Report by Julia Barthram
Sunderland has been chosen to be home to a national centre of excellence for esports because it is 'welcoming' and 'connected', according to its governing body.
The warm welcome from the city and investment in 5G and fibre broadband attracted the British Esports Association after a four year hunt for a location for its new base.
Chester King, CEO of British Esport Association, told ITV News Tyne Tees: "We've been looking for four years for a home, we've been looking at Wembley and Olympic Park and were a bit restricted on space and opportunities to expand. Sunderland Council have been incredibly welcoming, the 5G network that's coming June, we love that we're next to a football stadium. It ticks so many boxes."
Esports is competitive computer gaming, where individuals and teams compete against each other at different games.
Games like League of Legends and Dota 2 are played by a hundred million people around the world, massive prizes are up for grabs, with sponsorship deals and fame for the esports stars.
Competitions are watched by millions online and often by thousands at live events. The Great Britain Women's Dota 2 team won a silver medal at the 2021 Global Esports Games in Singapore.
The National Performance Campus, a multimillion pound investment at a former car garage next to the Stadium of Light, aims to nurture and support the next generation of talent.
It will create state of the art equipment, classrooms, a performance centre, streaming booths and an arena to host Esport tournaments.
The campus is due to open in Summer 2022. It will host regular esport events, summer camps and be used as a training base for the Great Britain esports team.
The campus will initially create 20 jobs in the city. It is expected that tens of thousands of spectators will visit Sunderland’s NEPC to tap into the world-class facilities.
Both the Olympics and Commonwealth Games are considering the inclusion of esports in future competitions. It is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
Patrick Melia, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “Esports has been a phenomenal global success, and it is a huge growth market in the UK, that willbe realised over the coming years. BEA’s move puts Sunderland at the beating heart of that, and we couldn’t be more pleased.”