Two years ago, ESL UK MD James Dean predicted a world-class esports team would emerge from the UK by 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,” he said. “If we can see a UK team hit a European or global major, our job is done.”
Two years on, and we have undefeated Team UK in the Overwatch World Cup quarter finals, as well as English player Spencer “Gorilla” Ealing who has just won the FIFA Interactive World Cup.
On top of that, EU LCS side Misfits have just qualified for the 2017 League of Legends World Championship.
You might be thinking: ‘Misfits? They aren’t a UK organisation?’
Technically, you’d be correct. They’re owned by Miami Heat. But what’s important to note is that Misfits originally progressed to the Challenger Series Qualifiers last year from the ESL UK & Ireland Premiership, where they were playing with a mostly British roster as the Renegades Banditos.
From there, they made it to the Challenger Series and eventually the LCS in one swoop. Now after beating Fnatic in the EU LCS playoffs, and with G2 beating H2K, both Misfits and G2 are going to Worlds.
“I’m ecstatic to see the ongoing success of the UK esports community and it’s an honour to be part of that.”
James Dean, ESL UK
While their roster changed a lot over the past year since their time in the UK scene, Misfits currently have two British players in jungler Maxlore and top-laner Alphari, who plied their trade in the UK Premiership two years ago, with Team Infused.
It looks like ESL UK’s prediction – despite some scepticism from the UK scene at the time – has come true.
James Dean told Esports News UK: “When we opened the ESL UK office over five years ago, the clear ingredients missing in UK esports was sustainability and consistency for players to progress and the industry to thrive.
“I’m ecstatic to see the ongoing success of the UK esports community and it’s an honour to be part of that. The global structure of ESL national leagues are achieving exactly what they intended as a true path to pro.
“However, we’re still only scraping the surface of the huge potential in UK esports, the future is very bright indeed.”
Team Dignitas Michael O’Dell made a separate prediction two years ago, which has also come true.
“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,” he said.
The Gfinity Elite Series is currently being broadcast on BT Sport and BBC 3 (though the latter is technically online, it’s still with a huge broadcaster known for their TV work). Sky has dabbled in esports in the past too, plus we have Ginx TV which Sky invested in too.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.