks for the heads up. I've added an update.
If you don't get why anyone would watch eSports just think if you watch anything at all that you did not do yourself. If the answer is yes you shoudl understand.
It is entertainment. If you don't enjoy it that does not mean someone else might not enjoy it.
Sad to see gamers thinking that this is silly. We are supposed to be the ones that push our hobby forward.
Why it's so hard for them to call it, I don't know, BIDEO GAEMZ CONTEST? Or just simple contest, because too much words?
Don't try to shoehorn sport to something that is not sport simply by the DEFINITION. There are other words that fit, like contest.
I guess it's the word way too long for those people.
They're called "esports" because they aren't sports. Even if that wasn't the case it wouldn't matter anyway and no one should care
You keep talking about definitions.
1.an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.
2. a particular form of this, especially in the out of doors.
3. sports, (used with a singular verb) such athletic activities collectively:
Sports is important in my life.
4. diversion; recreation; pleasant pastime.
5. jest; fun; mirth; pleasantry:
What he said in sport was taken seriously.
6. mockery; ridicule; derision:
They made sport of him.
7. an object of derision; laughingstock.
While some of them specify Athletic and physical activities once you get into number 4 video games could count.
The word sport was around well before computers and as time passes definitions change. To me the difference between a game and a sport is passion.
None of that has anything to do with something being a sport. Soccer is no less a sport if played unpaid by people who have never trained. Besides, while there is obviously more risk in traditional sports (some more than others; does that make some sports more of a sport than others?), to become and remain professional requires many hours of practice, whether you're playing basketball or Smash Bros. You could say that the training is harder in traditional sports, but either way, you're practicing a game.
Again, that also applies to traditional athletes. They get paid to play games, because they're good at the games and/or they work hard at the games. They're still being paid for their "hobbies" (or do you think they didn't play for fun before going pro?). The only difference between that and esports is how much you use your whole body.
There's a difference between calling something a sport, and making a career out of it. If enough people want to watch it, doing literally anything can make money. If I had a million people who wanted to watch me sit in a chair everyday, that could be a career in entertainment (which is really what professional sports are). It's based purely on demand. As I keep saying, whether you're pro sports or pro-esports, you're getting paid to play a game because you're good at it and people want to watch you play. If that's what you take issue with here, you should take it up with the NFL.
Sports were largely created for recreation and entertainment. I consider Smash to be a mental sport for the most part, like Chess. Whoever can outwit their opponent wins. They don't require any physical training, sure, but the passion and dedication to compete is still there. This is why I love smash and other e sports. You aren't limited to your physical ability. You are limited by how hard you mentally train. It puts everyone on an equal playing field. People with disibilities can still play Smash for the most part, and they don't have to compromise to compete. I don't care if its a real sport, but I would love to see Leffen and others to get a Visa so they can continue what they love to do.
I don't care whether it's sport or not - Melee-players should get the same treatment as those playing League of Legends.
@Spoony_Tech Chess is considered a sport by the government. So yes, it is a sport. Body is not everything. Training, physically or mentally, makes you better at something. Training your brain is basically the same thing. What you described are "athletes", not "sportive people". Competition is a sport when it's an activity where you become better by having effort and that can be picked up by everyone. Chess and playing are hobbies when you don't compete in events. Chess is considered universally a sport, so naming it a hobby is also objectively wrong.
I knew @Spoony_Tech was going to get tons of responses and flak when I read their initial comment. You knew that, too, didn't you? Hehe! And for the record, I agree with you in that I also don't consider video games to be a sport. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, including myself, and that's what it is. Video games a sport...
@Spoony_Tech @c1pher_c0mplet But it's not called a sport. It's esport. Just like driving a car is not called a sport, it's autosport. Same stuff there, but people always complain about games called sport when no one is trying to call them sport, everyone is calling it esport, which it is.
@ErnisDy Read the second 2 paragraphs and tell me they aren't trying to make it a actual sport. I'm just going by what the article is saying and when you use the term athletes and make all eports a sport. For crying out loud Leffen is here on a sports visa as an athlete. There no esports written on that visa.
@Rob_mc_1 Wow. I mean wow. I don't know what to say actually, because what you just said and showed is so sad, something inside me died.
That's what happens when you skip school I guess.
@Senario try holding a rifle - it's not NES zapper, no kidding. Also, there are many types of shooting, like while skiing. Chess is not sport, it's competition/contest.
"And it is highly impossible to change the word for something once it has been coined"
Another one who skipped school. From where are you coming, people?
Through the ages, languages changed, just like meaning of the words and for those it didn't even take ages, but years.
Another earth shattering fact for you would be that there are many types of dictionaries, and yes, those have definitions of selfies etc.
Also, you can't even comprehend what you are reading or even writing.
Esport is more appropriate than sport, just like we call electronic mail email, but goddamn, let's not kid ourselves, gamer should not be called athlete, because it doesn't fit.
@Dave24 I never skipped school. Tell you what when you find out what you want to say other then doubting my ability to reason then post it here. You saying that you cannot articulate you thoughts gives me nothing to work with.
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