As Manchester prepares to host a major esports tournament, the UK’s first-ever international Blast Rainbow Six Major in May 2024, we’re exploring how the UK’s leading sporting city is trading on its tech skills to become the UK’s new esports Hub. 

Why esports?

Esports refers to organised video gaming events or tournaments in which professional and amateur players compete against one another for glory. The industry is snowballing, with gamers streaming tournaments across the globe. Currently, the esports audience is made up of around 532m people worldwide and the industry is predicted to be worth $1.8 billion by 2025. In the UK, the esports sector currently supports over 1,200 jobs and is rapidly growing

Why Manchester?

Manchester is a city renowned for both its sporting greats and tech innovations. The city boasts world-famous football teams, is the home of British Cycling, has birthed sporting legends and is often chosen as a host venue for global sporting events. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Manchester is a destination that has been synonymous with sport for many years.

However, Manchester is also the birthplace of the first electronic stored-program computer and has a burgeoning tech sector which continues to push boundaries and innovate. The city-region is also home to a rapidly growing gaming industry, it's already home to companies including Smashmouth Games, Cloud Imperium, Rezzil and Fabrik Games. Across Manchester, the world-leading universities and innovative education providers are supporting the next generation of gaming, Esport and tech talent

Esports perfectly blends the region’s competitive sporting history with its passion for technology and innovation. It’s therefore no surprise that Manchester becoming a hub for Esports and embracing this new era of competition.

Here are some of the ways Greater Manchester is embracing Esports.

Image credit: Blast

Champions on and off the pitch

Not only are Manchester City and Manchester United champions on the pitch, they’re also embracing the world of Esports. Both teams have their own Esports team made up of professional and international esports players and content creators.

Manchester City’s team competes in both Fortnite and is competing in the EA Sports FC 24, home to the biggest competitions, leagues, and players across the men's and women's games. The Esports team has over 24.4 m followers on TikTok, over 42,000 YouTube views and a growing following on Twitch.

Manchester United’s Esports team competed in the eFootball Championship Pro 2022 competition by Konami alongside seven other professional esports teams; Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Celtic, Monaco, Roma and Galatasaray.

Both iconic Manchester clubs are embracing the new era of sport. Entering the world of Esports is a way to bring their fans closer to football than ever before and to add another layer to their competitive nature, but it also provides the opportunity to explore new gaming opportunities and connect with new fans.

HOST Gametch

HOST Gametech located in Salford’s MediaCityUK is Greater Manchester’s only purpose-built esports campus, offering a unique and collaborative approach to gaming and skills. With a dedicated space for tournaments, training, education, broadcasting and live streaming, the HOST Gametech campus is creating an unmatched support network for gaming businesses, innovators and students alike. This network allows individuals across Greater Manchester with a passion for esports to connect with businesses and form meaningful careers, acting as a launchpad for Greater Manchester’s Esports industry.

Supported by Skills City Digital Skills Bootcamps, the campus aims to open up career opportunities in virtual production, broadcasting and streaming, game design, game development and more. It also offers educational partners and local gaming companies around the North West the opportunity to share the space in hopes to educate and train a wider range of people from across the region.

The University of Salford

The University of Salford offers the perfect opportunity for students to turn their love for gaming into a stable, successful and fulfilling career. It’s Undergraduate course Esports Business Management as part of the Salford Business School allows students to learn in a bespoke and immerseive environment with an esports tournament arena, broadcasting equipment and lab. The modules are designed to prepare students for all aspects of the industry from content creation, to planning and designing tournaments, improving broadcasting tech skills to examining the eco-systems within esports. It also integrates students into the esports ecosystem, with collaborations with industry titans and grassroots organisations across Greater Manchester.

It also boasts its own esports society and The University of Salford now has a designated Esports researcher to help build on its knowledge of this expanding sector, in a sure sign that it’s capabilities in the space are set to improve.

Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University’s School of Digital Arts (SODA) is supercharging the region’s capabilities in media, technology, creativity and gaming. With an interdisciplinary approach and study programmes that are not only grounded in the present with connections to industry, but let students explore the future and innovation in digital arts.

Its courses in Games Art and Games Design blend technical know-how with creative thinking to encourage the next wave of games professionals. The school itself benefits from state of the art edit and audio suites, a VR studio, User Experience testing suite and many multipurpose studios which encourage collaborative working among creatives.

The University itself hosted a series of events in 2023 named ‘Understanding The World of Esports: Esports Science Series 2023’ which brought together researchers, academics, industry professionals and gaming enthusiasts to discuss the esports industry through different lenses. The series aimed to understand the industry dynamics, global impact and community aspects of esports and brought together global experts in the space from Argentina, America, Sweden, Finland and more.

Esports at Hopwood Hall College and University

Rochdale’s Hopwood Hall College and University offers Level 2 and Level 3 diplomas in Esports to help passionate gamers forge a career in this growing and competitive global industry. With cutting edge esports suites with state-of-the-art tech the courses are endorsed by The British Esports Association. They cover game design, streaming, event planning and how to establish an esports organisations with branding and video production among other topics; providing essential tech and transferrable skills. The college also encourages live briefs in branding, advertising and video production to establish industry links as well as opportunities to compete in local and national gaming competitions. With its own Esports team and the opportunity to compete against other colleges, the course focuses on building connections in this exciting and fast-growing sector.


Blast Esports Rainbow Six Major

Between Thursday 16 and Sunday 26 May, Manchester’s B.E.C Arena is playing host to the UK’s first-ever Rainbow Six Esports Major. The BLAST R6 Major is one of the biggest international esports competitions, which attracts some of the world’s biggest players. Twenty of the world’s best teams will come to the city for a 3-phase competition, with the final being played in front of a live audience. Blast champions and elevates esports by creating world-class live and digital experiences, by working with some of the world’s best game publishers and brands, it can create unforgettable esports experiences for its fanbase of over 15 million people in 154 territories.

James Woollard, Director of Market Development for BLAST, said: "2024 is shaping up to be a record breaking year for the UK esports industry with more activity and arena events taking place here than anywhere else in the world - helping position the region as a global hub for esports and big-scale events. These events will not only create opportunities for fans to watch tier one esports, but will contribute to important economical investment in the United Kingdom. Ubisoft and BLAST choosing the Northwest and Manchester to host the Rainbow Six Major is testament to the event landscape the region has to offer along with its proud record of hosting world-leading events. The city will not only receive millions of pounds in economic investment, we are also confident the tournament will leave a lasting local legacy for esports and gaming growth in the future."

The UK has long been a core region for the Esports ecosystem and is home to several successful players and teams. The Blast Rainbow Six Major in Manchester will give these competitors a chance to shine on home soil and celebrate the city’s status as an esports hub. As this passion for gaming continues, and the esports industry grows, Manchester is establishing itself as a leading destination for talent, innovations and Esports destinations.

If you’re looking to bring your Esports event to Manchester and would like to take advantage of Manchester’s brilliant facilities and wealth of expertise, contact the Manchester Convention Bureau Team.

The team are on hand to support Bid Production, Venue Sourcing and can even help you organise accommodation for large-scale events amongst other services. With access to experts in fields including technology and gaming, the Manchester Convention Bureau has the connections to make your event a success.