UK esports: Small scene, huge opportunity
How important is the UK to esports, what kind of talent do we have here and how is the infrastructure developing? Dominic Sacco from Esports News UK and the not-for-profit British Esports Association, explains...
IT'S FAIR to say that the UK in esports is like Australia is in world football.
Sure, we have a presence in the competitive game, but we are far from being world-beaters.
Esports is huge globally, it's set to generate almost $700m in revenues this year, up from around $500m in 2016. The top tournaments are watched by millions, including the $5m League of Legends World Championship and the Dota 2 International with its record-setting $20m+ prize pool.
The world's best players can easily earn six figure salaries and above.
In the UK, it's a very different story. Forget millions - prize pools are nearer £10,000. Contracts are not really a thing, roster changes are regular and it's very hard for players to go from amateur to pro.
This lack of infrastructure and stability means many promising players go unsupported, and have no choice but to leave esports behind for university and a traditional career.
While we have produced a handful of top players - mainly in console FPS titles like Call of Duty and Halo - there aren't many. Some of the best esports players tend to come from South Korea and China, while there's a fair amount from North America and Europe as a whole, with the likes of Sweden and Denmark producing an impressive spread of talent.
While we have great arenas and facilities, with the likes of the Indigo O2 and Wembley's SSE Arena hosting sell-out tournaments, we lack the infrastructure at a grassroots level. There is a disparity between smaller UK tournaments and the top level worldwide.
So how can esports reach the next level in the UK?
Here at the British Esports Association, we're aiming to support grassroots esports, establish best practice, deliver courses and qualifications, increase awareness of esports and to provide expertise and advice.
We've not long launched our website which is full of advice for players, parents and others interested in esports. We have an advisory board full of esports experts to help us form our initiatives and we're hoping to get more children into esports, and to educate the public that esports offers a viable career path.
Ones to watch: 10 of the UK's best esports pros
- Barney "Alphari" Morris (Misfits, League of Legends)
- James "Bakery" Baker (Team Dignitas, Heroes of the Storm)
- Spencer "Gorilla" Ealing (Epsilon Esports, FIFA)
- Nate "Ataraxia" Mark (Obey Alliance, SMITE)
- Mark "Markydooda" Exton (FlipSid3 Tactics, Rocket League)
- Seb "numlocked" Barton (NRG, Overwatch)
- Rory "dephh" Jackson (Complexity, CSGO)
- Ryan Hart (Street Fighter)
- Thomas "Tommey" Trewren (Fnatic, Call of Duty)
- Denom "A F0xy Grampa" Jones (Problem X Promotions, Mortal Kombat X)
Do check out our website for more information - and who knows, perhaps the UK will eventually become a force to be reckoned with in esports.