ESI London 2024 Panel showcase: “It’s coming home”

Ahead of ESI London 2024 on June 13th, we take a look at one of our mainstage panels topics: why major esports events are flocking to the UK.

Apex Legends Global Series ALGS 2023 at the copperbox arena in London
Apex Legends Global Series (ALGS) 2023 Split 1 Playoffs at the Copperbox Arena in London, UK. Image credit: EA / ALGS

Every time the English national football team even flirts with the idea of potentially performing well in a tournament, the country is drowned in a familiar chant: “It’s coming home.” While the UK may be pretty far away from bringing any significant trophies home in esports, one thing sure is coming home: major esports tournament finals.

The UK has a long history in esports, perhaps a result of the UK’s prominent position in the games industry. In 2020, the UK esports sector reportedly represented 8% of the global market and supported over 1,200 jobs, per a report commissioned by Ukie. It’s also home to some of the most recognisable desk talent and casters across the entire esports industry.

ESI Lisbon 2024

In some ways, 2024 has been a troubling year for UK esports, as it has for scenes across the world. Several UK-based esports businesses, including esports organisation Vexed, gaming bar chain Platform and LAN festival Insomnia have closed down this year.

Yet on the events side, it couldn’t be a more different story. While esports events have graced UK shores for many years, the number of major tournament finals hosted in the UK has ramped up significantly recently — and 2024 is surely the crowning jewel in that trend. This year alone, the UK is set to play host to S-tier tournaments in nothing short of seven major esports: League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, PUBG Mobile, Rocket League, Rainbow Six and Halo.

By the end of 2024, the UK will have welcomed: the League of Legends World Championship finals (arguably the biggest event in esports), ESL One Birmingham (Dota 2), BLAST Premier Spring Final 2024 (Counter-Strike), PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2024, Rainbow Six Major Manchester, Rocket League Championship Series 2024: Major 2, Halo Championship Series 2024: London Major and EPIC.LAN, alongside many more smaller events.

The benefits are being reaped across the UK but London has emerged as the primary beneficiary, in no small part thanks to London & Partners, a destination agency which promotes tourism in the capital. London’s Copperbox Arena has already hosted the prestigious League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational as well as Apex Legends, Rocket League and Call of Duty events, while Twickehnham and Wembley are also both reaping the benefits with major events in Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Halo and more. 

Also taking place in the UK this year is, of course, ESI London, where leading voices will gather to discuss why exactly the UK has emerged as such an important destination for esports. What, exactly, is the UK offering that tournament organisers want such a part of? Why are destinations from London to Birmingham to Manchester lining up to welcome esports events? And will the influx of events help turn fortunes around for struggling local businesses?

In the ‘It’s coming home: Why events flocked to the UK’ panel at ESI London 2024, executives from Ubisoft, Quadrant (Veloce), Twickenham Stadium, and London & Partners will answer those questions. Together, they will bring a publisher, team, venue and destination agency perspective, respectively, to one of the most intriguing recent trends in European esports.

Esports Insider