UK Esports – It’s Coming Home

By Mike Barnes

November 23, 2018

It’s an exciting time for UK esports. Three big announcements this month already show that the UK is on the rise and ready to be a big player in the industry.

UK based team exceL Esports join the LEC

We were delighted to hear that, after weeks of rumours, exceL announced that they will be competing in the inaugural season of Riot Games’ League of Legends European Championship (LEC). This is massive news.The EU LCS (it’s former title) has always drawn huge attention and it’s set to grow even more with the addition of new teams and a rework of the brand. According to the League of Legends site:

‘We wanted a name – and design – that better captured our unique brand, as well as our attitude. We want people to feel like they belong, and be proud to be different. We’re the exception to what’s expected of us, which is why we decided to set aside our old name for something original.’

The LEC clearly has big plans ahead and having a UK team competing is great for the country. Fnatic have of course competed previously and been very successful, but despite having their HQ in Shoreditch, London, they have always felt like an international org instead of a true UK team. Having exceL compete fits perfectly with the LEC’s rebranding mission above. Regional teams are the way forward. Fans want to be more involved and feel like they can belong to a team. That’s not to say that fans cannot feel part of an international team, but localisation gives a team more identity.

With the addition of a team like exceL to a big European championship we may also see them have further impacts as the world hears more about their particular approach to esports. In one of our recent EdgeCasts with exceL co-founder and MD, Kieran Holmes-Darby we spoke about supporting players with their in-game skills but also helping them with their long-term career plans and aiding their growth as professional individuals. We also spoke about inclusivity, their League of Legends Ladies team and his hopes for greater inclusivity in the future. That kind of progressive ethos is one the esports industry still needs and it will be interesting to see if exceL’s inclusion in the LEC will help that spread. We’re very much looking forward to seeing the team in action soon. Kieran told us today:

“I think it is fair to say this is a huge step for exceL as a brand, me as an individual, and UK esports as a whole. We are so excited to start competing in the LEC and we are ready to prove that the plucky British underdogs can hold their own against the best of them!”

Estars launch a UK wide Fortnite tournament

Last year, Estars ran Ireland’s largest ever esports tournament. Starting with ten teams and fifty competitors, the tournament culminated in a fantastic final at Dublin’s 3Arena in May. Now Estars are reaching across the Irish Sea. This week they launched registration for a huge Fortnite tournament taking place at sporting venues across the UK and Ireland, from Croke Park, to Celtic Park to the Emirates Stadium with the final taking place at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and a grand prize of £25,000 for the winner. Fortnite is on the way to establishing itself as a true esport with Epic Games having invested $100 million in Fortnite esportscompetitions for the 2018-2019 season alone. With Estars kicking off their tournament in January the UK will be one of the first to jump into Fortnite in the new year and a lot of eyes will be on them. The decision to hold the events at football stadiums is also a smart one. Millennials and Generation Z are slowly turning away from traditional sportsin favour of esports. Collaboration with a esports event is exactly what is needed for traditional sports organizations to maintain a young audience.

Tej Kohli launches €50 million esports fund

That is a lot of money! Admittedly the investment is for the whole of Europe and not just the UK, but the London based billionaire has also teamed up with Sam Cooke, co-founder and managing director of Esports Insider to make this happen through his venture arm Rewired GG. It’s going to be difficult for the global esports world to ignore such a large investment and esports expertise coming from the UK and it won’t be long before teams from Europe and the UK have enough backing to challenge the reign of the big North American teams.

New UK team in one of the biggest esports tournaments.

New UK based tournament with one of the world’s biggest games.

Huge new UK based investment in European esports.

The future is bright for the UK esports scene and it’s definitely one to watch. We have our own exciting plans for 2019 and we’ll be keeping up to date with all of the ones above, so be sure to follow us on twitter and let us know if you have any big plans of your own.