Written by Tom Clarke • Published 24th January 2019 • 4 minute read

Have you heard of the new hybrid between sport and gaming Esport? Reports from UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment trade body) suggested that the UK is the 5th largest video game market with approximately over 30 million players in the UK alone, and it is set to be this years’ next big thing.

Last year provided to be a significant year for the world of Esports, with sell-out stadiums, franchised leagues and confirmed as a sport at the 2022 Asia Games, indicates clear progress has been made, as it now looks to adopt a more traditional sporting model.

So why do we think 2019 will be Esports breakthrough year? We look at the organisations backing the movement and how you can get involved.

Government backing

Over the last several months the government has started to show a real interest in Esports, just before the turn of the year, the government announced plans to pump more than £20m into UK creative industries. As part of that initiative, £200,000 was given to the UK games trade body; UKIE, whose attention focuses on the computing curriculum which includes a school Esports league.

Recently UKIE launched a study that explored how participating in Esports can positively affect children and schools overall. The results were staggering, of more than 2,000 students who took part in the study, over 80% stated they would be more likely to participate in other team sports as a result of taking part in Esport tournaments.

The government has also noted that important skills can be introduced to young people at school via Esport games which will help to bridge the skills gap the country currently faces.

eam of Teenage Gamers Play in Multiplayer PC Video Game on a eSport Tournament. Captain Gives Commands into Microphone, Trying Strategically Win the Game.

ePremier League

2019 has seen the launch of the ePremier League Esports tournament. Created in partnership between EA Sports and the Premier League, all 20 Premier League clubs have opted in and gamers are set to battle it out in a tournament in several weeks’ time. At the time of writing, FIFA players from all around the world are competing against each other for the opportunity to represent their club at the playoffs. The initiative will see esports propelled to the next level, due to the Premier League’s global reach and passionate fan base.

Premier League clubs including West Ham United have been quick to realise the potential of tapping into Esports fanbase by hosting their own tournaments. In October 2018 to coincide with the release of FIFA 19, West Ham United along with partner Basset & Gold hosted a tournament with a lucrative £25,000 prize to be won.

Investors

Due to Esports rising popularity in the UK, we are starting to see more wealthy investors wanting a slice of the action. London based billionaire Tej Kohli has dipped his toe in the water, setting up a $50m investment to help support European Esports businesses grow.

Whilst Chester King, co-owner of the International Group a health, leisure and hospitality management company has invested both time and money into setting up the British Esports Association. The organisation is now recognised as the national body for Esports in the UK. As founder and CEO, King’s very clear in the goals that the organisation is determined to meet including ‘inspiring new players particularly at a grass root level’, ‘deliver courses and qualifications in Esports’ and ‘maintaining the UK as a hub of excellence for the sport’.

Want to get involved?

Organisations such as the National University Esports League (NUEL) and Gfinity’s Challenger Series have been set up to help bridge the gap between the pro teams and the up-and-comers on the UK scene. Make sure to check them out and see when their next tournaments are taking place, get ranked and hone your skills against level players.

With so many tournaments to choose from here is a small selection of some of our favourites.

Insomnia

Two weekends a year usually in April and August the NEC in Birmingham plays host to multiple tournaments, where there are daily community matches in games like Smash Bros and FIFA which usually offer a few hundred pounds to the winner. Entry is free, and Insomnia has announced that if a game receives big support, they might include them as major events with big incentive prizes.

ESL UK & Ireland

ESL hosts several weekly and community cup events all for payers with differing skill level. Although for the more established players there’s the ESL Premiership, a league that results in a playoff final with prizes reaching close to £10,000 for some games.

Gfinity

Gfinity hosts a wide range of tournaments, live events, community cups throughout the year for games such as F1, Rocket League and FIFA. Gfinity’s latest innovation is the Challenger Series, a tournament where players can sign up as a contender and compete against other players. This is a great opportunity for players to get picked up by an elite Esports organisation.

If you would like to talk about how PR could help increase participation at your next tournament, speak to a member of our award-winning team today.