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Esports is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries

South West colleges to host region’s biggest esports festival

Joe Bevan
Authored by Joe Bevan
Posted: Sunday, October 16, 2022 - 23:00

The region’s biggest esports event has returned for its second year, as five colleges announce a partnership with Tech South West.

Esports, or competitive gaming, is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with a global revenue of over $1bn and an audience of 474m in 2021, according to Newzoo.

The first South West Esports Festival took place in February this year, hosted by Exeter College and Tech South West. Sixteen teams took part, from organisations including the Exeter Chiefs, the Met Office, Jurassic Fibre, Ashfords LLP, Devon County Council, Ghyston and Singer Instruments, with Bath-based software firm Rocketmakers taking home the trophy.

Now, Tech South West and five major colleges from across the region are joining forces to showcase the leading role the South West can play in this booming sector.

In early 2023, Bridgwater & Taunton College, City College Plymouth, South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, Cornwall College and Exeter College will each host a regional heat for the tournament, in which corporate teams from across the South West will take part.

The top three teams from each heat will go through to the final, hosted by Exeter College at their flagship Digital and Data Centre during May half term.

As winners of the inaugural festival in February this year, Rocketmakers will automatically qualify for the final.

Rory Mason, Vice Principal of Quality of Education at The Cornwall College Group, said: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of the dynamic and booming gaming industry, training the next generation of esports stars and esports facilitators.

“This event will give businesses in Cornwall the chance to have a fantastic fun day out, energise their teams through a thrilling gaming tournament and get the chance to go to the regional final in Exeter. They will also get to mix with other businesses and organisations in the county, which will only help to strengthen their own business ties and opportunities.”

The festival will showcase the careers available in the sector, and provide an opportunity for students at the colleges to assist with the delivery of the festival and use their marketing, event management and organisational skills in a real-world environment.

The event will also shine a spotlight on the cutting edge facilities available in the South West.

Sam Pomeroy, Programme Lead at City College Plymouth, said: ““The college is excited to be part of this event which we hope will be mutually beneficial for students and employers and offer great networking opportunities for all concerned. There will be a cross-college effort to arrange this high-profile event, with students from a variety of departments able to put their developing skills into practice.”

Rob Bosworth, Deputy CEO of Exeter College, said: “Esports is one of the fastest growing industries in the country and as an outstanding college we are proud to have spearheaded the first esports festival in the south west earlier this year.

“We are delighted that next year it’s going to be bigger and better with esports festivals, not only at our college, but across the region. This is a huge statement for Further Education Colleges, the role they play in the community, and the impact they can have when working in collaboration.”

Ben Pople, Higher Education Course Leader at Bridgwater & Taunton College, said: "The rapid growth of esports is opening up exciting new career opportunities across the globe - whether in marketing, event management, games development, Computing or competitive gaming itself. 

“At Bridgwater & Taunton College we are delighted to be supporting young people to develop their skills in these areas, and to be showcasing the potential for the South West to become a beacon of esports in the UK. The festival will be a great showcase for the region and for the facilities, the innovation and the talented young people that we are so lucky to have."

Nikki Livingstone, Esports Lecturer and Academy Coach at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, said: "South Gloucestershire and Stroud College is proud to be supporting the delivery of the South West Esports Festival, and showcasing the fantastic opportunities associated with the esports industry. We are now in our second year of running the Pearson Esports BTEC at SGS College and we also have a dedicated Esports Academy that specialises in VALORANT and Rocket League. Our students will benefit from helping to deliver the festival, as organisations from across the region come together to compete."

Tech is already the fastest growing part of the South West economy, with esports expected to play an increasingly significant role in the sector in the coming decade.

Dan Pritchard, co-founder and director of Tech South West, said: “The South West is home to some fantastic digital facilities and is a powerhouse of createch innovation. These factors, combined with a disproportionately high number of technical students and a highly collaborative community, put the region in pole position as the UK’s natural home of esports innovation.

“We are delighted to be working with colleges from across the South West to showcase the region’s strengths and promote the opportunities associated with the rise of esports.”

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