Skip to main content

What are Esports?

Esports, short for electronic sports, is one of the world’s largest growing sports and achieved nearly USD $1.4 billion in revenue and had over half a billion viewers in 2022.

Unlike many other sports, the barriers to entry can be attributed to what attracts such a large audience as all you need is a stable internet connection and the gaming platform of your choice to start working your way to the pro leagues.

Among the top-performing gaming companies, there are names like Nintendo, Activision, Electronic Arts and Tencent Games. Also appearing on that list is Riot Games, who Sports Visa Lawyers have successfully worked with in the past. Like any other sport, Esports consists of players, coaches, staff and other essential personnel that are required to perform at the top levels. Companies like ESL Gaming and other tournament organisers provide platforms for athletes and teams to compete to win significant prize money in front of both in-person and online audiences.

At present, the most popular games in the world are DOTA 2, Counter Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO), Fortnite, League of Legends, Valorant, Call of Duty and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Platforms like Twitch and YouTube allow for the viewer to not only view live streams of competitions but also interact with athletes, trainers and other staff on personal levels that are not seen in other sports. Esports players can live stream and create content to form a deep connection with their audience whilst also promoting the sport and the organisation they play for. Top organisations include FaZe Clan, TSM, 100 Thieves, Cloud9 and G2 Esports. This is why the sport is predicted to continue growing to a projected $5.48 billion US dollars in 2029. [1]

Esports is a global phenomenon (except in Australia)

In the United States, the inclusion of the P-1A visa for Esport professionals has been introduced. This visa allowed internationally recognisable professional gamers to apply for a visa that will permit them to stay in the US for up to 5 years to compete and earn money whilst doing so. Similarly in Europe, Germany has also introduced an Esports visa and has demonstrated that it is an internationally recognized hub for Esports. This visa allows for Esports players and training staff to compete in tournaments and train in Germany for the duration of the event. Unlike its counterparts in North America and Europe, Australia lags behind in its recognition of Esports and its athletes. This issue was highlighted in 2019 when a member of FaZe Clan was not granted his visa in time to compete at the International Extreme Masters (IEM) in Sydney. FaZe NiKo (Nikola Kovac) was impacted by the Australian immigration system when he was unable to participate in the IEM and was forced to leave his team a man down in a crucial tournament with potential prize money valued at USD 250,000. Although it has proven difficult for Esports athletes to enter Australia in the past, we believe that the sport is gaining continued recognition in Australia and has the potential to be one of the more popular sports.

In Australia, Esports is showing continued growth with Melbourne hosting a myriad of events. including the 2023 Pokemon Oceania International Championships at the Convention and Exhibition Centre last month. Melbourne is also hosting Dreamhack at Rod Laver Arena this April, bringing one of the world’s largest gaming festivals to Australia. The Melbourne Esports Open is also hosted annually, which offers a platform for Oceanic teams to compete for prize money as well as upcoming players to compete and make a name for themselves. There are even venues being built for the more casual players who like to have fun whilst gaming as well, such as Esports bars and venues like the GG EZ Bar in Melbourne and Fortress gaming bar in Sydney/Melbourne. With Esports on the continued rise in Oceania and Australia being a key member of this region, Australia’s future in the Esports industry is bright. Major Esports events like the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM), an international Esports league, and other leagues returning globally post covid we hope to see the IEM and similar events return to Australia. With such events on the horizon, it looks like Australia’s visa system is lagging behind when it comes to Esports athletes and events.

What is the subclass 408 visa and how does it help Esports athletes compete in Australia lawfully?

The subclass 408 visa is a multi-entry visa that allows individuals to enter Australia to perform specific types of work on a short-term, temporary basis, and if the individual needs to stay over three months, the visit must be sponsored by an approved organisation. The subclass 408 visa contains a Sporting Activities Stream, which allows athletes to travel to Australia and compete in well-known international and Australian events. Although Esports athletes may not be viewed as traditional athletes by the Australian Government, the similarities are there when it comes to attendance, viewership and revenue as a sport globally. In the United States, Esports is projected to have more viewers than every other sport besides the NFL and only continues to grow!

The subclass 408 visa allows individuals to perform specific types of work on a short-term, temporary basis totalling no more than 3 months. The processing time for a subclass 408 visa can be relatively quick, taking between just 2 to 34 days for most applications. For prospective Esports competitors, the applicants will need to demonstrate they have the skills to undertake the activity to be carried out in Australia and have been invited by an approved organisation or individual. Whilst in Australia, the visa applicant will only be able to participate in the approved event/s that they applied for under their subclass 408 visa.

Trainers, coaches and tournament/organisation staff

With all the similarities between traditional sports and Esports, it is only a matter of time before Esports are recognised by the Australian Government and will be a prominent pathway for Esports athletes to enter Australia. The subclass 408 visa allows an athlete to bring an essential trainer or coach that is pivotal to their success, allowing them to accompany the team and ensure that they are best prepared for their tournaments ahead. To use a recent, although unlikely, example for the purpose of the proximity of these events, if you were looking to compete at the 2023 Pokemon Oceania International Championships in February and attend Dreamhack in April 2023 to compete again, the subclass 408 visa will allow you to enter Australia for both occasions to compete or allow you to stay in Australia with your coach and team for the duration of the events, so long as the visa does not exceed 3 months in total.

The busy schedules of those working in the sports industry can make complying with local immigration laws even more of a challenge. Working with immigration lawyers who understand these complexities can make the process significantly easier.

Sports Visa Lawyers can help athletes legally compete in Australia

If you’re an athlete, coach, team, or league and are curious about sports-related immigration to Australia, Sports Visa Lawyers — as experts in Australian immigration — can guide you in identifying the best immigration pathways to bring people over.

Factors such as licenses, commission rules and local sporting body support can be challenging to coordinate, and that’s precisely where we come in. Through our contacts and expertise, we can escalate the processing of applications to ensure that all sportspeople can enter Australia comfortably and without issue, in time for their competitions and events.

With a personal passion for sports, we’re dedicated to making the process as smooth as possible whatever your speciality. If you have any questions about the above, contact one of our offices or connect with us via FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, or Twitter!