Visa issues persist ahead of ALGS Championship

Five teams will be forced to use stand-ins at July’s Apex Legends Global Series Championship due to visa issues.... Benjamin Mock | 29. June 2022

Five teams will be forced to use stand-ins at July’s Apex Legends Global Series Championship due to visa issues. One team will miss the tournament altogether.

Luminosity became the latest team to announce they would be fielding stand-ins at the tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina after Luis Enrique “Neazul” Ramos Suarez and Saul “YanYa” Ocampo were unable to obtain visas for the United States.

Multiple visa issues plague ALGS Championship

EA would have likely hoped for a smoother run-up for their first truly international season-ending Apex Legends tournament. However, there has been little positive press as teams contend with the aforementioned visa issues, as well as a reduced capacity for professional players to practice.

However, the inability to obtain US visas has been the most pressing issue. Luminosity is just the latest team to suffer from this.

On June 27th, Team Empire withdrew from the tournament after their entire roster failed to obtain visas. The ongoing war in Ukraine has meant that both GMT Esports and FA Kitties will be forced to field stand-ins. Two Asian teams were also affected, with DreamFire unable to secure visas for their two Chinese players while Lightning Unicorn were forced to replace two of their Thai players.

However, perhaps the most bizarre case that has come to light so far is that of Element 6’s Ali Naghz Naghawi. Typically, British players would have minimal issues acquiring a US visa due to the ESTA program which allows ease of travel between the two nations. The issue stems from a family trip Naghz took to Iran in 2013. Iran is one of a handful of destinations that invalidates one’s ESTA eligibility, if the trip was taken after March 2011. Naghz was unable to schedule an appointment for an expedited visa and thus will miss the tournament entirely.

The case of Luminosity, who became the sixth team to announce visa-related disruptions on June 28, is particularly egregious. Neazul and YanYa were unable to acquire visas, despite living in Mexico. This means that Luminosity, a North American organization, will be forced to use stand-ins at a North American event.

ALGS Championship tainted?

The ALGS Championship was supposed to be the event that EA and Respawn had been working towards for the best part of three years. Apex Legends’ esports scene is still arguably finding its feet and the successful execution of a major international event would have been a vital step in establishing its legitimacy.

But it’s hard to argue that a dark cloud will hang over the event when it gets underway on June 7.

Header: Alexisrael, Electronic Arts