Esports Around The World is a series of profiles outlining the esports ecosystem in various countries globally. The series ties into ESI’s international esports business events, which take place around the world.
The UK esports ecosystem is possibly one of the most intriguing scenes in Europe. Up until recently, the scene was overshadowed by other English-speaking countries such as the US. However, with global esports tournaments starting to come to the UK, such as League of Legends’ MSI and Apex Legends’ ALGS, there is an air of optimism for esports in the country.
According to a report by Olsberg SPI and Nordicity in 2020, the UK esports sector represents 8% of the global market. London has also slowly become a prominent area for esports facilities, with the likes of EXCEL ESPORTS, Red Bull, Guild Esports, Belong, SideQuest and Platform all investing in venues and headquarters in the city. Esports Insider hosts its annual ESI London business conference in the city.
It’s not all about London though, with the rest of the UK starting to bear the fruits of esports’ labour. Whether it’s Team Endpoint’s facility in Sheffield, ConfettiX’s multi-event esports venue or Liverpool’s new social esports facility leveltap, infrastructure is being developed throughout the nation.
Alongside the UK’s development as a hub for esports business, the scene also has a storied history within competitive esports. This is largely thanks to UK-based organisation Fnatic and the UK’s relative prominence across Call of Duty, Rocket League, Fortnite, VALORANT and FIFA.
Fnatic spearheaded the UK scene’s competitive success, becoming the inaugural League of Legends World Champions in 2011 and claiming three CS:GO Majors from 2013 – 2015 — though with non-UK rosters.
More recently, the UK made history in 2023 during CS:GO’s final-ever Major when Into The Breach’s British roster reached the quarter-finals, becoming the first UK-majority CS:GO roster to do so.
From a player perspective, the UK produces competitive talent across a range of titles. Minnesota RØKKR’s Ben ‘Bance’ Bance and Cameron ‘Cammy’ McKilligan, alongside Toronto Ultra’s Jamie ‘insight’ Craven continue to represent the UK in Call of Duty. Sticking with the FPS genre, the UK has started to make a name for itself within VALORANT, with UK players representing being part of notable teams such as Sentinels, Fnatic and NRG, among others.
Moreover, the UK scene has a crop of notable competitive FIFA players such as Spencer ‘Gorilla’ Ealing (EXCEL Esports), Donovan ‘Tekkz’ Hunt (Fnatic) and Tom ‘Stokes’ Stokes (Hashtag United).
Despite its historical struggles for continental prominence, the UK scene is seemingly on the rise with organisations such as EXCEL ESPORTS, Endpoint and Tundra gaining more and more stature within Western esports scenes. The latter organisation made a splash through Dota 2, winning The International, the game’s world championship, in 2022.
Despite not being officially recognised as a sport, the government has talked positively about esports in the UK. In response to a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) report in 2020, the government stated: “Esports has the potential to develop as an area of real national strength in the UK.”
Esports has also received glowing statements from notable government officials. This includes the Major of London, Sadiq Khan, who described the city’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as “a global leader in esports.”
Though not directly esports related, the UK government has provided funding to the video game industry. This is largely in the form of the Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) scheme, which allows a 20% tax break on all UK-approved games through HM Treasury.
Notable Tournaments & Leagues
Despite having a comparatively low number of elite professional teams and players, the UK is home to a sizeable number of grassroots and amateur esports tournaments and leagues, and has also hosted some notable high-profile events such as ESL One Birmingham and the 2015 League of Legends World Championship.
Notable Esports Organisations
Note that this is a non-exhaustive list and exclusion does not signify an org is not notable.
|Into The Breach||Vexed Gaming|
|London Royal Ravens||Wolves Esports|
National Associations / Federations
Note that inclusion in this list does not suggest any acknowledgement from ESI of its authority, works or official capacity.
|British Esports Association (BEA)||UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE)|
|UK Esports Team Committee (UKETC)|
The UK is world-leading in its offering of esports educational initiatives. Esports is available in educational curricula through a range of undergraduate and postgraduate university degrees in esports, at universities including Staffordshire, Chichester, Falmouth, Northampton and Nottingham Trent’s Confetti Institute of Technology.
Additionally, the British Esports Association and education provider Pearson run the BTEC Esports qualification for high school-aged students in the UK.
The UK also has a steadily growing collegiate esports ecosystem, with competitions such as NSE’s British University Esports Championship and NUEL’s Amazon University Esports tournament. In 2021, esports was added to the domestically-popular Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) as an official programme.
Finally, multiple esports entities — and traditional sports teams — have invested in facilities and partnerships aimed to cultivate the next crop of esports talent. Over the last few years, this has included the British Esports Association, Guild Esports, Tranmere Rovers, Burnley FC and Wolves, among others.
This is a preliminary country profile and will be augmented with additional information over time. If you have any suggestions or feedback for this profile, please get in touch at [email protected]
First published: April 7th 2022. Last updated: May 26th 2023.