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The future of UK Pro Gaming: Multiplay is at the forefront

Thursday, 6th December 2012 14:46 GMT By Sam Clay

The world of pro-gaming is growing. With both viewership and prize pots now pushing into the millions, UK-based Multiplay tells Sam Clay it’s time to invest, big time.

Pro gaming is an odd subject, as many find it daunting to cover or understand what is actually going on.

“I visited Multiplay’s i47 event over the weekend, spent time with the gamers, and spoke to many people with names like ‘phazer’ ‘tazer’ and ‘lazer’”

We’ve all watched thousands of people play games for huge cash prizes and yet, some still don’t quite understand what’s going on. I myself admit to having little knowledge about the genre.

Over the weekend, I visited Multiplay’s i47 event and spent time with and spoke to many people with pseudonyms like ‘phazer’ ‘tazer’ and ‘lazer’ – greeting them in slightly the same way a stray dog would. There were moments when I’d speak to someone ‘big’ in the industry and simply just say, “What the hell do you do? What is your job? Who are you?”, like a really uncool kid.

After soaking in the atmosphere and getting sweaty from all the heat 2,000 PCs kick out, it occurred to me that most of the people in the room wouldn’t attend such events like EG Expo or Gamescom – they’d never show up to see the latest games. These are gamers who are hardcore for community, a family of players who want to be competitive and be rewarded for their skills, while at the same time being only 100ft from a beer bar.

Most attendees don’t even bother enter the pro-tournaments: I spoke with one group which simply attends just to play DayZ together. For those who care, they’re currently at the North-West airfield, all 15 of them. In other words, stay the hell away from the Airfield. Even Dean Hall doesn’t go there.

So, what’s going on with e-sports then?

The following morning I collared Craig Fletcher, MD at Multiplay, for an interview: only moments after he attempted to announce something over the venue’s Tannoy system and sounding similar to a race-caller at the track.

However, I didn’t find him in an office hidden away somewhere like some Bond Villain, instead, he was actually at the tuck shop serving. I found it heartening to see the boss man at work, getting stuck in. Respect points sir. I’ll fist bump you sometime.

With plenty to discuss, I pulled Fletcher in front of my camera, turned a bright light on, and spoke nonsense to him. Our conversation in full is featured in the video at the start of the post.

Is pro gaming something you’d be interested to hear more about? If so, how would you like it to be covered? Let me know in the comments section.

Photo credit: Multiplay

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6 Comments

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  1. NinjaMidget

    Definitely intriguing to watch. I didn’t realise there was such a big culture for it outside of Korea and the US. It’d be cool to here more about it! :)

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Yoshi

    Awesome video :D

    Are you going to be attending the next LAN? Would love to see more coverage and maybe I’ll be at the next one as well, might actually see you this time :P

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Sam Clay

    By the looks of it, I’ll definitely be attending i48. It’s more than likely you’ll see more coverage of the tournaments, maybe even some streams.

    And indeed, I’ll come and say hi! :)

    #3 1 year ago
  4. egl_glen

    I agree with some points, disagree with others, but, hopefully this 0will highlight Esports to the more casual gamer, but, I would like to point out for the record, a comment @ 4.12.

    Craig has said word for word

    “1st question…what do you mean by the forefront of esports? If you talk just UK, absolutely, there is no one doing these size events we are doing with the amount of prize money, with the professional production…We are well ahead in that regard”

    I feel this is both unfair to the scene and fully untrue.

    Size – On an Esports prospective, depending what event/time of year, European Gaming League (the other regular UK Esports event, mainly aimed at console), comparing our last two events (I47 and EGL8), EGL had 344 competitive players in one tournament alone, while I47 had the same amount spread over its 5 team based tournaments.

    Prize Money – Again, I would like to say it is almost on par between EGL/MP, both events work on a sliding scale (bar one or two tournaments)

    Professional Production – Even though our media team only work at our events, as they are working Television professionals that cover live sporting events, I would say EGL production is just as good. This can also be seen in the streaming statistics, again, im using EGL8 vs I47, The COD final on the Xbox peaked at 12,000 concurrent viewers vs 1,200.

    I hope that VG24/7 cover more competitive gaming/esport events, as there are lots of other companies working just as hard for UK Esports, these include European Gaming League (the company I work for), Heaven Media and Epic Lan.

    Also in my opinion, the only UK company that can call itself the forefront of Esports is Team Dignitas, who are the only true global uk brand in Esports. (even though I think TCM Gaming deserve some recognition as well)

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Wizzo

    Multiplay has been at the forefront of multiplayer gaming events and eSports since it’s very inception. Over the last 18 years I’ve been running events, we have hosted many hundreds of tournaments and given away over £500k in prize money. Most of this prize money has come in the last five years.

    i47, like our other November events, is our smallest event of the year by some margin. However, it is still much larger than any other comparable event in the UK in terms of footfall and reach. Our main events are 2-3 times i47 size in terms of tournament and BYOC attendance.

    For example, Insomnia46 (August 2012) had just under 1800 tournament entrants across over 20 tournaments and a total prize fund of £>30k. Visitors to the event topped 5k in one day. The live streaming and website coverage reached over 1.5 million unique users worldwide.

    The noted quality of our in-house event production and live streaming has lead to us being asked to run large productions and events for big names in the games industry internationally.

    I am aware there are other up and coming events in the UK. It is a great thing for UK eSports that more people are getting involved and spreading the word. However, you can see from the above why I stand by my original statement.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Sam Clay

    Appreciating the chatter on this one guys, it’s definitely something we are taking note of – Interest is clearly here.

    I hope we’ll be able to discuss more in the new year about how we can cover these sorts of events more efficiently and also making them easier to follow.

    It’s opened my eyes, and even more so the sites. Exciting times ahead. :)

    #6 1 year ago