(Pic: eSport tournaments continue to grow. Credit: Dreamhack)
Just how has eSport become one of the most popular forms of entertainment, and how does the City of London fit in to it’s growth? Liam Terry reports.
It’s no secret that eSport has become popular entertainment in recent years, with 385 million viewers in 2017 alone. With such a figure, you’d expect the City of London, one of the most popular and dense cities in the world, to play a big role in the eSports industry. A logical assumption that’s however not quite true – the same being said for the entire UK. London is now in a pivotal position, as eyes start to focus on England’s famous capital city for one of the most important steps in London’s eSport reputation.
With popular venues in London hosting major tournaments such as the Pokemon Championships 2017 and the esports championship series (ECS) at Wembley Arena in 2018, a busy and bustling future awaits London as the future of eSports will tie in heavily to the City, with such examples of this happening as recently as November, a new London-based eSport team was formed by Cloud9.
Cloud9, popular American eSports company and the most followed eSport team in the UK, has also confirmed to be planning to build a new eSports facility in London, mostly to house their Overwatch team, and will be acting as a starting point for when they eventually plan to branch out to more venues in the capitol.
Cloud9 President, Dan Fiden said: “Cloud9 is generally thought of as North American, but part of that is because that’s where our League of Legends team has been. But in terms of viewership and reach, 30-35% of our fanbase is in Europe.” Cloud9’s new Overwatch League team, the London Spitfires is going to be the only European team competing in the tournament, putting London in the spotlight and in turn making it a crucial chapter in London’s eSport story.
But what’s the life of an eSporter like, how does one prosper in life by just playing games? After the screens turn on keyboard start tapping, Cloud9 player and also popular Twitch streamer Micheal “shroud” Grzesiek said: “In Europe, we’re probably doing 6-7 scrims (online matches), practicing 10 hours a day”
Needing to practice regularly is a staple for any sport – but the moment all that skill is brought into the stadium, monitors glaring and crowds cheering, does feeling of pressure ever get to the players? Shroud stated: “You’re just focusing on your game so much, […] all that pressure isn’t really there but the second the round ends, that’s when it hits you.”
The EU scene certainly houses more venues for eSport tournament – as reflected when Shoud added: “In North America, we’re probably practicing for 5 hours playing 3 scrims a day, so it’s a pretty big difference between the two.”
London’s involvement in the Overwatch League is a huge boost to the UK’s eSport scene, and as the UK has the only European team in this years OW League it certainly doesn’t end here for London’s eSport career.