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ESL One - Margot James MP, Dota 2 action, and lifelong impressions

Author: sophia.aker

This Friday, Mike and I travelled up to Birmingham for the anticipated ESL One Dota 2 tournament. Thanks to ESL and Intel, the Digital Schoolhouse team, as well as a handful of Schoolhouse teachers & students, were given the opportunity to witness an incredible pro esports tournament firsthand.  

As soon as we entered Arena Birmingham, Mike and I were overwhelmed by the atmosphere of ESL One. Buzzing with esports fans and video game enthusiasts, everyone was in high spirits, keen to get with the Dota 2 action and cheer on their favourite teams.  

The audience enjoyed not only the main event, which saw teams from across the world compete in an awe-inspiring stadium, but were also offered game demo stations, autograph signing, a cosplay contest, and a photobooth.

The highlight of the day was of course the visit by the Minster for Digital and Creative Industries, Margot James MP. The informal conversation was set up for Margot to hear and understand how esports in the UK is driving positive change and to meet with people that have experienced & been a part of that.

Included in the panel of esports pros, Digital Schoolhouse Lead Teachers Tony Gilbert and Mark Ward were present to discuss the benefit of esports in the UK and how we can overcome educational challenges.  Tony and Mark described their experience of the DSH esports tournament and how esports has made a difference to their students and in their schools.

Mark said the panel was “a great event and really refreshing to see a politician who was genuinely interested in esports and what it had to offer.  It was even better that [Margot] was fully aware of the current landscape at GCSE level for Computer Science education and knows it's a little broken… I felt that my opinions were valid and being listened to.”

Esports Programme Manager, Mike, also conveyed Digital Schoolhouse’s mission of bridging the gap between education and industry, through our programme and the annual esports tournament which engages students across the country.

The panel was a great success, with Margot taking on board the experiences and recommendations of the panel. She later tweeted she is “determined to support esports in the UK”.

At the end of the day, we caught up with students from St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy. A group had travelled down from Dewsbury to attend, and for many it was their first experience of pro esports. Mark said of the experience, “I can’t thank ESL and Intel enough for allowing my pupils the opportunity to attend. I really wish I could’ve captured that moment when they first went into the arena – they were genuinely awestruck by how big an event it was”.

ESL One Birmingham continued through the weekend, and while Mike and myself shot off to London on Friday afternoon after a successful day, Sunday’s Grand final saw Team Secret take home the Trophy in a close battle with Evil Geniuses.  

Thank you ESL and Intel for this amazing opportunity. We have come back with lots of ideas and impressions that reinforce how incredible esports is.

Now, we can’t wait to get stuck into the DSH esports tournament 2020... Who’s excited?!  

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