Gfinity’s head of partner relations Martin Wyatt discusses why the UK “is a sleeping giant in the world of esports”
When we speak to Martin Wyatt, it’s the day before Gfinity’s Elite Series kicks off at the company’s own esports stadium, grafted onto the back of a Vue cinema in Fulham Broadway. For Wyatt, who joined in 2013 and is now Gfinity’s head of partner relations, it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and planning, but also the start of a golden age for UK esports.
“It’s going to be a very positive picture over the next 12 months, because what is happening in the UK industry from any sports’ perspective is incredibly positive,” says Wyatt. “The fact that the quality of esports tournaments and content being created is starting to increase across the board, instead of being led solely by one or two particular companies, is really encouraging.”
Wyatt also mentions that as more people start to invest in UK tournaments, it not only attracts more teams from further afield, but it also means production values can increase. As a result, it’s never been easier to keep up to date with UK esports.
Wyatt states: “We have to be realistic. I don’t think the UK scene as a whole is going to explode and start hitting some of the busy heights that we’ve seen from real tier one titles and esports tournaments. I think the forecast of growth is a very positive picture indeed.”
That said, he also “absolutely” thinks that the UK is lagging behind. “Acknowledging that the UK esports scene is slightly behind North America, parts of Europe and Korea is just a sensible perspective to take. But at the same time, I and Gfinity as a business take the view that the UK is a sleeping giant in the world of esports."
“Acknowledging that the UK esports scene is slightly behind North America, parts of Europe and Korea is just a sensible perspective to take. But at the same time, I and Gfinity as a business take the view that the UK is a sleeping giant in the world of esports."
“There’s an abundance of talent here that just needs to be found, and I believe Gfinity has the skills and the investment needed to shine a big spotlight on the UK.”
With that in mind, Gfinity is also investing heavily in grassroots esports, with its Challenger Series providing a clear path of progression for amateur athletes. Those that impress in the Challenger Series can then easily move up to the Elite Series.
“One of the roles of Gfinity as a business is to take responsibility to drive some of that growth,” Wyatt continues. “We’re driving that participation growth, we’re driving the excitement around the UK esports industry, and we’re driving and taking responsibility for pushing the scene forward as quickly as possible.”
Wyatt thinks there’s plenty of talent in the UK scene. Competitors are just starved for a good platform to compete on and hone their craft. This is where Gfinity’s Challenger Series comes in.
“The ultimate goal of the Challenger Series is to provide infinitely more participation opportunities for people that want to start having competitive gaming experiences. Here, they can do that in a safe place with some real strong incentives.”
Creating this narrative, and elevating UK esports players to the position of role models, is a key part of Gfinity’s plan to wake up the UK’s esports industry.
“When you see a successful execution of anything sporting wise, for example the 2012 Olympics, the Rugby World Cup, even going back as far as Euro ‘96, and they’re executed well, it stimulates the population to be involved.
“We are totally aware that there are a few key things that, in the UK, need to be fixed in order to really start aggressively accelerating how we catch up to the rest of the world, and that’s part of the Elite Series. “We want it to follow the same model, so as we start to broadcast the tournaments, and people start to see how seriously we’re taking it, one of the things that we’re excited about is that it will stimulate and excite gamers everywhere to want to start competing more and build careers for themselves.
“Gfinity has done probably more for the UK esports scene than any other company out there, because we are passionate about esports. We’re very humble and very, very grateful for the support that we as a business have been shown by the esports community, and we’re looking to continue to do all we can for the UK.”