The UK are easily our most comparable counterpart when it comes to the growth of eSports. There are a number of distinct differences, such as infrastructure, economy, and location, but they’re also sitting behind the giants of Europe and North America and that gap might just get a bit bigger depending on today’s “Brexit” vote in the United Kingdom.
What is “Brexit”? It’s the British Exit from the European Union, something Prime Minister David Cameron made a crucial part of his campaign during his reelection in 2015. Joining the European Union in the 1970s, Britain has always been at an arm’s length. The EU allows easier trade agreements and travel between all countries in the Union, and it’s these loose immigration laws that have driven a large percentage of people to vote for the Brexit after the recent year’s terrorism threats. However, the official vote is today and while there are large economic repercussions for the UK leaving the EU, there are also the fears that this would damage the eSports scene both in the UK and the rest of the world.
In an article by eSports Observer the pros and cons of the Brexit are clearly outlined. The piece offers a much more in-depth analysis of the situation currently unfolding, but for your benefit, let’s look at the highlights of the information given. eSports Observer spoke to Joe Hills, Associate Director and AGP, a recruitment agency with a focus on eSports.
The light at the end of the tunnel for most British gamers is that the UK is starting to recognize eSports. In April the eGames Initiative was launched at the London Games Festival which sparked government interest in competitive gaming which does show that there is internal interest in competitive gaming regardless of the EU’s rules and legislations put in place.
However, even tough the government has recognized eSports, there’s no argument that the EUs current model for eSport works, and the ease of access for players within the EU makes it all easier. The decision of a yes vote means that politically the UK would be able to make their own rules and legislation without the influence of EU, but why fix what isn’t broken?
Polish team Virtus.Pro at the recent Gfinity CS:GO tournament in London.
Freedom of travel is the biggest issue many voters are facing today, and that’s not only for eSports. With the current inclusion in the European Union, citizens can travel freely to any country with a passport. With the vote to leave, players in and out of the UK will have to undergo the usual lengthy Visa process to gain access to the UK, a process which has damaged eSports in the past. Just take a look at the number of cases which have plagued the United States. Many British gamers are urging people to vote against as it will directly affect their income and inclusion in European tournaments. This will also largely affect the new organization Gfinity who have been hosting major tournaments in London for the past two years.
The Brexit decision will have a large impact on the British economy, and from what I’ve read there’s really very little positives coming out of the UK leaving the European Union. Right now the future of UK eSports hangs in the balance, and whatever plans Prime Minister David Cameron has for the UK better work out, however they’re always welcome to join us as a third world eSports country.