Ireland and esports, where to next?

Wylde has Usain Bolt, Munster Rugby Gaming are in bed with Williams on Sim Racing and Nativz are now a division 1 NLC league of legends team while the Legion Arena team continue to develop a strong community and college tournament offering.

The last month has been incredible for esports on this island, and that is without mentioning the success of people like Qristola, the Wicklow based Halo played who finished top 20 in the world championship and Chris Gara, doing incredible work with Norwich City as a content creator.

The question is where to next?

Ireland needs support from a state level if the esports industry is to grow. There are multiple reasons for this. A structured top-down approach can help Ireland take advantage of the growth is this space and become a market league. Previously it has been highlighted that Ireland is in prime position to become a bootcamp location for esports teams; However, there is a bigger opportunity at play.

There is a real chance to build on the success of teams in this country and compete at an international level. Across the water, a UKIE study on the value of esports in the UK showed that over 1,200 people work in the esports space with 115 million GBP gross value added to the economy. The number will continue to grow as teams like Fnatic, Excel, LND UTD, Tundra, Jlingz esports, Guild, Promod, ESL/Faceit and many more continue to grow.

The UK has started to embrace sports more and more with an almost joined up thinking approached being adopted. The NUEL and NSE work with college level students, to provide competitions and tournaments while the British esports association flies the flag as an official body. The pro level nature of esports means teams don’t need to answer to the British esports association but they have also put a structure in place with the UK Esports Teams Committee, a collective of teams focused on growing the UK scene.

The UK is not the only country putting an emphasis on esports. Following the likes of Finland, Germany and the USA, Italy is set to become the latest country to officially regulate and recognise esports.

The reason for this is somewhat necessary with local Customs and Monopoles Agency recently seizing all gaming equipment from esports venues across the country, citing a lack of compliance with Italian regulations. In Italy, LAN video gaming equipment is classified under iGaming equipment such as slot and arcade machines.

Could the same happen in Ireland? Without proper classification and regulation there is that possibilities, hopefully not during a major event. What is clear though is that without a strategic, country first approach Ireland is at risk of being left behind. The good news is, we have some amazing team doing incredible things, competing players and incredible pockets of fantastic communities in Ireland across titles willing to push Ireland on. What is missing is a passionate Jackie Healy Rae-esque esports politician.

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