Looking Back at 2021: The Year that Was
It’s becoming a bit of a tradition for Dave to sit down at the end of a year and spend some time chatting about everything the team has been up to… and to tease a few of the things that are being planned!
This time a year ago, Dave got to reflect on the successes of the team’s TCG players as they chased qualification for major events against the backdrop of a global pandemic, while he also talked about the plans to launch a local game store. Foundations were built in 2020… so how did the team get on in 2021?
In today’s blog post, Dave takes a look back at the year that was - covering everything from the launch of the team’s esports program, the LGS opening, and some of the things that are coming down the track in 2022.
2021: The Year That Was
2021 has been a really good year for us! Even though the pandemic rumbled on, our team of staff, players, and volunteers have done amazing work. We celebrated our 5th birthday as a team earlier this year, and surviving and thriving like we have done doesn't happen if there aren't brilliant people helping making it all happen!
This year saw us launch new rosters, open up our own local game store, and learn a whole heap of things as we tested the water in lots of different areas. Because of the things we've built this year, 2022 looks set to be a game-changing one for us as an organisation, and I can’t wait for the year to start.
We haven’t always got everything right, and not everything gone exactly to plan, but we’ve grown and adapted through the challenges that we’ve faced. It’s helped to make us a stronger team... so I wouldn't change any of it!
Esports: Launch and Growth
The global pandemic changed pretty much everything for us. We came into the year only running TCG teams... we had nothing in esports at all. Getting our esports teams off the ground has been massive for us, and I've loved seeing it all happen.
League of Legends was the first game we launched into - and as the world's biggest esport it made a lot of sense to start there! We dabbled with running a roster out in America and then a British-based WildRift roster, and we learnt a massive amount through getting those started.
The switch to bring the focus onto the EUW server and to the main, PC version of the game, was huge. The team we have now are brilliant. Max, Harry, Emily, Mike, Arwa, Ryan and Alastair are a really special group and they have been representing us in superb fashion. Seeing them win their very first Clash event - the first time they'd ever competed together - was really special. They've deserved every bit of success they've had since.
Right now we're getting our Pokemon Unite roster set up and running and I'm really excited to see how our first step into the scene goes. We have some really good people on board and there are some solid foundations to build on. We also have a League of Legends community team that are just starting to get going too!
Venue: Finally Open
After two years of planning and a couple of false starts, our local game store finally opened up. Having our own venue is something that, to be honest, we’ve wanted since we launched way back in 2016, so making it actually happen has been awesome.
In the summer, we won a place on Elevate - a business incubator program that runs from The Exchange in Birmingham - and it's thanks to them that we've been able to get things up and running. It's an amazing space to be able to have fun and play games in!
We wanted to create a space that felt like home for people, that was accessible for them, and that they were able to relax in. With the community that we've been building and the cheapest drinks and TCG products anywhere in the city, I think we’re well on our way to creating that.
We’ve learnt a lot since we opened in September, and we have lots of things planned for the New Year. We’re currently running events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with Magic: The Gathering, D&D, Pokemon, and lots of other games all on offer.
2022: What's Coming Up?
The last year has been a really good one for us, but I know it's just part of the journey and not the final destination. There's a lot more that we want to do and a lot more we want to build and grow. So, what’s coming down the track for 2022?
The biggest thing that 2022 will bring is the launch of our Esports Academy. We’re getting the last few things sorted at the moment, but we're not far away from the big reveal now. We'll be launching in the West Midlands first, then we'll be rolling out nationally as the year progresses.
The Academy will support people to earn industry-recognised esports qualifications, as well as getting any resits for Maths and English all sorted too. We've worked hard to build a pathway, so we're expecting students to move onto colleges and universities, or directly into jobs in the industry.