The Wired Lobby esports venue to open in Middlesbrough in September 2023, with Katana Gaming to run LAN tournaments (update: Katana launch event cancelled)

Wired Lobby Katana Gaming

Update (October 3rd 2023): Katana Gaming CEO Heffy has posted an update saying the Katana x Wired Lobby launch event has been cancelled:

Update (May 4th 2023): The Wired Lobby is aiming for a September 2023 soft launch with the support of Middlesbrough Council, and has revealed more info about the premises.

The esports venue was initially a thought and a conversation between Andy Preston (Mayor) and Edwin Ford (MD of Gaming Venues Ltd) back in 2021.

Changes to the floor plan include more floor space in the restaurant area and more gaming tables in the bar area on the ground floor, and three streaming booths and a digital radio station (featuring support from Tees Uni and Middlesbrough College students) with a private bar and seating upstairs. There’s a lift at the back of the premises leading to a space for VIP members.

As part of a two-year agreement with Teesside University, Edwin will introduce Gaming Malta and Teesside University to collaborate on future projects including student exchange and taking slots at each other’s events such as Animex.

Esports tournaments will include Call of Duty, Valorant and Rocket League. There’s also the option to open several additional venues this year.

Original article (January 1st 2023):

A new esports venue known as The Wired Lobby is set to open in Middlesbrough this year, and UK/Irish esports organisation Katana Gaming will help host LANs there.

The Wired Lobby – due to open in early 2023 – will feature around 50 gaming PCs, 40 consoles, an arena accommodating up to 100 people with a stage area for teams to compete on, plus racing simulators, a VIP area, streaming facilities and a fully licensed café. The concept, layout and design for the venue came from Edwin Ford.

The venue is set to take over the former Peacocks store, and is part of a £9m regeneration of Captain Cook Square. It was previously due to open in May 2022.

Katana Gaming, formed in May 2020, are an Irish and UK org that also host tournaments to support the community. While Katana have Irish links, two of their co-owners are from the UK. They’ve now partnered with The Wired Lobby to provide the European Call of Duty community with LAN events.

The Wired Lobby venue was designed with tournaments in mind, according to a press release, and it’s set to host several LAN tournaments each year, with the first expected to be in April or May 2023.

“The partnership with Katana is a perfect match, as we look to develop our tournaments in the venue and online. The agreement for Katana to be the exclusive providers of Call of Duty and Valorant tournaments is really exciting for us.”

Derek Booth, The Wired Lobby

Through the partnership, Katana will put on events at The Wired Lobby, and with their content creation division, Katana will aim to continue to support grassroots esports at a time where some organisations are folding due to the difficult economic climate.

The project is designed for the European CoD scene, which has a lack of LAN events, especially with the US holding Majors out there. Katana’s aim is to enable more players to gain competitive LAN experience and encourage grassroots esports, the org’s CEO Jacques ‘Heffy’ Heffernan told Esports News UK.

Online tournaments will also be opened up to The Wired Lobby franchise as it builds its community.

The Wired Lobby also has a partnership with Teesside University.

“Tournaments were always part of the vision, as it was apparent that there was nowhere for gamers to go and watch teams live in play and for players to sit alongside their team mates and physically enjoy their successes,” said Derek Booth, marketing director at The Wired Lobby.

“After months of dialogue, with the university and several gaming studios in the area, we knew we had the right offering. The partnership with Katana is a perfect match, as we look to develop our tournaments both in the venue and online. The agreement for Katana Gaming to be the exclusive providers of Call of Duty and Valorant tournaments, is really exciting for us.”

Jacques ‘Heffy’ Heffernan, CEO of Katana Gaming Ltd, added: “Katana Gaming are thrilled to have partnered with The Wired Lobby, we are passionate about esports and gaming and it’s great to partner with a company that aligns with our values.

“We look forward to working alongside The Wired Lobby. Being able to bring exciting and long overdue events to gamers, this will give a new lease of life to the gaming sector within the UK. Just like our motto, #allaboutthegamers, we look forward to bringing a professional gaming experience to the everyday gamer.”

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston recently said: “Middlesbrough’s amazing new esports venue has joined forces with Teesside University to provide opportunities for gamers and games programmers to thrive in the booming esports industry.”

Last year, Katana Gaming took part in a Call of Duty LAN in Sheffield. The organisers of that, ACCL, who were due to run a LAN at Newcastle United’s ground, are no longer in operation. Katana have since taken on their admins, and acquired the ACCL Twitter account, which has been rebranded to the Katana Gaming League.

There’s more info on The Wired Lobby’s website and the Katana Gaming League website here.

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