UK Sports eyes esports in the UK in coming years

UK Sports eyes esports in the UK in coming years

13 March 2024

Esports in the UK and the rest of the world are becoming more and more popular, especially as more people and companies are discovering the potential of typical esports skills outside of the classic realm of video games. That is, for example, why Access Creative College recently announced the opening of a brand-new facility in London, and why UK National Student Esports signed a partnership with UNiDAYS last year.

UK Sport, the government organisation responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United Kingdom, recently confirmed this sentiment by announcing its broad focus for the coming years. While hosting the Olympic Games looks out of the question for the UK in the foreseeable future, the ambition is to bring several other major sporting events to the region, including international esports events.

Exploring esports in the UK

One of the major reasons why UK Sport has set its sight on the world of esports, is the realisation that it most likely will not be possible to bring the Olympics to the United Kingdom before 2044 at the earlier. The event was held in London in 2012, and seeing as both Australia and the United States had to wait 32 years each between Olympics, it seems plausible that similar conditions exist for a UK candidacy. As a result, the focus for the coming years has shifted to other sporting events, including those with a relation to esports in the UK.

In that sense, the organisation is likely to be happy with how the calendar for esports in the UK in 2024 is shaping up. From the 2024 League of Legends World Championship Finals in London and ESL One Birmingham 2024 to the BLAST Premier Spring Final 2024 and the PUBG Mobile Global Championship Grand Finals 2024; this year, some of the biggest esports events in the world are coming to the UK. As far as UK Sports is concerned though, the number of events will only increase over the coming years.

“When we talk to cities about events, pretty near the top of the list are urban sports,” says Simon Morton, current deputy CEO of UK Sport, “And e-sports is quite a broad church. At one end of the spectrum, you’ve got a pure gaming, Call of Duty, at the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got virtual and simulated Olympic and Paralympic sports. And so where we’re going to start exploring is from that place, rather than the opposite.”

Commonwealth Games

One of the first tangible results of UK Sport’s plans for the future in terms of esports in the UK could be the return of the Commonwealth Esports Games. During the 2022 edition in Birmingham, the organising Executive Board of the Commonwealth Games held the first-ever Commonwealth Esports Games, in collaboration with the Global Esports Federation and backed by the British Esports Association. With the focus of UK Sport partly shifting to esports for the foreseeable future, a second edition of the Commonwealth Esports Games can be expected for the next edition of the Commonwealth Games in 2026.