The eSports sector in the United Kingdom and Ireland is set to receive a major boost next month with the return of an exciting international tournament. The UK Esports League (UKEL) has confirmed it will reprise its role as an official Competitive Experience Partner of Riot Games for League of Legends (LOL) in the UK and Ireland.
The UKEL will be relaunching its League of Legends tournament structure under the brand ‘4 Nations’ – a nod to a successful competition that was staged almost ten years ago. Featuring players from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the tournament will provide opportunities for the best exponents of League of Legends to progress up the eSports ladder.
UKEL will establish a central hub where players, competitors and fans can engage with each other in the hope of creating a more vibrant League of Legends ecosystem.
With major sponsors, broadcasters and online gambling companies eager to forge links with eSports, the relaunched tournament is an exciting development for the sector in the UK and Ireland. Several Irish betting sites already offer odds on League of Legends tournaments, and their interest is guaranteed to have been spiked by the new competition.
The backing of respected sportsbooks, coupled with investment from sponsors and broadcasters, is crucial to the future growth of the eSports industry worldwide.
Marc Busby, the UKEL’s Founder & Managing Director, believes that fostering a community spirit will be vital to the success of the new League of Legends set-up:
To create a successful long-term ecosystem we need to build a community that feels engaged and passionate about all aspects of the ecosystem. For those who remember our last split, you can expect us to pick up where we left off in terms of both the quality broadcast and general operations.
We are committed to improving our product and will be putting increased effort into creating content, with a focus on building engaging and relatable storylines, working to empower teams and players through fandom. Our goal is to build a community of fans who are engaged with not just the UKEL, but also the teams, players and talent by showcasing their wins, struggles and development in a relatable manner.
The expected League of Legends tournament format
The league is scheduled to commence on September 18th and will culminate with a play-off series that runs from November 6-19.
Four slots in Division One are set to be allocated by an application process, while the remaining four are up for grabs during a qualifying competition. Dependent on the number of sign-ups and applications, UKEL may host a second division featuring teams who book their places in open qualifiers.
Each team must field at least three UK & Ireland resident players in their starting line-up for every match. Players must be aged 16 or more years old before September 18, 2023. Qualifying teams must maintain at least three to five of their starting roster from qualifiers to the split and can sign up to ten players in total.
The regular season format in the UKEL is a double round-robin, with teams playing best-of-one matches twice per week. The top six in the final table qualify for the play-offs, which will run on a double elimination, best-of-three, best-of-five finals format. There will also be promotion and relegation if two divisions are established, with the format to be announced at a later date if required.
An interesting element of the UKEL is the organisers have launched the tournament without any backing from external investors. However, the organisers are aiming to quickly develop the ‘4 Nations’ brand in the hope of attracting interest from companies already working in the eSports ecosystem.
With the Nordic countries and several other nations launching similar grassroots League of Legends tournaments, the UKEL’s decision to jump on the bandwagon could be well-timed.
UKEL Founder & Operations Director, Alex Winton, says he will be working tirelessly alongside Busby to establish the venture as a going concern:
It’s absolutely our goal to make this a sustainable full-time endeavour, though we’re under no illusion of the challenges we’ll face in doing that. For the time being, it will be done in our spare time, alongside a couple of other faces that we will be introducing in due course.
We will likely be relying on volunteers to begin with, as we did previously. I know this has been a contentious topic, but I believe we’ve taken a good approach to it in the past. We’ve received good feedback from previous volunteers about how it helped them go on to better things.
With that said, as soon as we’re in a financial position to compensate people we will do so.
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