This weekend past (20-22 March) the UK's first eSports arena opened its doors to the public and hosted its first major competitive gaming event, the Counter Striker: Global Offensive (CS:GO) Spring Masters.
IBTimes UK was lucky enough to have a look around the London arena born out a deal between Vue Cinemas and rapidly rising eSports company Gfinity, and whilst there we sat down to talk to Gfinity CEO Neville Upton.
"Vue are a large global cinema chain, very pro-active, very excited about eSports," said Upton of the deal announced in February. "Their culture is a really good fit, very innovative and we want to be able to take eSports across the country but also around the world."
Teaming with Vue Cinemas offers Gfinity the opportunity to stream or even hold events in other cinemas around the country, on top of the dedicated arena housed in a wing of Vue's Fulham Broadway branch.
For now however, the company is taking things slowly. "We have to test it and see what the appetite is," said Upton of potential expansion.
In early March 2014, a story surfaced about Gfinity wanting to build a second, bigger arena, but if that were to happen it would be years down the line. It's proof of the company's cautious approach to growth in the UK.
As Upton explained to me, the CS:GO tournament was really about "making sure everything is working properly," with greater marketing pushes to come later in the year as more tournaments are held and the production involved is streamlined.
That said, Gfinity still have ambitions. "To me this is a stepping stone and that's why it's so great to have a partnership with Vue, because they've got loads of larger spaces that we could use," said Upton when asked about future arenas.
"My view – sorry, wrong word [laughs] – my opinion is that if you look at how big the market is we'll fill these arenas quite quickly, then we start the marketing and people get used to where we are, who we are and what's going on, then we won't be able to satisfy the demand so we'll need to find a bigger arena to move to. I don't know what the size is, it could be thousands of people every week, but we need to build with the market."
It's a market that is certainly growing in the UK, and Gfinity are right at its centre – particularly after a first successful weekend in London. Speaking after the CS:GO Spring Masters, Upton said in a statement: "We are delighted that our first major event held at the Gfinity Arena was a resounding success and was streamed live in multiple languages. The arena is Europe's first dedicated eSports venue and was created in less than one month.
"The CS:GO tournament attracted some of the world's top professional teams, a full house on the final day as well as excellent viewership online. It is clear the Gfinity Arena is set become one of London's entertainment hotspots and we look forward to hosting around 25 events during the 2015 season alone."