The demise of the Insomnia Gaming Festival and the debts left behind

Insomnia Gaming Festival
Image credit: Insomnia Gaming Festival, via Flickr

Many esports organisations and tournament organisers have been embroiled in controversy over a lack of payment in the past. However, the financial troubles of Player 1 Events, the parent company of gaming and esports festival Insomnia, particularly stand out. 

Whether it is because of Insomnia’s reputation and great standing in the UK or the sheer size of the debt, which has been revealed to Esports Insider through multiple sources, something makes this case exceedingly interesting.

ESI Lisbon 2024

According to sources, Player1 Events Ltd — recently renamed from Supernova Events and Esports Limited — has entered Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). As part of CVA, the company will attempt to come to an agreement with its business creditors to pay back the money that is owed.

According to a statement of affairs as of May 29th 2024, the company currently owes £8m, £2m of which is share capital invested by shareholders.

Player1 Events Limited is still in the process of entering the CVA, but how did they get into this situation? To find out, it’s important to start at the beginning.

Who is Player1 Events and what is the history of the Insomnia Gaming Festival?

Insomnia Gaming Festival esports
Image credit: UKCSGO

Founded in 1997, Player1 Events (which was then named Multiplay) created the Insomnia Gaming Festival. Slowly but surely the team discovered it had created a hit with gaming and esports audiences in the UK and upscaled the event.

In 2015 the company was sold to video game retailer GAME and in 2021 Player1 Events was bought by SuperNova Capital until the present day.

The last Insomnia event was Insomnia 72, held in the Birmingham NEC; it occurred from the end of March 29th to April 1st. The gaming festival included esports tournaments, stalls and various events on the main stage such as show matches and cosplaying. 

The next Insomnia, i73, was scheduled to happen from September 4th to the 8th, but the website is no longer up and no tickets ever went on sale. RuneFest, an event which was meant to be running alongside Insomnia 73, had put tickets on sale but has since postponed the event.

The Aftermath of Insomnia 72

Insomnia Gaming Festival 2
Image credit: Insomnia Gaming Festival, via Flickr

After the event, contractors noticed that the deadline for payments set out by Player1 Events had been missed by two weeks. One content creator who worked at Insomnia 72, Nathy B, took to X (formerly Twitter) to talk about the lack of payment. Shortly afterwards an internal email went out to Player1 Events staff letting personnel know they had been let go and a report from Esports News UK revealed that the entire staff had been laid off.

It was not just contractors who had yet to be paid as Sam Macedonio, a Co-owner of British esports organisation Into the Breach, also tweeted out about deposits for booths he had already paid for and that Goose House, now partly owned by Into the Breach, is still owed £10,000 in tournament winnings.

Earlier this month, it was also revealed via social media that Smite 2 was set to have an esports LAN event at Insomnia 72. As a result of Insomnia’s cancellation, plans for SMITE 2 esports turn to its Las Vegas LAN event in 2025 with options in Europe also being discussed for next year.

What happens next?

Esports Insider understands that Player1 Events, through the insolvency firm it has contracted, Begbies Traynor, reached out to all creditors who were owed money to let them know Player1 Events would be entering Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL). 

Through this process, the creditors were sent copies of a statement of affairs, which detailed every debt the company owes amounting to £8m. However, Player1 Events has since decided not to proceed with the CVL and instead switch to the aforementioned CVA. For now, debtors are waiting on the next step.

Esports Insider reached out to Begbies Traynor to find out about the proceedings, but at the time of publication no response has been given.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new

In an industry where consolidation is ever-rising, companies are going out of business and teams are scaling down their operations, it is an unfortunate reality that this is likely not to be the last of these situations to occur. The aptly named Esports Winter is not going anywhere any time soon.

An example of this fact is the current Lionscreed situation, where the esports organisation has been removed from League of Legends’ NLC Division 1 for failing to meet financial obligations.

Insomnia Gaming Festival esports panel
Image credit: UKCSGO

Despite this situation, there is a shimmer of light in the dark as two former Player1 Events employees who were largely behind the running of the Insomnia Gaming Festival, Matt ‘Kharne’ Macdonald and Michael ‘Geosnipe’ LambertMention, have created their own venture named LANcraft. 

The two have since created a GoFundMe page with the aim of raising money to create something new in the wake of Player1 Events. 

Although the idea of an alternative is good, the sheer reputation and size of the Insomnia Gaming Festival will not be something easily replicated.

Only time will tell if all the money owed by Player1 Events will be paid back. Moreover, will a new event rise up to fill the void that Insomnia has left behind?

Dafydd Gwynn