'World class UK eSports team will emerge in the next two years' – ESL UK

ESL UK MD James Dean believes that by the end of 2017, the UK will have an eSports team big enough to match the best in the world.

“I have the role of trying to bring out the UK’s talent and that’s obviously quite a difficult one,” he said. “For us to bring out that talent, we need to give players tournaments to play in, and for those to happen we also need sponsorship, but then the teams can only get really good if they’re committed to the tournaments themselves. But if they’ve all got day jobs, how do they do that? It’s mainly sponsorship. Without sponsorship there’s no viewership because there’s no one to pay for the tournament to happen.
“So it’s a chicken and egg situation – but somehow we have to pull it together. Generally speaking, there’s a lot of great players in the UK, and by reintroducing the ESL UK Premiership at the start of this year – the first time in a long time that local teams could actually get together and have regular play on a weekly basis – that really started to change the dynamic a little bit.
“We started to see the fans could now really get involved and start investing their time watching their local favourite team. And we’ve got one ultimate goal with those guys – to get them into the global scene. If we can see a UK team in League of Legends hit a European or global major, our job is done.
“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but I would say that that gap is rapidly closing, and I would say in the next two years we will have a UK team in the global scene.”

Check out our match report of Exertus vs NUEL in the ESL UK League of Legends Premiership

Dean was joined by Team Dignitas owner Michael O’Dell and Gfinity’s head of broadcasting Paul Chaloner at a panel session following the showing of Intel’s ‘All Work All Play’ eSports documentary.
Team Dignitas is on the hunt right now for the UK’s best pro gamers – full details here.
“It’s extremely hard to find UK gamers,” added O’Dell. “We started as a UK team 12 or 13 years ago and worked out quickly we had to go global to keep up with everybody else. We still have our base in the UK.
“We decided to invade America and it worked quite well, but I’m British and I’m always looking for pro gamers. We’re actually doing a gamer search now – our third one, and Intel supports it – it’s like X Factor so I get to be like Simon Cowell!
“We’re looking for a Hearthstone player; luckily the UK has a lot of good Hearthstone players, so we should find one… we’re down to four at the moment and the winner will be announced at Dreamhack London (on September 19th).”
He also said that players can expect better salaries as the UK eSports scene has grown.
“At the moment, eSports has expanded so much – it’s been proven people will come to stadiums and it will probably be on TV soon.
“Now is the birth of it. It’s really gone nuts this year.  There’s big players coming in now, millionaires are coming in to buy teams now, and players will be able to have sustainable, higher salaries. Sustainability is something I’ve been trying to have for years now.”

“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but I would say that that gap is rapidly closing, and I would say in the next two years we will have a UK team in the global scene.”
James Dean, ESL UK

Gfinity’s head of broadcasting Paul Chaloner believes the UK scene is as healthy and competitive as ever, and that should encourage the best talent to emerge.
“We are lucky eSports is a very international thing,” he commented. “The cool thing about that is the international language is English.
“The great thing now is we’re not just seeing growth in every area in teams, players, salaries and sponsorships, but we’re also seeing growth in broadcasting.
“We have a very healthy and competitive scene and we’ve never had that in the UK before.
“We’re not really where Korea is right now, because they’re head and shoulders above everyone, but we’re competing again and we’re showing we have world class talent across the board, and world class leagues. We’re doing that in the UK, a very competitive industry that is burgeoning now.”
Intel’s UK technical PR manager Anna Cheng added that Dreamhack London will provide a great opportunity to grow the UK eSports scene.
Dreamhack London takes place on September 19th at the Copperbox Arena

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