ESports in London : Evolution
This article is part of a long running series on the growing ESports scene in the UK, featuring both home grown and world class talent across a wide variety of games. This article looks at the highs and lows so far from the UK calendar and what’s next to get excited about.
Earlier in the year I wrote about the GFinity arena bringing ESports to London on a weekly basis, featuring some of the worlds best in StarCraft 2, Call of Duty, Hearthstone, FIFA, and Counter Strike : Global Offensive. Most of the spring events are now over, with the summer events getting started next month. There have been some teething issues at times, but the real cause for celebration is the manner in which Gfinity has conducted themselves.
Even since they started back in March, Gfinity has evolved both the tournament structures and the venue to cater for the feedback of the fans and the players involved. Audience members present during days when big technical failures have occurred have been granted discounted tickets for further events, and broadcast formats have also been tweaked to better suit the audience watching the stream, of which there are many. The CS:GO Spring Masters 2 brought in over 200,000 viewers on twitch alone, and when you see the amount of world class teams that are getting invited to these events, its easy to see why. I look forward to seeing how the Summer Masters events play out and how Gfinity continues to evolve as a host.
Last week MCM Comic Con came to London, and was the home of the ESL UK Premiership Finals in League of Legends and CS:GO, pitting UK teams against each other to determine the best in the country. This kind of event is important for UK ESports, with the worlds best coming here regularly, its important to put a spotlight on home talent and give them their own stage to showcase themselves. The games were massively entertaining, and the whole event was very well put together. Importantly, you could tell that it meant a lot to the teams to come out on top. It seemed to get a little overshadowed by the massive buzz MCM Comic Con London itself generates, but hopefully having it as part of such a big event expanded its visibility somewhat.
Next week is Blizzard’s Nexus Calling, the launch event for Heroes of the Storm on 1st June, watchable online if you weren’t lucky enough to get a ticket. I found it odd that the event was being held in London at first, considering Blizzard’s main two HQs are in the US and mainland Europe, but perhaps Blizzard feel that the ESports growth in the capital gives them a chance to gain a very receptive audience. The pace at which tickets were taken seems to agree, so far, each time tickets have been placed online, they have been gone within minutes. Blizzard is certainly keeping to its ESports commitments, and so I will keep watching developments on Heroes, and their other games, with enthusiasm long after release.
Oh, and I couldn’t write an article about ESports in London without mentioning gaming behemoth Dreamhack coming to London in September. More on that nearer to the time.