ESI London 2023 Main Stage Sessions Preview – Day One

16 October 2023


Esports Insider London
Image credit: Esports Insider

Later this week (October 19th-20th) countless esports, games and creator economy industry stakeholders will gather at BOXPARK Wembley as ESI London 2023 officially begins.

Alongside its range of networking opportunities, Esports Insider’s esports and video games industry festival will host a range of panel discussions, all of which aim to spark debates and conversations that could affect the esports sector in the years to come.  

But what exactly will speakers be discussing at ESI London 2023? This article aims to provide a brief rundown of the topics that will take centre stage at ESI London 2023. If you wish to still attend the event, tickets are still available

Before jumping into the panel previews, there will be a special announcement taking place on the main stage at 9:55 am about a major tournament taking place in London in 2024. The announcement will be kept under wraps until the day of the event, however, we promise that it’ll be yet another great esports milestone for the city.

ESI London 2024

Going Live – Event Brand Activations & Fan Engagement

Kicking off ESI London 2023’s plethora of panels is a discussion about creating effective esports brand activations. Looking specifically at live events, how can brands and esports companies work together to deliver advertising and sponsorship campaigns that hit home and feel authentic to audiences? 

Gone are the days in which brands could just plaster logos over an event with the hope that it would convince fans to purchase its products, the bar is now much higher and more creative campaigns needed to deliver success. This has led to campaigns such as the golden Herman Miller chair at the ALGS, Mercedes providing vehicles for League of Legends’ World Championship players and even Swarovski designing the FNCS World Championship trophy

The panel looks at what brand activations have gone down well, what’s best to avoid, a closer look at some case studies, and what we want to see more of.


  • Duncan McMonagle – Co-Founder – Reset


  • Jasmine Skee – CEO – Guild Esports
  • More to be announced soon!
BOXPARK Wembley ESI London
ESI London 2023 will feature the debut of checkpoint and the Film Festival.

The future of Counter-strike esports

It’s safe to say that Counter-Strike has entered a new era following the release of   Counter-Strike 2. But will this have any effect on the esports scene? 

It turns out it very much will! After 11 years of CS:GO gracing the screens of esports fans, the launch of CS2 brings a new dynamic to the esports ecosystem. With the title changing from MR15 to MR12, expect shorter matches and new metas to be developed. From an ecosystem standpoint as well Valve is looking to initiate major changes to the structural landscape of Counter-Strike, with 2025 marking the end of the semi-franchised partner team model that has been utilised by the likes of ESL and BLAST. At ESI London, prominent stakeholders within the CS world will sit down to discuss what the future of Counter-Strike will look like for years to come.


  • Frankie Ward – Esports and Gaming Host


  • Alex Inglot – Commissioner – ESL Pro League
  • Marcus Schön – CFO – 9INE,
  • Patrick Sättermon, Co-founder and Chief Gaming Officer – Fnatic
  • Kristina Skogvard – Marketing Manager – Abios

Mastering the sponsorship game

What makes an effective sponsorship campaign? Moreso how can campaigns be monitored efficiently to help ensure that the right metrics are provided to both esports teams and their partners? 

In this session, we look at the power of Shikenso, an esports analytics company that is seemingly partnering with every esports organisation under the sun, and for good reason. In particular, explore the transformative strategies and analytics tools that empower MNM Gaming, Into the Breach & EXCEL Esports to overcome marketing challenges that help bolster its portfolio of partners.


  • Arwin Fallah Shirazi – CEO & Co-Founder – Shikenso Analytics
  • Jack Curtis – Head of Business Development – ITB Esports
  • Jordan Bedford – Partnerships Manager – EXCEL Esports
  • Jin Wai Kalvin Chung – CEO – MNM Gaming
Esports contract signing
Image credit: Shutterstock

The perfect esports venue doesn’t exist?

Despite worries over the economic stability of the esports ecosystem, one thing is for sure, the esports and gaming sector has truly entered mainstream culture. To highlight this, look no further than recent developments that are occurring in the esports venue and facility space. 

Whilst heads may turn to grandiose purpose-built esports arenas, it’s the grassroots scene that has taken the spotlight in recent years, with more and more gaming cafes and esports facilities opening up. The launch of facilities such as Level Tap, SideQuest, Platform, New Meta, and the Red Bull Gaming Sphere is a sure sign that there is a demand for esports, particularly in the UK.

Globally, more esports organisations have invested in creating dedicated HQs for its operations, and many multi-purpose venues have been transformed to accommodate major esports events.

But, as the headline states, does the perfect esports venue still not exist? Can dedicated esports venues be commercially viable in the long term? Also, do traditional facilities suffer from not having the correct infrastructure to truly create unbelievable esports experiences? 

This session answers all of these questions and more as industry stakeholders deep dive into the viability of esports venues.



  • Adam Jessop – CEO – Endpoint
  • Dalian Ghent – Events and Community Coordinator – SideQuest Gamers Hub
  • Adam Rydings – Director – Level Tap
  • David Yarnton – Partner & Chief of Business Development – Kinguin Digital Limited

ESI Brand Showcase: EXCEL x HSBC UK

As is tradition at ESI London, it’s time to take some time to deep dive into one of esports’ notable partners. This time EXCEL Esports and HSBC UK take centre stage to talk about its large-scale and innovative deal that was built on the foundations of educating fans about financial literacy. 

Mark Carter, Commercial Director, EXCEL ESPORTS and Will Turner, Partnership & Innovation, HSBC UK discuss how the partnership was formed and how the two brands plan to activate in the space. 

The duo will also be joined by Kartik Arya, Co-Head, HSBC Kinetic to provide a deep dive and open forum into how Kinetic is opening up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs in the sector.

excel esports
Image credit: EXCEL Esports

Who’s coaching the coaches?

Gone are the days when esports just consisted of a group of friends meeting up to compete in LAN events. At the top tier, esports teams have become full-scale organisations, complete with facilities, backroom staff and of course, coaches. 

But due to this rapid period of professionalism, individuals, many of whom were unqualified, had to fill these roles in quick succession. Esports industry experts consisted of passionate fans of the scene with acute business sense, meanwhile, esports coaches largely were former players who hung up their keyboards or controllers competitively. 

Over the years though, this is now starting to change. This panel in particular focuses on player development systems, asking the important question ‘who’s coaching the coaches?
Esports coaching qualifications are starting to appear and structured, youth-focused academy programmes have launched. However, these qualifications are still not seen as necessary in the esports industry – a far cry from traditional sports. Why not, what impact does this have and will it change?


  • Dr Lucy Zhu – Lecturer in Esports, Program Leader of BSc Esports –  University of Northampton


  • James Pirelli – Senior Product Manager – FITGMR Inc.
  • Ólafur Steinarsson – CEO – Esports Coaching Academy
  • Tom Dore – Global Head of International Relations – British Esports Federation
  • Saahib Singh Reehal – Esports Manager – The Football Association

Sim Racing – The grand plan

Sim Racing is arguably one of the esports’ most underrated sectors. Similarly to the likes of football, basketball and hockey, the category attracts major, wealthy stakeholders into the esports scene through adjacent esports divisions. F1 teams such as Williams, Alpine and McLaren have continually invested in the sim racing sector to build its esports offering.

After leaping into the spotlight during trying COVID conditions, the sim racing scene has gone through somewhat of a development phase. This includes the introduction of new international esports leagues such as ESL R1, to initiatives being developed that aim to reduce the scene’s financial barrier of entry

Is the Sim Racing ecosystem an underserved esports sector? What’s needed for it to take the next steps? And how does the scene compare to other esports genres?


  • Tobin Leigh – Founder & CEO – PACENOTE


  • Remer Rietkerk – Head of Competitive – RENNSPORT
  • Kieran Holmes-Darby – Gaming Director – Formula E
  • Ben Hawkins – Head Coach – Esports –  Williams Esports
  • Oliver MacFarlan – Head of Esports – Mercedes-Benz AMG Petronas Formula One
Image credit: Formula E

Player compensation: The great correction?

ESI London’s penultimate panel couldn’t have come at a better time with League of Legends’ top-tier European league introducing new salary regulations for 2024!

Simply put, pro players on multi-million dollar salaries were once a mark of legitimacy for esports; however, now salaries have become more and more unsustainable in the current esports climate. 

How high is too high for player salaries? Will salary caps be the solution to this issue? 

Bonuses and conditions in esports contracts have also become a topic of discussion. Should players have high wages, whilst also claiming a large percentage of prize winnings for winning tournaments? 

Perhaps most saliently, where does responsibility lie for change — with players, agents, teams, or a combination of the above? 

All these questions, and more, will be answered by our esteemed panel of industry stakeholders.


  • Trev Keane – Group Commercial Director – EPIC Global


EA SPORTS FC – A new era

Last, but certainly not least, on Day 1 of ESI London’s Main Stage Esports Insider’s own Jake Nordland sits down with Sam Turkbas, EA SPORTS’ Sr. Director & Commissioner of FC Esports!

Following its rebranding from FIFA to EAFC, we discuss the esports future of one of sports simulations’ biggest franchises. What will be the state of play for the game’s esports ecosystem? Moreover, how will EA SPORTS FC’s plethora of partners be represented throughout the game and esports activities? 

These are just a few questions that will be touched on during this ESI London session.

Tom Daniels
Tom has been part of Esports Insider's team since October 2020 and is currently the platform's Editor. When not playing Football Manager, he enjoys reporting on the mobile esports scene as well as the betting sector.