Visa issues are nothing new for professional esports, standing as a constant irritation for tournament organizers and organizations alike as they try and keep up with the hectic, global competitive schedule. But in the span of just two weeks, irritation has given way to absurdity as CSGO has seen major competitors forced to use stand-ins for large tournaments.
Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte of Evil Geniuses was forced to miss two matches at EPICENTER 2019 due to a “random visa issue,” according to Evil Geniuses coach Chet “ImAPet” Singh. Brehze couldn’t participate in EG’s first matches against forZe and mousesports, which saw the team turn to HellRaisers player Igor “crush” Shevchenko to serve as a stand-in.
The tournament still started well for EG as they scored a 2-0 win over forZe but things took a sharp turn as EG was handled by mouz with ease, getting swept to the tune of 16-11 and 16-4.
Brehze returned for the Geniuses’ decider match against forZe but was seemingly out of practice as EG lost 2-1 in the rematch with the Russians. Although EG would get an impressive 2-1 win versus Natus Vincere in the quarterfinals, Brehze didn’t look like himself in that matchup either.
This isn’t a new situation, and it’s not the first time it’s happened this month. At last week’s CS Summit 5, mousesport’s Finn “karrigan” Anderson ran into a similar issue. In an unprecedented move, karrigan was forced the leave the tournament one map into mouz’s grand final match against G2 Esports.
To make matters worse, the team was already playing with Niels Christian “NaToSaphiX” Sillassen, who was standing in for woxic due to his own visa issues. Luckily for mouz, head coach Allan “Rejin” Petersen stepped in for the in-game leader.
Teams and tournament organizers are forced to apply for P1 visas, often known as an athlete’s visa, for their players and competitors. The requirements for these visas vary from country to country, which has led to countless troubles over the years.
These issues are going to persist so long as tournament organizers force esports players to live a jet setting lifestyle.
Luckily, some countries are taking action. Germany just announced a dedicated esports visa program starting in the spring of 2020 that will fast-track the process for pro players.
As for EG, the team is set to play mousesports once again on December 22 for a grand finals spot at EPICENTER 2019. While the odds favor mousesports, EG has a serious chance if Brezhe shakes off his visa situation.