On November 8th and 9th, fresh faces, industry upcomers and seasoned veterans alike descended upon BOXPARK Wembley, London, for two days of networking, education, and fun.
An all-star esports ensemble discussed industry commercialisation, investment, diversity & inclusion, sustainability, and everything in-between as Esports Insider welcomed some of the industry’s brightest minds back to a physical venue for the first time in two years.
A jubilant atmosphere at BOXPARK Wembley saw relationships forged, axes thrown and plenty of food devoured. But for those who missed it, here is a recap and key takeaways from ESI London.
Commercialisation and revenue growth were discussed, investment and sustainability debated, physical esports venues pondered and diversity critically assessed in a wealth of talks over the two day conference.
Whether it was understanding partnerships, discussing diversity or assessing the future esports landscape, education emerged as a key theme throughout the ESI London panels.
Specialists in the overlap between cryptocurrency and esports filled guests in on the ever-deepening link between the two industries. Moreover, C-level executives from esports organisations and investment firms debated post-pandemic revenue streams, data experts YouGov provided insights into esports fan behaviour, and bright minds highlighted the moral — and business — imperatives for greater diversity in esports.
Recaps and recordings of the panels will be released across Esports Insider’s media platforms over the coming weeks.
Physical events are back
ESI London marked the return of physical esports conferences, bringing with it that irreplaceable ambience of face-to-face discussion, debate, and play.
Passion, entertainment, competition, and innovation are the lifeblood of the esports industry, and all four were on display at ESI London – especially during the minigolf. Troves of interesting industry inhabitants celebrated a return to in-person action – and the announcement that more are on the horizon.
Esports Insider’s first event since the start of the pandemic also brought news of ESI’s 2022 events calendar, announced by Managing Directior & Co-Founder, Sam Cooke, during the conference’s opening remarks. Major 2-3 day conferences are planned to take place in Dubai, Washington DC, Singapore, and London, a truly international trajectory for ESI Events.
Jason Margrave, Executive Director – Development at Quintain Ltd, commented: “We were delighted to sponsor ESI London this year and welcome the people and brands pioneering the esports industry to Wembley Park.
“From iconic venues and exceptional office space to full digital connectivity across the neighbourhood, Wembley Park has a lot to offer the video gaming community and we look forward to continuing to work with this exciting sector.”
Dynamic Networking — choose your own adventure
Networking events and business conferences are fantastic ways to build upon one’s network, learn more about the players in the industry and improve understanding of how it works. Whether it was sat down over a meal, quick exchanges using ESI London’s networking app, bellied up over drinks, or a glance at the name badge and a fist-bump — ESI London at BOXPARK Wembley gave attendees brilliant opportunities to step out of their comfort zone or enjoy the safe space.
Panelists mixed with attendees, offering ample opportunities for organic introductions and establishing rapport over the DM sliding and cold-emailing the past year and a half has been reduced to. With plenty of flat surfaces to whip out a laptop to shoot off some emails, or show off a pitch deck, the two-day conference also allowed enough room to step out for a breather along Olympic Way.
What ESI London highlighted was that people want to physically speak with other like-minded people. While Discord, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other services have been invaluable during the pandemic, one of the main takeaways from ESI London was the importance of connection.
We’ve got a long way to go as an industry in esports but events like #ESILondon remind me how many great people we have involved and it makes me even more bullish about the future of our space!
— Kieran Holmes-Darby (@KieranHDarby) November 10, 2021
Work & Play — a different type of hybrid event
ESI London certainly wasn’t your grandfather’s business conference, giving a new meaning to the term ‘hybrid event’. Exclusively offline, ESI London aimed to be more than just a business and networking event. With over a dozen eateries, three (open) bars, and plenty of extracurricular activities, BOXPARK Wembley hosted loads of choice for spending time between panels, presentations, and meetings.
Monday night’s ESI Supper Club was sponsored by Fladgate, feeding and fueling lively conversation in the BEATBOX section of the venue. Upstairs the same night, fluorescent golf balls shot about to the tune of modern pop tracks in the neon seared Pop Golf course.
Tuesday saw the SPORTFIVE sponsored Esports x Brands Workshop, educating and entertaining industry vets and brand representatives of the potentials the industry offers. Hotdrop’s axe throwing competition, affectionately named Hotchop, had attendees hurling axes at bullseyes Tuesday evening while Swipe Right PR’s Karaoke night rounded off the conference’s activities.
MeetspaceVR offered eight virtual-reality shooter experiences to attendees. For those preferring adrenaline from high-speeds, Veloce’s racing simulator was set-up outside the VR experience.
In the flesh – it feels good to be back
More than 350 people poured through the doors of BOXPARK Wembley across the two days. A sign, if any was needed, that while digital solutions such as ESI’s Digital events were a welcome opportunity to learn and connect during the mundanity of lockdowns — sharing a laugh, a meal, and a drink in-person just hits different.
In-person and on social media, attendees and panelists expressed a candid appreciation for sharing physical space and facetime among members of the industry once again. Stepping off stage to engage further with the crowd about their topics, rather than closing a Zoom call and going back to whatever they were doing before, was a particularly welcome novelty for panelists.
Nearly all attendees remarked how fantastic it was to meet ‘internet friends’ in-person for the first time and to see friendly faces again for the first time in many months. The international event hosted attendees from all over the globe where travel-restrictions permitted, and offered a teaser of what’s to come in the year ahead.
Had a great time at #ESILondon meeting lots of new faces and reconnecting with old ones, as well as taking part in an important panel on D&I (and why businesses should care!) alongside @SunkernGG and @Syrzex, moderated by @magnavox_13 (+ thanks @richardtbrown87 for the photos!) pic.twitter.com/q4GxzUUqO5
— Mitsouko (@Mitsouko) November 9, 2021
“The entire ESI team is tremendously pleased with the turnout and reception of ESI London’s grand return!” Sam Cooke commented. “Thanks to everyone who attended, and to those who weren’t able to this year, we look forward to seeing you at one, or all, of our Majors next year.”