Levi and GAM Esports might miss the 2022 League of Legends World championship due to visa issues, after missing MSI to represent Vietnam in the SEA games.
Credit: LoL Esports

Not this again

Update: Vietnamese teams narrowly secure 2022 LoL World Championship access after solving visa issues

After qualifying for the 2022 League of Legends World Championship, Vietnam Championship Series (VCS) representatives GAM Esports and Saigon Buffalo nearly missed the event due to visa issues. However, Riot Games’ intervention allowed them to prevent missing Worlds for the third year in a row.

Update: Sep. 23, 2022 – All VCS representatives will be at Worlds 2022

The saga has ended on the best note: Vietnam’s VCS will send its best teams to Worlds 2022. On Sep. 23, the remaining players without US and Mexican visas have secured them:

The players and head coach conducted further interviews and successfully passed them.

We will keep the previous copy live for people interested in following the timeline of events. The article was initially published Sep. 10, 2022, and Riot Games stepped in quickly.

Sep. 11 update: Riot Games is on the case across the board

In GAM’s case, Riot Games have spoken publicly about the team’s visa issue, and there is hope that the VCS team will make it to Worlds 2022 without issues. As the publisher and tournament organizer, Riot Games’ weight will undoubtedly reverse GAM’s fortunes.

“We’ve been working with the government representatives on VCS visa applications, and we remain hopeful that the VCS champion team, GAM, will be able to participate in Worlds this year,” reads Riot Games’ statement.

That said, GAM’s visa issues ahead of Worlds are bad news for the VCS if they are unable to make it, as it would be the second time that the team would be unable to represent it. Earlier this year, GAM Esports competed in the 2021 Southeast Asian games, which occurred at the same time as the Mid-Season Invitational, and could not attend it.

GAM Esports’ US visa application failed, but there’s still hope

Vietnam’s top-seeded team, GAM Esports, may miss the event as BongdaPlus.vn reports that the team has failed at the visa interview step with the US Embassy in Hanoi. Furthermore, the publication notes that GAM must wait 14 days before reapplying.

However, there is still hope: Riot Games could intervene and support their application. If the publisher has a way to fast-track GAM’s application (possibly get a P-1 professional athlete visa for the duration of Worlds 2022), the top Vietnamese team could attend the event.

As GAM is qualified for the group stage, their Worlds adventure would start during October. The visa setback’s repercussions would be minimal, although the lack of scrimmage time could hurt the Vietnamese team in the short run if it does not secure scrims at late notice.

Update on Sep. 19, 2022: there is progress

GAM Esports have announced on their Facebook page that four members out of six have passed the visa interviews, and that the status of two other members will be known on Sep. 23. The team did not disclose which members’ statuses were pending.

Update on Sep. 21, 2022: GAM are almost through

Other than jungler Levi and head coach Jackie Wind (both of whom will receive an answer on Sep. 23), GAM’s members have all secured their US visas, with several of them announcing the news on their Facebook pages. By the look of it, the hardest part is done.

Saigon Buffalo’s case: much milder horrifying with play-ins looming on Sep. 28

The report from BongdaPlus also notes that Saigon Buffalo does not have a visa to attend the 2022 Worlds play-ins in Mexico. However, the team could obtain a visa for cultural and sports events, the same as a tourist in the host country’s eyes.

As such, the formality would invoke a waiting period of two days to a week at best, but four weeks at worst. Only in this worst-case scenario could Saigon Buffalo miss Worlds in 2022, if they have secured the US visa. Although the Vietnamese team’s US visa application remains unknown, no news is probably good news on that front; if they qualify, they may not have to miss a day. As of Sep. 20, scratch that.

Update on Sep. 20, 2022: Setbacks have emerged

On Sep. 16, Saigon Buffalo’s social media manager and esports journalist Dat Nguyen disclosed that three players and head coach Ren are reapplying for a visa. If the applications fail, SGB’s fortunes will be vastly different as core players BeanJ and Shogun will be unable to attend. In Froggy’s case, SGB’s substitute mid laner, Richard, has secured a visa and could replace him on the lineup.

As is GAM’s case, players have reapplied with Riot Games’ backing, and their status will receive an update on Sep. 23.

Update on Sep. 22, 2022: SGB will have a starting five at worst

Riot Games has greatly helped Saigon Buffalo’s case, and they have solved two out of four visa issues. Indeed, ace AD carry Shogun and jungler BeanJ are ready to make some noise in Mexico City and, if they qualify from the play-ins, New York City.

Head coach Ren and mid laner Froggy’s cases are pending, but there is optimism there.