The UK has historically had a strong background in console games, but in recent years we’ve produced more talent in a wider variety of titles – including competitive PC games.
As part of a new quarterly series where British Esports highlights this talent, Bryony-Hope Green and Dominic Sacco take a look at what achievements players and teams have made during the first quarter of 2021.
The UK scene came out swinging in early 2021, following a difficult year that saw many tournaments cancelled or postponed or held purely online due to the pandemic.
World of Warcraft-focused organisation Method brought on board Excel Esports co-founder Joel-Holmes Darby as general manager, and also finished seventh in the Mythic Castle Nathria Race to World First in World of Warcraft. The news came following a big rebuild for the organisation.
It was also a great month for UK CSGO.
Endpoint announced a new ROG Academy to help young UK CSGO players go pro, led by George ‘Whitey’ White, plus they also were named as a partner team in the $1.2m Home Sweet Home CSGO season, alongside fellow UK organisation Vexed.
One UK CSGO player, crit, had also entered the year having won four NUEL Championships in a row with his team, UWE Sea Stags.
Elsewhere, London Spitfire announced a new roster including UK hitscan DPS talent Dominic ‘Hybrid’ Grove, while Manchester City set a new FIFAe Club World Cup qualifying record as the sole UK team in the 2021 tournament.
On the League of Legends front, a pro rugby player began coaching for Godsent’s League of Legends NLC esports team in his free time: Jamal ‘Makinui’ Ford-Robinson.
And we bid a fond farewell to UK League of Legends player and caster, James ‘The Governor’ Gove, who announced his retirement from esports.
After a strong start to the year, the UK scene kept delivering – securing wins and signing new teams.
Firstly, UK Rocket League teams from Guild, Endpoint, Top Blokes, as well as others, fought their way through the qualifiers of the RLCS X Winter European Major, and Guild managed to secure themselves a top four finish in the semi-finals.
In the realm of Fortnite, Higgsy managed to win the Combat Gaming charity tournament with a $50,000 prize pool – whilst Benjyfishy, Arsenal player Aubameyang and Spanish streamer TheGrefg finished in second place. The pool was split between the top three teams, and all money was donated to the charity or cause of the players’ choice.
The start of February saw two major signings – Fnatic signeda UK Valorant team with the likes of Jake ‘Boaster’ Howlett, James ‘Mistic’ Orfila and Muhammad ‘Moe40’ Hariff. And Guild Esports added Tai ‘TaySon’ Starčič to their Fortnite roster – solidifying their stellar team.
Alongside major teams signing players, Wolves Esports (a branch of Premier League team Wolverhampton Wanderers FC) appointed Michael ‘DuckMoriarty’ Moriarty as the team’s esports manager.
Within the FIFA scene, UK content creator Daniel ‘Amenyah’ secured himself a job within G2 Esports and €10,000 after winning their ‘Making the Squad’ TV Show. As well as this, pro FIFA players battled it out in ‘eLions: The Eliminator’ to represent England in the 2021 FIFAe Nations Cup.
For League of Legends, former Fnatic Rising teammates Carl ‘MagiFelix’ Boström (Astralis) and Daniel ‘Dan’ Hockley (Excel) faced each other in the LEC.
In Overwatch, the schedule for the upcoming season of the Overwatch League was released, and will see London Spitfire go up against LA Gladiators in their first match.
Ending the month was the online epic32 event – with UMX Gaming (CSGO) and The Last Resort (R6) each taking the top spot in their designated titles, among other winners.
March was another busy month for UK esports.
Guild Esports secured their first esports trophy after winning the FNCS in Fortnite, with their player Hen forming part of the trio that secured the number one spot, and $300,000 in winnings.
Flikk and Anas, Guild’s other Fortnite players, also formed part of the trio that took second place, securing $210,000, while TaySon’s trio secured eighth place and $60,000 in winnings.
Guild also held a Sunday Super Stream with celebs and announced a partnership with Subway.
Another top UK org, Excel Esports, moved into Valorant, announcing a roster led by former G2 player Davidp.
In Rainbow Six, Navi won the UK and Ireland Nationals. Their team beat Cowana in the finals and includes UK players such as Doki.
In Rocket League, UK team Top Blokes secured investment, with the investor group backing the team to be revealed.
Looking to CSGO, UK org Endpoint began participating in the high-tier ESL Pro League, and picked up an impressive 2-0 victory over Fnatic. The ESL Premiership CSGO tournament also returned for UK and Ireland teams.
Elsewhere, British sim racer Sebastian Job won the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports title, and British FIFA player Shellzz lifted the ePremier League trophy for Manchester City. LDN UTD also signed a Valorant team, UK Fortnite player Magin and UK FIFA streamer Shauna Games. It was also the Royal Navy Video Games and Esports Association’s first anniversary.
But March was mainly a month for League of Legends.
In the lower-tier UKEL, Lucent Esports (managed by British Esports’ own social media manager William Gleadall) won that tournament. Then in the mid-tier UKLC, Resolve beat London Esports 3-2 to win UKLC Spring 2021 League of Legends finals. While they didn’t manage to progress through the Telia Masters to the upper-tier NLC, they did put up a good fight against other teams in Northern Europe.
Speaking of the NLC, BT Excel broke their curse to win the tournament, ending Fnatic Rising’s reign in UK LoL in the process.
In the LEC, UK casting talent Excoundrel and Foxdrop made a few guest appearances. And ESL UK announced a Premiership for Wild Rift, Riot Games’ new League of Legends mobile game.
Finally, UK TFT player Lallana qualified for the TFT Fates Championship.
Did we miss anyone? Please let us know if there are other UK esports talent that had some impressive achievements in Q1 2021 – and we can update this article!
London-based organisation Fnatic picked up a promising UK Valorant team in February
UK FIFA pro player Shellzz won the 2020/21 ePremier League in March