Of course, a huge benefit of the UK – and London in particular – is how well connected it is to the rest of the world. London is served by five airports, with Heathrow airport the second biggest airport in Europe terms of annual passengers.
Perhaps that is why both the League of Legends Mid-season Invitational and the Apex Legends Global Series have come to London and Birmingham in recent months. In the past, the FIFA eWorld Cup, Halo Championship Series and Call of Duty League events have all been held in the UK.
The UK is home to a number of esports businesses too, with a rich history in the space, from FACEIT, to Gfinity to Esports Insider, it’s clear that these companies see being in the UK as an advantage.
The UK is committed to the esports and gaming space, and that commitment has been slated by senior political figures.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The appetite for video games in the UK is palpable. The UK’s consumer games market is currently valued at £7.05 billion in 2022 - more than double its size in 2013. And 2022 was the biggest year for films based on video games IP at the UK box office ever, up 66% from 2019.”
Whilst Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “It’s clear that Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a global leader in esports. The Park is harnessing the growing industry, becoming a hub for skills training and jobs in the sector, and helping to create a better, more prosperous London for all.”
Esports was included in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) report in 2020, in which it stated “esports has the potential to develop as an area of real national strength in the UK". In addition, London & Partners, a business and tourism company partly funded by the Greater London Authority, wants "London to be the European capital of esports by 2024".
projected UK esports market revenue in 2027
of UK esports fans are positive towards sponsors
UK active esports players
Top Tier Facilities
Since the esports boom during the 2010s, some impressive esports facilities have cropped up in London. Excel Esports moved to a new HQ in Shoreditch in 2021, with Fnatic now operating out of Dalston, as well as Guild Esports who opened up the Guild Academy and HQ in early 2022.
Red Bull has been one of the biggest brands in esports over the past decade, with the Red Bull gaming amplifying their presence in the space. Also situated in Shoreditch, the site and has become a destination for micro-communities to connect and play.
Gaming bars have popped up in major cities across the country, with Pixel, Meltdown and Platform incredibly popular. They provide a fantastic overlap between the competitive and casual gaming communities, as well as screening esports tournaments and hosting watch parties.
Emergence of UK talent
The professional esports landscape traditionally hasn’t seen too many UK-based pros, but the tide has turned. Several professionals have come from UK popular titles FIFA and Call of Duty, with also a few players have come from newer esports titles such as Valorant, featuring for orgs such as Sentinels, Fnatic and NRG.
Excel and Endpoint have grown the prominence of UK based orgs, with Tundra winning Dota 2’s The International in 2022. Similarly, Into the Breach’s became the first UK-Majority roster to qualify for a CS:GO Major, and went on to the reach the quarter-finals.
Sim racing has been seen as one of the most effective routes into esports, with there being a clear pathway to real life motor racing. The F1 boom thanks to Netflix's Drive to Survive has strengthened this with Lando Norris setting up his own esports team in Quadrant.
Esports is in an interesting place at the minute, but it is clear that the UK is a happy hunting ground for brands and rightsholders, and that is set to continue.
The launch of the Commonwealth Esports Championships last year presents an opportunity to bring events like the Commonwealth games forward, and the range of events coming up in the UK in the remainder of 2023 alone shows the commitment to the space.
From EGX London to ESI London, these conferences present great opportunities for businesses to get together and discuss creative ways to enter the market. With moves towards in-game advertising and Web3, having an understanding of the esports and gaming space is key. The UK has cemented that in recent years, and expect to see it lead the evolution of esports in the coming years.