The UK’s esports scene has grown, and bricks and mortar venues are an integral part of this development.
Gfinity opened a London esports arena in 2015, which hosted over 150 professional gaming events and studio productions before closing its doors in February 2023. In the past five years a multitude of other venues have opened — spanning Nottingham to Kettering — with the intention to cater to gaming enthusiasts and host esports events nationwide.
This article details esports-specific venues that are tailored to the industry. Notably, these provide opportunities for esports tournaments and events with potential broadcasting capabilities as well as bootcamping opportunities.
The Red Bull Gaming Sphere (Shoreditch)
Fitted with gaming PCs, consoles, a broadcast gallery, display screens and a state-of-the-art streaming room, the Red Bull Gaming Sphere has unsurprisingly become a popular location for world-class esports teams to bootcamp ahead of major competitions.
The facility is also available for community gaming nights and esports tournaments. In 2023, the venue hosted Apex Legends teams Fnatic and Split 1 champions TSM ahead of the ALGS Split 1 Playoffs, which took place in the adapted Copper Box Arena in February.
According to TSM Apex Legends professional player, ‘Verhulst’, “You can’t really ask for more when you’re looking for the perfect place to boot camp.”
Twickenham Esports Facilities (Twickenham)
Over in West London, Twickenham has delivered international tournaments, bootcamps, community activations and live broadcasts at its esports facility. The venue has 150 team practice VIP boxes, a dedicated player’s lounge, on-site technical support, 34 separate dedicated events spaces and a 1GB bearer with live backup.
September 2022’s Smash Bros ‘Boss Battles’ tournament found its home at Twickenham’s esports venue, filling the 1,000+sqm Rose Suite with over 200 monitors for the competition.
Twickenham’s esports facilities are versatile, with event and tournament rooms ranging in capacity from 600-1,000. In addition, players participating in tournaments at the site have access to 24/7 practice facilities and air-conditioned suites for private team practice.
Twickenham’s facilities were famously home to UK esports team EXCEL before the organisation’s move to Shoreditch.
Esports Arena London (Here East, Stratford/Hackney)
Located in ‘Here East’ on the Staffordshire University London campus, the Esports Arena London offers a smaller facility. However, the arena has high-quality broadcasting facilities for live production.
This professional studio facility is designed to host the live transmission of multi-input competitive gaming tournaments with 4k resolution output. It is equipped with the ‘Gallery’, which is where the vision mixer, graphics, sound and lighting are all controlled.
The space holds 30 audience members, but its value lies primarily in its broadcasting capabilities. Its 5v5 multiplayer set-up includes a four-person host desk, multiple screens, and three separate cameras.
The New Meta Gaming Arena (Islington)
Situated in Islington, the New Meta Gaming Arena has several esports facilities that bolsters the grassroots ecosystem. Its main gaming arena features 30 high-end gaming PCs, accompanied by its smaller 5v5 Battle Arena. The facility also offers soundproof streaming booths with greenscreen and sound mixers for production.
Platform is a gaming and esports bar, offering semi-private console gaming booths and a 5v5 PC gaming stage.
The venue has previously hosted esports and gaming events, from watch parties to private hire. Complete with pizza, drinks, and themed cocktails, Platform looks to offer an immersive gaming experience to the public
Platform will be opening two new venues in 2023, including a new London location in Canary Wharf in March, with plans to extend further throughout the UK. The new Canary Wharf space will offer two floors of gaming booths, with a 250-guest capacity.
Guild Esports HQ (Shoreditch)
Guild Esports opened their Shoreditch Headquarters in October 2022 — a three-floor venue featuring a business events space, pro-gaming facilities, boardrooms, and a rooftop area.
Alongside a professional 22-PC gaming setup, its pro-gaming facilities include a fully-equipped gym with performance recovery products and an on-site private kitchen and dining area. These features have made the Guild Esports HQ an ideal venue for esports teams seeking bootcamp locations.
EXCEL Esports HQ (Shoreditch)
Shoreditch is also home to the EXCEL Esports headquarters. The 525+sqm venue features streaming rooms, production studios, bootcamping space and a hub for esports events in the centre of London.
EXCEL moved to the facility from Twickenham’s esports facilities, favouring a location more central to the London esports community. The combination of the venue’s location and its cutting-edge gaming equipment makes it ideal for visiting esports teams.
LDN UTD Centre of Excellence (Camden)
Located within easy reach of major London travel hubs such as Euston and King’s Cross St Pancras, LDN UTD’s Centre of Excellence provides a venue equipped for hosting esports and gaming events, bootcamps, and broadcasts. Partners Alienware, Dell, HyperX, and noblechairs have all supported equipping the centre.
In November 2022, LDN UTD was acquired by Ludus Gaming. However, the Centre of Excellence continues to offer its esports and gaming facilities for events and education.
SideQuest Hub (London, Coventry, & Leicester)
Rebranded from its associated Chinese organisation ‘Wanyoo’, SideQuest Hubs can now be found in Charing Cross (London), Stratford (London), Elephant and Castle (London), Coventry, and Leicester. The hubs run frequent community tournaments in their stores, alongside K-pop events and esports viewing parties.
SideQuest’s high-quality technology has attracted several esports teams to use its location for boot camps ahead of major tournaments. This includes several Apex Legends teams ahead of the London 2023 ALGS Split 1 Playoffs, such as EMEA organisation Alliance.
Belong Arenas (Multiple Locations)
In total, there are 27 separate arenas that are run by Belong across the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each arena is home to its own teams, such as the Manchester Swarm, Derby Valkyries and Stratford Spartans. Belong’s flagship ‘Arena Clash’ tournament is open to all abilities, reflecting the organisation’s objective to deliver professional facilities to grassroots esports across the country.
Every Belong Arena is equipped with high-powered PCs, up-to-date consoles and high-quality peripherals. Alongside its tournament-hosting capabilities, Belong Arenas are offered to the public for day-to-day access.
Pixel Bar (Manchester & Leeds)
Pixel Bars offer a relaxed esports experience, featuring booths with Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch consoles. The venue also has PCs and retro gaming arcade machines, complete with themed cocktails.
Alongside their standard services, Pixel Bar owns an esports team (currently competing in VALORANT), as well as hosts community tournaments and watch parties.
Other UK Locations
HOST Salford (Manchester)
Traditionally, esports venues in the UK cluster around the London area. However, some esports and games-focused venues have branched out to other areas of the country.
Indicative of this journey is the opening of HOST Salford in 2022. This facility is the ‘home of skills and technology’, taking the title of the ‘home of skills and technology’. The wider facility caters to numerous areas of skill and innovation. However, it also provides a purpose-built campus for esports and live broadcasting.
Overall, the facility provides 50 video game stations and dedicated console stations provided by Yoyotech. Alongside this, its tournament arena has online streaming and broadcasting capabilities.
HOST Gametech houses tournament facilities that are capable of seating 70 attendees, with ten tournament-ready PCs. Professional esports teams have already utilised its arena space and training complex to bootcamp ahead of major tournaments.
The Institute of Creative Technologies, ConfettiX, offers a 4,000 sqft multi-event esports venue and content studio. The facility has multiple shoutcaster and analyst rooms to facilitate professional tournaments and broadcasts, a green screen studio, a 4k LED video wall, team warm-up facilities and training suites.
The facility’s high-spec broadcast gallery includes full audio and vision mixing, lighting, motion graphics, and virtual environmental control with 4k broadcast and content creation infrastructure to manage large broadcasts.
Stevenage hosts NEWVU, a tech centre offering opportunities to experience the latest gaming technology. Its facilities include a Virtual Reality arena, gaming suites and streaming rooms available to hire.
Accompanying the venue is the NEWVU Academy. The Duke of Edinburgh licenced programme offers opportunities to learn skills in esports and gaming, including career tips and how-to guides.
Valhallan Esports Training Arena (Chiswick, London)
US youth esports initiative Valhallan will open its first UK franchisee venue in Chiswick, London, in 2023. Valhallan provides esports training and tournaments to engage young communities, with its own rating points system allowing esports players to rise through the ranks and compete on a regional or global stage.
When opened, the venue will provide special events, summer camps, bootcamps, tournaments, and a monthly membership scheme.
The British Esports Federation (BEF) announced the development of an esports performance and education campus in January 2022. Based in Sunderland, the venue will be tailored towards nurturing the next generation of esports talent.
Alongside its educational programs, the National Esports Performance Campus (NEPC) will have performance rooms, streaming booths, and an arena. The BEF intend to use the space to host regular events, tournaments, and summer camps. Great Britain’s esports team will also use the space as a training base.
Endpoint HQ (Sheffield)
UK esports organisation Endpoint is currently building a Headquarters in Sheffield. Plans for the facility include four bootcamp rooms, which will be available for the Endpoint teams, international teams, and events. There will also be a streaming booth for content creation, a studio for broadcasts, and a green room.
Endpoint’s esports facility will be open 24 hours a day, allowing teams, pro players, or streamers increased flexibility and the opportunity to hone their skills.
If any esports venues in the United Kingdom have been missed, please reach out to [email protected] The article will be updated accordingly.