Dundee has been billed the “Las Vegas of gaming” as Scotland’s premier Esports event gets under way.
The SEL4 grand finals kicked off at Dundee Contemporary Arts on Thursday afternoon with the Call of Duty Esports Scotland Cup.
The attendance is thought to have come close to the 300-person daily capacity permitted during the four-day event.
Over the next three days the grand finals will take place in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, League of Legends, Valorant and Tom Clandy’s Rainbow Six Siege.
A record-breaking prize pot of £11,000 is available to the winners.
‘This is like our World Cup finals’
Gaming team Skelp will be represented by 18 players in four teams this weekend.
“It’s a bit of an extreme comparison but in the same way that Las Vegas is the Mecca for gaming, why can’t Dundee be the Mecca for Esports?” said Glaswegian Jonny Boyle, 31.
“It’s certainly gearing up for that – this is the place to be.
“SEL4 is the culmination of everything we have been working on for the past year. This is like our World Cup finals.”
Jonny set up Skelp during lockdown and attracts a number of Scotland’s top players.
A sponsorship deal with Ayrshire firm Utopia Computers has helped boost the team’s profile.
“It has allowed us to build a good team,” Jonny added. “We want to make sure people are aware of how big Esports is.”
‘Today is the first step towards something great’
Ellis Watson is delighted to see the cream of Scotland’s Esports gamers coming to the city in which he lives.
The 30-year-old, originally from Arbroath, lives in Lochee and has a job in marketing for Certas Energy.
In his spare time he is an avid Call of Duty competitor and was the live-stream commentator on Thursday’s event alongside Dom Gallo, 22, who is originally from Windygates in Fife but now lives in Aberdeen.
“I have been in gaming since I was 13,” said Ellis, who previously played football for Montrose. “Everyone knows that Dundee is the gaming capital of the UK, and maybe Europe, so it’s ideal for Dundee to hold this event.”
Ellis, whose moniker is Elmo, is looking forward to the opening of the proposed Northern Lights Arena in the Waterfront in 2024.
“When that building opens Dundee will be booming – you can only imagine how good it will be,” he added. “Call of Duty is one of the biggest games in Esports and today is the first step towards something great.”
‘It looks top notch’
Leading gamers in the Call of Duty competition include Shea Sweeney, 26, and Jamie Lambert, 22.
Shea, whose moniker is Qwiker, has been an Esports professional since 2015 and represented Celtic in the prestigious Call of Duty World League (CWL) Championship in 2019.
He has travelled the world as a gamer and win £12,000 in a CWL event in Miami in 2019.
“This is the first Esports Scotland grand finals I have been in and it looks top notch.
“Other events I have been in have been properly international, involving travelling all over the place, but at this event there are exclusively Scottish gamers.
“If I win this event and play well it’s almost as though I am the best in Scotland so I will feel proud.”
Jamie Lambert, who goes by the tag Jambo, came third in last year’s Call of Duty Challenger championship.
He said: “I have played in America, Paris, London and Birmingham.
“It’s nice coming here because it’s much easier for travel!
‘I am possibly the only gamer on Dundee City Council’
An enthusiastic member of the audience was John Alexander, who was not present in his role as leader of Dundee council.
Instead, he was spectating as a fan.
Cllr Alexander plays Call of Duty on the Xbox and also joins his children Noah, 4, and Jack, 6, on Nintendo Switch, formerly Wii.
“I am possibly the only gamer on Dundee City Council!” Cllr Alexander said. “This event is an incredible opportunity for the city.”
Tickets for the remaining days are available here.
To watch the event live, go to the Esports Scotland feed on Twitch.