Brazilian eSports team Brave eSports has been denied visas to travel to the US, and will not be able to compete in the Heroes of the Storm Americas Championship on September 19th.
After winning its local qualifier, Latin American champion Brave needed to pass their biggest test yet: obtaining a United States visa.
Not all countries have access to the ESTA visa waiver that Australia enjoys. For those countries, visas can be somewhat of a pain in the neck, as they require you to prove you have enough of an attachment to your home country that you won't illegally outstay your welcome. This means family, school, jobs, community involvement, investments, businesses, are all important. But what do you do if you're young and play HOTS for a living?
The rejection means Brave misses out on glory and a potential crack at a combined $US100,000 prize pool. Brave was schedule to play against Complexity first up, and could have met Australia's Team Immunity later in the competition. Now, its spot will likely be filled by a local team.
Below is a translation of Brave eSports' full statement, which we've edited to make more readable:
Hello, Brave Lions! I'm here to bring sad news for everyone that cheered for us and follows Brazilian eSports. We inform that the visas of the players for the America Championship were denied by the US consulate and our players won't be able to participate in the tournament. That's right, the US consulate denied the visas claiming that the players didn't have enough links/ties with Brazil, even with the letter from Blizzard, paid plane tickets, a paid hotel, signed contracts and full itinerary. It was in vain. They didn't read anything. The small mind that interviewed us said that we were too young and we didn't have enough attachment with our country, like some big job or academic prestige/diploma. They said it in front of our players, which undermined their own achievement of becoming the best players in Latin America and had greatly helped the local HotS scene. They didn't deserve this kind of treatment after all their sacrifice. Our organization helped the players as much as possible, giving them the best possible structure to practice before the tournament. They also worked behind the scenes, trying their best to help them get their visas. We hired and worked directly with a specialised company which got the visa interview in 9 days. We did everything we could in such a short time and time wasn't the problem here. The situation in our country is critical, being the reason why it is currently harder to get visas. I want to praise the Lions — all players are fantastic and deserve to be on our team. They are going through a rough moment and having second thoughts about their future in HotS. This is the time they need you the most, our community. The players knew that the result they could've gotten would directly impact the investments which Blizzard could bring to Latin America for the next year, every one of us were fully engaged and that just grows our lament, after all the team was prepared and at the highest level of the game. Here is to hoping that e-sports gets more respect as it should and a more serious treatment in every part of our society. Here also stays our feedback to Blizzard, hoping they do a good use of it, so cases like ours won't happen again. We will not give up, our walk continues. Tiago "Thongar" Sans
I'm not sure exactly what Brave is referring to with regards to the "situation" in its country being the cause. It's more likely that the US simply thought they'd stay after the competition was over and take all the jerbs.
It's a process that Riot has been seemingly getting better at, and there have been encouraging movements as the US does now recognise eSports as a legitimate reason for a sporting visa. Though it seems that sporting visas were not what Blizzard asked Brave to apply for, instead opting for the standard B1/B2 travel visa.