Chinese company Tencent, who have brought games such as League of Legends, Arena of Valor and Clash Royale to the forefront of esports, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK Department of International Trade to help boost their relationship with the UK government. As a result, the esteemed University of Oxford will be hosting esports tournaments and offering courses to raise the profile of esports in the UK, though the contents of the esports courses and details surrounding it are yet to be shared.
Tencent are no strangers to success
Tencent are a company that can be relied on for having positive appeal and impact in esports; League of Legends is one of, if not the biggest esport in the world, and the recent announcement of the Clash Royale League has received support and backing from major organisations such as Cloud9, 100 Thieves and Team Solomid amongst others. They also have part-ownership of Epic Games, the brain behind mainstream hit Fortnite: Battle Royale. Lau Seng Yee, senior executive vice president of Tencent, said that "Openness, partnership and sharing at a global level have become our common vision for the future of human development in this digital era, within this context, the Memorandum of Understanding is of great significance."
What does this mean for UK esports?
UK esports often suffers from under-representation, despite being one of the largest esports economies in the world. A partnership that gives Tencent incentive to invest in the development of UK esports, both in terms of talent and representation, signals hope for the future. If the Memorandum of Understanding proves to be a success, there may be many more opportunities for esports fans in the future. With major events such as ESL One Birmingham and the FACEIT Major both occurring in the UK, all signs are pointing to success for UK esports. The collaboration will also cover the rest of the cultural industries, such as a British version of its popular racing game QQ Speed. Oxford will not be the first UK university to offer esports courses, though they may be the most prestigious. In the UK, both York and Staffordshire have started offering esports courses whilst in the USA, many universities now offer not only courses but collegiate scholarships for the best players.