ESL is pleased to announce its largest UK tournament since 2010 - the £12,000 ESL UK Premiership for Counter Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends. Regional players will be able to show off their skills over the course of the two-month-long competition, with the finals concluding during the London MCM Comic Con weekend (May the 22nd to the 24th) at the Excel Center in front of over 110,000 attendees.
The UK esports community has grown rapidly in recent years, and ESL is looking forward to improving the standing of esports even further after garnering over one million unique viewers in 2014 for Counter-Strike tournaments alone.
We sat down with Peter Mather, community manager at ESL UK, to talk about the future of the UK Premiership and esports in the UK.
ESL: Hi, Peter. How often will UK Premiership events take place? Are there any other competitions planned for 2015?
Peter Mather: We have three seasons planned for 2015, scaling with community interest as the tournament series matures. One of the biggest factors for us is continuity: we want people to know that the next season is waiting for them, and that’s going to be a big driving force behind the scheduling in 2015 - it’s going to be pretty relentless.
While the Premiership is awesome, we’re also working on how we can get newer teams into the esports we’re supporting. We currently have several plans in the pipeline for 2015, one of which shouldn’t be too far from implementation.
ESL: Will the UK Premiership add other games to its lineup aside from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends?
Peter Mather: For sure - we’re always reviewing what titles people want to compete in, and are actually exploring our options for the addition of a third title for season two. However, we have to be careful that the addition of an extra title doesn’t impact upon those we currently support. It’s not really a question of “if”, more of a case of “when”.
ESL: What are your thoughts on the regional talent in the UK? Are there any up-and-coming teams who could burst onto the international stage in the near future?
Peter Mather: That’s an interesting one. We actually have hundreds of gamers dedicated to esports here in the United Kingdom, many of which are super talented. You just have to look back at 4 Nations, a UK League of Legends event we supported back in 2014. We saw some amazing feats of skill and strategy that many said could have easily have been from Challenger.
Counter-Strike has some amazing players, but has struggled to field consistent lineups. We’re hoping that, with the ESL UK Premiership, we’ll give them a reason to stick together, and fly the UK flag on an international stage.
ESL: London Comic Con is a huge stage for the first UK Premiership event. Will the Premiership return to the Excel Center in 2016?
Peter Mather: I seriously hope so, and I don’t see a reason why not! We’ve already had some amazing experiences at MCM events during 2014, and we’re looking forward to continuing our partnership into 2015 and beyond. The crowds that flock to their events year after year are amazing - they love esports, and we never have enough seats (even though we keep adding more!).
ESL: With a regular competition in two of today’s most played games, do you see more UK players and teams competing at a top level internationally?
Peter Mather: During 2015? Probably not. If you look at some of the top teams out there, they’ve been together for a while now, and we’re starting afresh in the UK. I’m hoping that 2016 will be the year that the UK starts to flourish - we just need to lay the foundation first.
If you think your team has what it takes, take part in one of our three online qualifiers for your chance to reach the group stages, where each win will guarantee your team a share of the £12,000 prize pool.
The top four CS:GO and League of Legends teams will go on to play the grand finals on the big stage during the MCM Comic Con in London. The first of three CS:GO qualifiers will start on Monday February the 23rd , followed by the first League of Legends qualifier on March the 2nd.
You can get a complete overview of the qualifiers, schedule and tickets at the ESL UK Premiership hub, and stay up to date by following @ESLUK in order to receive the latest information about the event!