As the West Midlands continues to grow its reputation as a location for esports, 2024 is shaping up to be a significant one for the region in this growing sector.

Imported Image

Solihull is scheduled to host two international esports tournaments during the year, while the University of Warwick has moved its Warwick Esports Centre to a more central location as it looks to develop and enhance its offerings related to the competitive world of video gaming.

The two esports tournaments in Solihull, ESL One Dota II and SuperDome, have both benefited from Commonwealth Games legacy enhancement funding.

ESL One Dota II, due to be held from April 26 to 28, has received £145,000 in funding, while SuperDome, scheduled from September 5 to 8, has been given £250,000.

Both events are taking place at the Resorts World Arena at the NEC, and for the ESL One Dota II tournament, seats in some ticket categories are already sold out, with more due to be added soon.

The last Dota II event in the region was held at Birmingham’s Utilita Arena in 2019, and welcomed more than 24,000 spectators.

For Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, positioning Solihull at the forefront of this dynamic and competitive sport, aims to bring thousands of people to the borough, giving a welcome boost to local businesses and providing valuable jobs and volunteering opportunities in the hospitality and retail sectors.

Esports is also an important part of life at the University of Warwick, which has recently relocated its Warwick Esports Centre to a more prominent location within the campus.

The centre is now based at Fusion Sports Bar on the first floor of the Rootes Building, and is available for use by students, as well as members of the community.

It is hoped the new location will make the Esports Centre more convenient and accessible to students and staff and will encourage greater participation and engagement.

The University of Warwick made a strategic decision to invest in esports in 2021, and aims to foster a vibrant gaming community for students on campus.

As part of a drive to open up esports to the community, the centre hosts pay to play sessions, social and business events, skills programmes and school experiences.

The University of Warwick can also boast competitive esports success, as last year they became the inaugural Amazon University Esports UK and Ireland leaderboard champions, while the institution has won the title of UK Esports University of the Year for five successive years.

Feedback for the Esports Centre has been overwhelmingly positive, with visitors praising the new location for its accessibility and welcoming atmosphere, while the university believes that the increased footfall in the new location indicates a growing interest and engagement with esports activities and opportunities provided by the centre.

The university has ambitious plans to develop and enhance its esports offerings, including increasing network reach, business partnerships, team socials and memberships, themed events and competitions, collaborations with the university’s conferencing division and offering further educational partnerships and programmes.

Mick McLaughlin, business development manager (CreaTech) at the University of Warwick said: “University of Warwick's Esports Centre is poised for an exhilarating journey ahead, powered by its new central location, dynamic programme of activities, and strategic partnerships.

“Through innovative incentives, enticing memberships, and collaborative opportunities with commercial partners, we're not just building a hub for gaming excellence, but fostering a thriving community.

“Together, we're shaping the future of esports, unlocking boundless potential for both the centre and the university, one game-changing partnership at a time.”

Meanwhile in Solihull esports is set to form a key part of the area’s economic strategy as it is one of the sectors in which the town is focusing on.

The Council is working with key partners and event organisers to ensure that the local community and businesses are involved and benefit from the events planned this year. 

The wider West Midlands cemented itself as a home of esports events when it staged the first ever Commonwealth Esports Championships at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham in August 2022.

Alongside the Championships, the venue also hosted the Commonwealth Esports Forum, which featured speeches and panel discussions on esports, exploring its connections with other areas of society, including entertainment, education and business.

The Commonwealth Esports Championships were held alongside the 2022 Commonwealth Games, an independent event with its own medals and branding.

The events formed part of a 10-year Strategic Framework Agreement between the West Midlands and the Global Esports Federation (GEF), accelerating the region’s commitment to driving international growth in the rapidly developing industry, and further burnishing the UK’s credentials as an international esports centre.

The partnership will see the West Midlands join a network of global hubs, including GEF’s headquarters in Singapore and continued developments in Brazil, China, Turkey, Japan, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas, among others.

The agreement spanning 10 years – led by the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) – cements the region’s position as a hotbed for the esports and gaming industry, with the West Midlands already responsible for one quarter of the UK’s output in the sector.

Visit here for more information about the West Midlands major sporting events offer.