A pair of university students in the UK are demonstrating that esports fans are never short of options.

With esports quickly gaining worldwide popularity and eying off a spot in the Olympics, Tacha Jones and Rafee Jenkins are trying to show university students and commercial sponsors why it should no longer be ignored.

Jones, an integrated masters biology student at Manchester is the project manager for King of the North and York Showdown, a university esports events held on March 17 and 18 in the UK. Rafee Jenkins is a computer science student at the University of York who manages the York Showdown event.

Both are teamed up to make the King of the North and York Showdown esports event a success in the UK.

Funding an issue for UK esports

At the event, up to 60 university teams will compete in these popular titles:

It is estimated that over 1,000 spectators will be gathered over the weekend to witness the North and York Showdown. The event is organized by the University of Manchester esports Society and will be taking place at University of Salford’s MediaCity campus.

Jones, who is the project manager, stated that one of the aims of the university esports society is to train local students to be able to organize entire gaming festivals.

She went on to say that people who feel they do not belong to the world of conventional sports can always have a place in esports. She said one of her key aims is to try to ensure that sports-alienated people feel included in esports events.

She however laments the scarcity of funds to execute university esports projects. She says her society is not able to access funding from the University Students Union because the latter’s sports budget is yet to identify with esports campaigns.

“However, getting involved with eSports at university is so easy and is so much more than just playing video games,” Jones said.

“We’ve had people go on to work for the National University eSports League, ESL, Twitch and more.”

Esports is both a Business and Entertainment, Says Tafee Jenkins

Jones herself is a freelance player and talent manager for ESL and serves as student manager for both NUEL and Twitch.

Jenkins on the other hand got hooked on esports after watching The International DOTA 2 tournament in 2016. He became involved with event management by beginning to organize his own weekly miniature DOTA 2 tournament. He soon succeeded as securing big sponsors for the York University’s esports society at age 19.

When asked how he has been able to single-handedly organize esports events and big sponsors, Rafee said that esports should be considered as both a business as well as entertainment.

“We have a massive advantage,” he said.

“We are the target audience for some companies and if you offer them the right things such as the fact we plan on putting on an eSports event with 40 players, spectators and they’re all aged 18-21, companies become quite willing to support you.”

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