February 20, 2009

UK Launches New Video Gaming League

Video game fanatics are gearing up for a new professional gaming league starting Friday, as the UK's eSports association (UKeSA) has set up four professional and 22 amateur gaming leagues, BBC News reported.

Gamers can compete on a variety of consoles, including PC, Xbox 360, Wii, or PS3 on up to 14 different titles such as Counter-Strike: Source, FIFA 09, and Call of Duty 4.

The Championship Gaming Series folded at the end of 2008 when its principal media backers pulled out, and the new tournament's organizers are hoping to avoid a similar fate.

The UKeSA's chairman, Ray Mia, said he has big plans for e-sport in the UK.

"We've been planning this for several weeks and have put three levels in place: an open level where people play for fun, a semi-pro level that we hope will encourage people from all sectors, and then there is a pro-gaming part which launches today."

Mia wants the UKeSA to be the Football Association of gaming, calling it the start of a planned process to make the UK the most prominent and profitable sports market in the world.

However, professional gaming leagues in the past have had their share of ups and downs.

"The UKeSA league shows promise. On the face of it, it all looks very good," said Tim Pointing, who helped set up one of the first British gaming leagues, the UK PC Games Championships, back in 1998.

However, Pointing referred to the gaming league failures of the past.

"One of the problems is that people see e-sports as a money making opportunity and, ultimately, own the sponsorship gateway," he said.

"I really want someone to pull together a federation that can act as a sporting body with the best interests of the sport in mind, rather than trying to milk it for cash. I wish UKeSA luck," he added.

Others are excited about the league's potential, like Michael O'Dell, who runs the professional team "Dignitas".

He told BBC News it was a good time to launch a new league, despite the difficult economic climate.

"The UKeSA is bringing structure to the sport and an organization to leagues we have not seen before."

He said that while the current economic climate may make it hard to get sponsors, people are still turning out to buy games.

"We're going to see a lot more people staying in and playing games. I don't think gaming will have a recession."


On The Net:

UK e-Sports Association

Team Dignitas