E-Sports in the UK: Dead, dying or coming to life?
As an online gamer I am always on Twitch, Steam or something similar, learning from the masters. Those who I call “Masters” have learned their art from international competitions, electronic competitions, known more commonly as “eSports”. This year, date, there is a total prize fund globally of a massive £14,196,733.52. That is just the prize fund, that hasn’t factored in the profit made from companies hosting, selling merchandise or other such wares. This is just prize fund money; big money. The current total prize fund for Dota 2’s “The International” stands at a staggering £11,354,491.08. To put this into perspective, the winner of “The Open”, a Golf tournament, wins £1.5million. The winner of “Wimbledon” 2015, earned £1,880,000.
Last year over 40,000 people packed into Sangam Stadium, in South Korea, to watch the finals of the League of Legends World Championships, which had a total prize fund of over £1.3million. Yet we are still flagging, massively, behind Asia and the US. Sundance DiGiovanni, founder of Major League Gaming, stated in 2013 “I think that you will see the same level of engagement and fandom that exists within markets like South Korea here in North America and Europe, and I think it’s going to happen faster than a lot of people expect.” Not fast enough, we are so far behind, but at least the Europeans are trying. ESL One hosted a Dota 2 tournament in Frankfurt in June and they are hosting Counterstrike: Global Offensive tournament, based in Cologne, in August. Europe seems to have switched on to the eSports vibe, and it is running rampant. So why in the United Kingdom, and a greater part of Europe, are eSports so small?
The United Kingdom however is lagging massively, and when I say massively, I mean 28 Kbps dial up. We have no dedicated teams, we have no committed players and we have no drive. We don’t even have the infrastructure to support a dedicated eSports scene in the United Kingdom. The issue is a combination of both dedication from teams, aka the Community within the United Kingdom, and local businesses. Around the US, Asia and parts of Europe, gaming teams get sponsored to play competitive games; some earn the equivilent wages of a small time footballer. They have followers that purchase merchandise to support their team, and watch them either physically or electronically. Currently our nation is supporting foreign teams; I support Ninjas In Pajama’s, a Scandanavian team. If there was a local team, I would support them, as there is a sense of pride in these teams, their gaming style and their attitude.
Luckily there is a light at the end of this very dark, long tunnel. The European Gaming League is beginning to recognise the lack of scene within the United Kingdom, and the vaccum is it creating. They have their first United Kingdom based event in Peterborough, August 20th-22nd, at CityLAN. Their 4vs4 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare tournament has over £7,500 in prizes for the Xbone version, and over £2,000 for the PS4 version. As well as three Fifa 15 opens throughout the Sunday, it promises to be a great starter event. This could pave the way for an eSports scene within the United Kingdom, as well show the level of interest the nation has.
What we need is more support for the Dota 2 and League of Legend scenes, more tournaments based in the United Kingdom. Counter Strike: Global Offensive & Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare are good support games, as most people play them. Based of the figures and numbers, MOBA’s seem like the way to go. However, only we can hope and pray that someone picks these up. It is all good and well supporting console gamers, but the PC is the way to go. Come on UK, lets get on board with the rest of the world!