Esports Around The World is a series of profiles outlining the esports ecosystem in various countries globally. The series ties into our ESI Washington DC event taking place 16-18th May 2022, which will focus on esports’ growth around the world. The event will include a first-of-its-kind embassies tour alongside ESI’s trademark combination of networking, education and debate. Find out more here.
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The UK esports ecosystem is possibly one of the most intriguing scenes in Europe, partly because of its perceived lack of popularity compared to other English-speaking countries such as the US.
According to a report by Olsberg SPI with Nordicity in 2020, the UK esports sector represents eight percent of the global market. London has also slowly become a prominent area for esports facilities, with the likes of EXCEL ESPORTS, Red Bull, Guild Esports, Gfinity, Belong, Wanyoo and Platform all investing in venues and headquarters in the city.
Alongside the UK’s development as a hub for esports business, the UK scene also has history within competitive esports. This is largely thanks to UK-based organisation Fnatic and the UK’s relative prominence across Call of Duty, Rocket League, Fortnite and FIFA.
Fnatic has spearheaded the UK scene’s competitive success, becoming the inaugural League of Legends World Champions in 2011 and claiming three CS:GO Majors from 2013 – 2015 — though with non-UK rosters. Moreover, up until recently the country largely dominated the FIFA esports scene, with the nation’s crowning moment arguably being Gorrilla’s FIFA Interactive World Cup victory in 2017.
From a player perspective, the UK produces some competitive talent across a range of titles. Toronto Ultra’s Ben ‘Bance’ Bance, Jamie ‘insight’ Craven and Cameron ‘Cammy’ McKilligan — all of which are UK-based — finished runners-up in 2021’s Call of Duty League Championship.
Players such as Barney ‘Alphari’ Morris and Jack ‘ApparentlyJack’ Benton also showcase the UK’s talent in League of Legends and Rocket League respectively. Despite its historical struggles for continental prominence, the UK scene is seemingly on the rise with organisations such as EXCEL ESPORTS, Endpoint and Guild Esports gaining more and more stature within Western esports scenes.
Despite not being officially recognised as a sport, the government has largely responded positively to esports in the UK. In response to a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) report in 2020, the government stated: “Esports has the potential to develop as an area of real national strength in the UK.”
Though not directly esports related, the UK government has provided funding to the video game industry. This is largely in the form of the Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) scheme, which allows a 20 percent tax break on all UK-approved games through HM Treasury.
Notable Tournaments & Leagues
Despite having a comparatively low number of elite professional teams and players, the UK is home to a sizeable number of grassroots and amateur esports tournaments and leagues, and has also hosted some notable high-profile events such as ESL One Birmingham and the 2015 League of Legends World Championship.
Notable Esports Organisations
Note that this is a non-exhaustive list and exclusion does not signify an org is not notable.
National Associations / Federations
Note that inclusion in this list does not suggest any acknowledgement from ESI of its authority, works or official capacity.
The UK is world-leading in its offering of esports educational initiatives. Esports is available in educational curricula through a range of undergraduate and postgraduate university degrees in esports, at universities including Staffordshire, Chichester, Falmouth, Northampton and Nottingham Trent’s Confetti Institute of Technology.
Additionally, the British Esports Association and education provider Pearson run the BTEC Esports qualification for high school-aged students in the UK.
The UK also has a steadily growing collegiate esports ecosystem, with competitions such as NSE’s British University Esports Championship and NUEL’s Amazon University Esports tournament. In 2021, esports was added to the domestically-popular Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) as an official programme.
Finally, multiple esports entities — and traditional sports teams — have invested in facilities and partnerships aimed to cultivate the next crop of esports talent. Over the course of 2021 and 2022, this includes the British Esports Association, Guild Esports, Promod Esports, LDN UTD, Burnley FC and Wolves, among others.
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This is a preliminary country profile and will be augmented with additional information over time. If you have any suggestions or feedback for this profile, please get in touch at [email protected]
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