4 takeaways from the 2024 London & Partners Esports Summit: Riot reveals MSI 2023 in-person audience stats, economic impact of events and what to expect from the O2’s Worlds final

London & Partners Esports Summit 2024
Earlier this week, the 2024 London & Partners Esports Summit took place at the Science Museum, bringing the UK industry together.
With London & Partners being a business and tourism company focused on promoting London and partly funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA), it has worked with publishers like Riot Games to bring big esports events to the UK capital, like MSI last year and Worlds later this year. Dom Sacco lists four of his takeaways from the event.

1. The UK and London’s esports potential

The conference kicked off with an introduction from London & Partners’ Ailsa Buck and Rose Wangen-Jones.

Rose said: “Last year was great for esports events in the UK. We want to bring the expertise you all have together, as the power of collaboration leads to huge success. We think we’ll do much better by working together.

“And esports events are not just about entertainment. They bring an economic boost to the city, through ticket sales, merch, sponsorship, broadcast rights. Deloitte predicts over £300m will be generated in 2025 in the UK.”

Georgina Macauley of Fnatic later said that there were 9.4m competitive gamers online in the UK last year.

And Rose also spoke about Games London celebrating its tenth year this year.

2. A third of visitors to MSI 2023 came from outside the UK

Next to the stage was Leanne McGowan, Head of Global Esports Events at Riot Games.

She spoke about Riot’s plans, esports strategy and the importance of events, ‘being a connection point and bringing millions of people together through their shared journey’.

She revealed some in-person MSI London 2023 audience data: 88% of visitors were aged under 30 years old. 23% were local to London, 45% came from outside of London and 32% travelled to the event from outside of the UK.

Leanne added: “In Worlds 22 our economic impact study found that the economy impact was $53m. The Worlds 23 [numbers] we’re still working out, but the Korean Times published an article, stating: ‘The industry expects that both direct and indirect economic effects of the 2023 LoL World Championship will reach $153m.’

“At riot we talk about the ‘play watch play’ loop. Playing makes you want to watch esports, which makes you want to watch again. Esports unleashes fandom. We want fans to self identify as a Faker fan or a member of the Fnatic army or an LEC lifer. If Riot wins, teams win, sponsors win and it all generates back into one another.”

On MSI, she said: “We try to weave themes from the city in our stage design and branding. For the first time for League of Legends we saw the Inkshadow slimline directly themed to the event.”

3. There’s important work still to be done to support esports in London

After the presentation from Riot, an industry panel discussed some of the challenges and opportunities for esports in London.

The panel was chaired by Sam Collins of Ukie and included Andrew Haworth of Blast, Heather Dower of Hotdrop, Georgina Macauley of Fnatic and Professor Philip Wilson of College of Esports.

On esports in London, Heather Dower of Hotdrop said: there’s a bit of everything in London, grassroots up to tier one.

” If anyone wants to support esports and video games in London, come to it with love and passion. There is a return on investment but it’s a long term return on investment. Let’s be open to things – [the industry is] far more friendly now than it was with the Gfinitys not talking to the ESLs back in the day, which was unreal.”

Professor Philip Wilson of College of Esports added: “London needs to do a lot better in terms of bringing events to the city. In Liverpool we turned the European Song Contest around in a month. All the raw materials are there and I don’t think the coordination has happened.

“London is a global powerhouse for skills. The talent is here, but I think there needs to be some reorientation to understanding the isms of gaming. With the recent correction we’re seeing in the market, which will now start to drive a more sustainable ecosystem, I think we need to encourage talent to start seeing gaming as an esports career.”

Professor Philip Wilson, College of Esports

“So the talent is here. Our students want to run events and do big things. All the ingredients are there, it’s about the stakeholders who are shaping it and giving them a platform to ply their trade.”

Georgina Macauley of Fnatic said: “London isn’t eager enough. There’s Platform gaming bar and org HQs. There’s either huge investment or nothing. There isn’t the infrastructure to support it.

“London is well setup for talent, but esports is not spoken about enough. It feels like it’s kept behind closed doors. Until we get rid of that stereotype, people won’t take it as a serious career route.”

Andrew Haworth of Blast concluded: “Esports is still a growing pie. We’ve got to work together as an industry so we’re not cannibalising each other.”

4. Riot hints at Worlds 2024 activations in London

Worlds London
Worlds last came to London in 2015

On what to expect from the 2024 LoL Worlds finals at London’s O2 later this year, Riot’s Leanne McGowan said: “We’re deep into planning Worlds 2024.

“We’ll have activations directly outside the O2, there will probably be a sprinkling of Arcane here and there. I’ve seen the first six episodes of the new season and it’s awesome.

“We’ll be working closely with London & Partners to work on the most impactful experiences for our fans.”

Related article: Back in 2022, London & Partners said they want London to be the European capital of esports by 2024

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