Dogpatch to bring back all-island e-sports competition in April

28 Mar 2024

Image: Nativz Gaming

Projected to reach a revenue of $4.3bn globally this year, e-sports has been growing in popularity wildly and start-ups such as Nativz Gaming are trying to hone it.

In around two weeks’ time, gamers from universities across the island of Ireland will congregate in Dublin’s Dogpatch Labs to battle it out at the Ireland Esports Collegiate Series.

The Spring Finals Weekend taking place from 13-14 April will see students lock horns in popular gaming worlds, from EAFC24 (the successor to FIFA), Rocket League and League of Legends on the first day to Counter Strike 2 and Valorant on the second day.

E-sports in Ireland is still very young, according to Kurt Pittman, founder and CEO of Nativz Gaming, an e-sports start-up based in Dublin. But it’s also an exciting time to be in the sector.

“I think we’re at a point where we’ve got some very capable people leading in different areas, so I think the opportunity is there from a national strategy perspective to pull these strands together and get some real impact,” he told me in an interview this week.

Ireland upping its game

Pittman, originally from New Zealand, first moved to Ireland in 2019 and founded Nativz Gaming in 2021. The start-up, which has been running the Ireland Esports Collegiate Series, is dedicated to developing the e-sports ecosystem in Ireland and beyond by building the infrastructure necessary for it.

While Nativz is making a name for itself in the world of e-sports in Ireland, another company based in Ireland called Wylde has also been making waves in the space. Also based in Dublin with a presence in Co Cork, Wylde was founded by Steve Daly and David Cronin. Sprinting champion Usain Bolt joined the company as a co-owner back in March 2022.

The start-up has been tapping into the growing world of e-sports – projected to reach a revenue of $4.3bn this year – and currently has teams competing in tournaments and leagues for games such as Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant and Rocket League.

With e-sports now making its way into the Olympics programme, companies in Ireland and across Europe are racing to create the infrastructure needed to host this fast-growing industry. Of course, supports in Ireland are nowhere near levels in France and Sweden, but Pittman believes Ireland has a strong opportunity to make of the most of this wave.

Who will be Ireland’s top e-sports university?

The latest Spring Finals Weekend event in April will influence the Collegiate Challenge leaderboard, which is already led by TU Dublin with the second place still up for grabs. Current contenders for second place are South East Technological University, Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin.

However, teams from other universities, including University of Galway, University of Limerick, Dublin City University and Maynooth University could make their way into the finals if they perform well at the ticketed event in two weeks.

Come May, the top two universities will vie for the title of top e-sports university on the island of Ireland.

“There’s a lot of momentum building, I think we’ve seen some really exciting things happen with the numbers growing,” Pittman went on, “as we keep driving education around the opportunities of e-sports through support by the likes of Dogpatch and sponsors such as Monster Energy who are helping to try and amplify our profile and our reach.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic