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Esports in Scotland – From Grassroots to Budding Ecosystem

In a world of Covid-19, Scottish Esports has grown from a grassroots movement to a sector with potential for massive global growth.

As Digit wrote in 2018 Scotland’s Esports industry was budding, taking its place in a global $1.5 billion market with an audience of 600 million fans watching live streamed tournaments and game play.

Interviewing James Hood, founder of ESports Scotland, the article reports on the challenges the entrepreneur has faced and overcome to develop the nations Esports industry.

An interview with Esports Insider describes their progress, which has included growing a volunteer team, some of them that have organised the biggest fighting game tournament in Europe and others who have run a successful gaming show called MarriedWithXbox.

These efforts have enabled the team to accomplish major milestones, such as securing a sponsorship deal with PC giant Lenovo. The deal will see the computer firm provide top-of-the-range Lenovo Legion gaming PCs for competitors from across the country to put their skills to the test against one another.

This landmark deal put in place a keystone foundation for the industry to flourish in Scotland. James Hood says:

Esports is a global phenomenon and its popularity is burgeoning. With Lenovo’s backing this could be a landmark year in the growth of the Scottish scene. Scotland has a well-earned reputation as a leader in game creation and development, but our potential as an esports trailblazer has not yet been realised.

This sponsorship will allow us to work with an international industry leader to develop the gaming community in Scotland from grass-roots outreach all the way up to the elite and professional levels.”

Grow Global – Scaling the industry

As we look forward to how the industry can shift up gears and drive major growth we can identify a number of key developments and activities that can help.

Most notably is the big vision from Dundee, of course, to build a 4,000 seat bespoke esports arena, the first in Scotland. The venue would be fitted with digital equipment for high-speed gaming matches and facilities to broadcast tournaments around the world.

James Hood is leading Scotland’s efforts in this regard. Organizing the ‘BIGFest’, the grand finals of Scotland’s national Esports League where last year, more than 100 players and 24 teams took part in the league with the final held at the Resonate gaming festival in Glasgow’s SEC, this year due to Covid-19 Hood has taken it online. The finals where streamed live on BBC Sport Scotland and Esport’s Scotland’s Twitch channel, donating all proceeds from the events to NHS Charities Together.

Other expansion initiatives include teaming up with their counterparts in Wales, launching the inaugural Esport Cup of Nations (ECON), which will see teams compete in titles including CSGO, FIFA, League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege and Rocket League.

The potential for the sector is vast. Yes Covid-19 is having a devastating impact across business as a whole but as ever times of major disruption also creates opportunity in new areas. As the world is forced to stay home and live online the tech sector has boomed as it provides the infrastructure to facilitate this.

For gaming this also means there is a much larger audience for online viewing experiences. James Hood is also putting together the Scottish Sun FIFA20 Tournament, is confident that watching FIFA games could become regular fixtures on the sporting calendar. The Scottish FA has launched the first of two e-National Teams to represent Scotland in the UEFA eEURO competition.

This expanding growth presents opportunity for other entrepreneurs and organizations to become a part of the industry and help accelerate it’s momentum. For example Skelp Esports is a new Scottish organisation focused on building and investing in teams and players, and Glasgow Clyde College is offering an esports course. James Hood gives credit to Business Gateway for providing essential early help to get the business off the ground.

It’s clear this sector and trend offers Scotland a smart way to adapt to the new world of coronavirus. Kate Forbes says Scotland’s recovery must be technology driven and business strategy 101 is to go where the customers are now. With a worldwide lock down there is the largest possible market for esports ventures right now, and it’s also an activity that is an ideal route into computing for children. Scotland should move quickly to seize the opportunity.

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