Creation of EFight Pass
What is eFight Pass (https://www.efightpass.org/)?
eFight Pass is a program created to help foreign players get their visas to travel to United States and compete in Fighting Game tournaments. With the help of others, we could potentially help the players reach their tournament of choice as well.
What is the Point of eFight Pass?
With Esports growing at an exponential rate, it is no surprise the lengths that Esports has reached globally. Esports and its competitions have already been shown on national television in Asia and North America. However, resources for competitors are still scarce and many are still struggling to become a legitimate professional competitor. As far as the Fighting Game Community goes, most prestigious events are located in the United States, including the grand finals of Street Fighter V's league, Capcom Pro Tour. However, due to our strict immigration laws, many competitors from areas such as Latin America and Africa are unable to participate in North American events, despite having proper credentials. With the Latin American Regional Finals of the Capcom Pro Tour being held in Puerto Rico for 2019, it is imperative that players from Latin America are able to compete. Because Puerto Rico is a United States territory, a visa is required for most foreign competitors to visit. I am hoping that with eFight Pass, we will be able to help those notable players in need and show them that their hard work and passion will not go unnoticed.
How Did eFight Pass Come to Light?
There were a couple instances that led me to believe that action needed to be taken to help our community: Moment #1: My very first trip to Monterrey, Mexico was to compete at Thunderstruck 2018. I have heard many great things about this tournament, including how welcoming the local community members were. As I sat down to play against some locals, I noticed a group of players lining up to run sets against someone. From what I could see through the sliver of view between players' shoulders, was a Laura player, quietly beating up his opponents. After playing my sets, I decided to line up with the rest of the eager players and test how good this Laura player was myself. From the first game versus him, I knew he had to have been one of the best players in this area. I have heard of a strong Laura player from Mexico, this had to to have been El Tigre. He then continued to place third at Thunderstruck, making him the highest placing player outside of Americans.
As a few weeks went by, I messaged El Tigre on Twitter and asked him why he didn't come to America to compete. He would gain more Capcom Cup Pro Tour points and exposure if he did well. He replied that saving up for a visa was too expensive, especially with the risk involved. Generally, a visa would cost roughly $160USD. This is what most people in Latin America usually make in half a month. Not only that, but it is a NONREFUNDABLE fee. If they were to have their applications rejected, they would never see that $160 again. It is basically a high risk gamble, not one most would be willing to take.
The Dominican Republic scene is well known for being one of the strongest scenes in the world with MenaRD winning Capcom Cup in 2017. My first visit to Dominican Republic was eye opening. How could such a small island harbor some of the strongest players in the world? Amongst the Dominican Republic players, there were a few who stood out. Besides Caba and Mena who were already guaranteed their positions in Capcom Cup, Crossover won Latin America's Regional Finals and qualified to be the Latin American representative in Capcom Cup. With two months notice, he applied for his American visa with support by an official letter from Capcom themselves. However, his application was rejected and the news quickly made headlines in the Fighting Game Community. Unfortunately, he was forced to forfeit his position.
Moment #3: While I was in the Dominican Republic for their tournament, I played a lot
of sets with local players, but there was also a Peruvian player, Pikoro, that showed exceptional skill. After losing to Pikoro convincingly, I asked him why he has never come to the United States to compete. Again, I heard "it is very hard to get a visa to travel to USA". A couple months later, he was fortunate enough to receive the qualifying spot in Capcom Cup to represent Latin America and was able to get approved for his visa (I am assuming with the help of Capcom's official letter invitation).
If you would like to find out more information about EFight Pass, head over to the website - https://www.efightpass.org/