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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Esports: Where does the sport go next after Commonwealth Games success?

The 2022 Commonwealth Games saw a new event on its calendar as esports shared the stage alongside traditional sports such as athletics and swimming.

The trial was a success, as the Games sought to diversify their audience and attract a younger audience.

England enjoyed a hugely successful Games, winning five medals, more than any other participating country.

BBC Sport took a look at how the esports industry reacted to the Games and where it goes next.

Pressure to perform at home Games

Over 100 players representing 20 Commonwealth nations competed for medals at the Birmingham International Convention Center in three different games: Rocket League, Dota2 and eFootball.

The event was deemed a success, with Commonwealth Games Federation president Dame Louise Martin telling the BBC: “In future this will be a sport within the Games, that’s my personal opinion.”

England won one gold, three silver and one bronze medal.

Team principal Mark Weller, who joined the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team as esports team principal after the Games, told BBC Sport: “I’m very proud of everyone and I really appreciate the work everyone has done. have done in recent months.

“You just feel this weight on your shoulders. No one else put any pressure on me. It was more the pressure I felt myself to perform for the country.”

“Knowing it was a pilot event, he wanted us to do extremely well. Also, being a home event, I think that made it all worse.”

Keeping the esports conversation alive

Alia Harvey started posting videos of playing FIFA online in 2021 and has gathered more than a following. 100,000 on TikTok and 62,000 on Twitch.

She capped off her rise through competitive gaming by winning bronze for England in the women’s e-football event, a game she didn’t have much experience with before the Games.

Harvey told BBC Sport: “I think the whole event was amazing. We were very excited and we didn’t think of it as a pilot event. We just saw it as an opportunity to represent our country and do well.”

“I think it was a good starting point. But I think the most important thing is what comes after. They have to keep that continuation after the event.”

“If you don’t follow up on it, people will gradually start to forget about it.”

Where is esports going now?

Confetti X hosted the preliminary rounds of the Commonwealth Esports Championships this summer
Confetti X hosted the preliminary rounds of the Commonwealth Esports Championships this summer

The esports industry is growing rapidly. Guild Esports, a team backed by former England soccer captain David Beckham, recently signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Skya deal that is touted as the “biggest in European esports history”.

The team has also closed sponsorship deals with big-name brands like Coca-Cola, Samsung and Subway.

Meanwhile, Confetti X, a £5m esports complex based in Nottingham with state-of-the-art facilities and a 100-seater stadium, it is spearheading the growth of the sport in England.

“Interest in esports is growing rapidly, the number of people taking part in esports is also growing rapidly,” British Esports COO David Martin told BBC East Midlands Today.

“The Confetti team has been involved in esports for years. What we’re talking about here is state-of-the-art production facilities for people to come in and train and educate themselves on how to use this equipment.

“But it also helps players, like the finalists in our student championships, to be in an arena space and feel that sense of full production and enjoy a live event.”

Part of Nottingham Trent University, Confetti X offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in esports and event production, but has also hosted the preliminary rounds of the Commonwealth Esports Championship.

“The key ethos here is to do it for real, which is what Confetti is all about and there’s a certain synergy there,” added David Jackson, managing director of the National University Esports League.

“They have students there doing all sorts of exciting things, we have hands-on opportunities for them to try that out in real-world, paid settings.

“There is a huge opportunity here. Confetti has done a fantastic job of positioning itself as an esports hub in the East Midlands and there is room for that sort of thing to develop in the center of the country.”

“Nottingham has the potential and Confetti is the anchor for that.”

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Nicole Aniston
Nicole loves to write and works as a corporate communications expert by day. She's been working in the field for quite some time now. Her training in media studies has provided her a wide perspective from which to tackle various issues. Public relations, corporate communications, travel, entrepreneurship, insurance, and finance are just few of the many topics she's interested in covering in her work.
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