National Student Esports (NSE), the new official body that aims to support the development of the university esports landscape, was revealed on Wednesday at an invitational event for student societies from across the UK.
Revealed at the recently opened Red Bull Gaming Sphere in London, NSE will also operate the first official university esports championship.
NSE was created by Benchmark, a global group of organisations including Sport Industry Group, that specialise in the development of sport and entertainment related networks, and is supported by British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), the national governing body for university sport in the UK.
By working with student organisations and game publishers - as well as BUCS to leverage their knowledge, relationships and infrastructure across the higher education sector - NSE aims to raise the profile of university esports and create the best university esports experience worldwide. Their goal will be to build the community and to enrich and support the student experience at universities. By partnering with BUCS, NSE will also look to bring the higher education sector and the esports industry together to recognise the exceptional talent of student leaders in the esports and gaming space.
During the announcement, the team revealed their plans which will kick off at the start of the 2018/19 academic year. The official university esports championships will begin in October 2018 and will be among the first university competitions backed by a governing body. Alongside the championships, NSE will provide a programme of support for university societies and a first-of-it’s-kind digital community platform.
BUCS supports and promotes the lifestyle and educational benefits to communities and individuals of taking part in sport, and provides outstanding opportunities to all students to engage in sport and physical activity in higher education. Their league programme currently consists of over 6,000 teams entered in 900 leagues, and over 140 championship events every year. Benchmark is the group parent company of five organisations working with more than 175 partners and clients globally. The two bodies, which bring together university infrastructure and commercial expertise, recognised the unique nature of competitive gaming and are joined by an independent team of esports specialists with experience of the university space who will lead NSE.
“The passion and commitment of the university esports community is outstanding and we believe it deserves further recognition and support,” said Vince Mayne, chief executive officer of British Universities & Colleges Sport. “Our experience stems from university sport and we are aware that esports does not need to be defined in this way. This is why we’ve partnered with experts in their field and why NSE will exist as a separate entity. It’s important that the community is listened to and that we provide a platform to unite and support students around the UK like never before.”
"It's my ambition to build the strongest esports scene and community in Europe and to push the UK scene on an international level," said Mo Fadl, head of UK Esports for Riot Games. "The more opportunities we can offer to students, the stronger our talent pool will become. As an industry it's vital to elevate all levels of competitive players to help strengthen the ecosystem and widen the pool of professional players of the future."
Jonathan Tilbury, executive director of National Student Esports, added: “Esports is already one of the largest competitive activities on campus but largely goes under the radar. Most major universities have an active society and participation in university competitions eclipses all other national esports competitions. Over the next few months we’ll be working with societies to make sure NSE is shaped according to their needs. Through the support from BUCS and Benchmark, we’ll be able to ensure these needs are met.”
NSE will be incubated inside Benchmark, where it will benefit from the group’s network of connections.