Here’s what you missed at the ESI Winter Forum

19 February 2019


Esports Insider’s first ESI Forum Series event of the year has already been and gone! 

February 6th saw the Winter edition of the quarterly series, which is evening industry meet-ups with quality networking, lovely grub, drinks, and a presentation and panel plus audience Q&A session.

The ESI Winter Forum Series 2019 took place at the Grosvenor Casino, The Victoria in London on February 6th and we were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of interest it garnered. Selling out weeks in advance, we welcomed over 140 guests and speakers from varying backgrounds in the esports industry for the evening.

Here’s what you missed out on at this year’s first instalment, which was hosted in partnership with our friends over at Rank Group.


Weavr Consortium

James Dean, Managing Director of ESL UK

Dr. Florian Block, Research Fellow & Lecturer at University of York

Weavr Consortium
Photo credit: Jak Howard

At the beginning of 2019, it was announced that the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – a non-departmental public body of the UK Government – awarded a two-year demonstrator grant to Weavr Consortium.

Comprised of ESL UK, University of York, Focal Point VR, and Rewind, Weavr Consortium aims to improve the esports broadcasting experience through the use of AI and data learning. £4 million has been awarded to the project.

To shed more light on the news – which is incredible for UK esports and the industry at large – we enlisted James Dean, Managing Director of ESL UK and Dr. Florian Block, Research Fellow & Lecturer at University of York to speak during the evening.

The Future of Esports Entertainment

Su Collins, Esports Correspondent for Red Bull Esports

Mike Bembenek, Executive Producer for FACEIT
Chi Bhatia, Associate Designer at HKS Sports & Entertainment
Nicolas Loisel, Senior Editor at Perform Group

The Future of Esports Entertainment
Photo credit: Jak Howard

Assembling a knowledgeable panel was important planning to discuss the future of esports entertainment, so we did just that. Containing experts from both esports and traditional sports, the panel discussed what shape entertainment in esports may look like as we move forward.

“I think esports has the potential to rival football” – Chi Bhatia, HKS

One hot topic that was delved into during the talk was the undefined potential of esports venues, with events being hosted from anywhere between television studios to mainstream arenas. The panelists agreed that the demands vary between different titles and that this industry is free from constraints that traditional sports can be held within.

Ignoring CS:GO, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Dota 2, games are driven by grassroots and involving the core base of a title is imperative, noted Mike Bembenek. If you can’t convince people that star players are worth watching then you can’t expect to fill arenas.


Those who attended the Forum Series didn’t just get to witness the above keynote and panel, but they had the opportunity to network in a laid-back environment with a bunch of industry professionals. Team owners, venue owners, event organisers, regulatory bodies, agencies, media & press, the government, law firms, and more were all in attendance.

ESI Winter Forum Series 2019
Photo credit: Jak Howard

No successful networking event is complete without a tipple and some and tasty food..and as per usual, we didn’t skimp on either. It appeared as if the assortment of comestibles made guests a tad thirsty as it didn’t take long for them to drink us out of stock. There are worse places to be than a casino when you’re looking for more beer, though.

Sam Cooke, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Esports Insider shared his thoughts on the event: “If the attendance and reception for the ESI Winter Forum Series is anything to go by, we’re in for a great year. It was encouraging to see the variety of industry backgrounds of those who decided to attend the event.

“This is a wonderful start to the year and we have plenty more to come, including ESI New York, the second edition of the ESI Hall of Fame in Los Angeles during E3 week, and the return of ESI London in Autumn – not to mention the upcoming Spring Forum Series in Manchester on March  22nd. We hope to see you soon!”

So if you didn’t attend ESI Winter Forum Series 2019 and feel like you’ve missed out (let’s be honest, you have) then don’t worry, our next instalment is only a matter of weeks away. The ESI Spring Forum will be hosted at the City Football Academy Media Centre in Manchester on March 22nd!

Tickets for the ESI Spring Forum Series 2019 are available here