National University Esports League (NUEL) – Esports in the UK

Hey Cloth5 fans, Fridgecake here with a look at the NUEL (National University Esports League).

Huge thanks to Dan Donnelly for his work in putting this together.


It’s often said that eSports in the UK are lacking compared to other parts of Europe and, whilst there is certainly merit to that argument, you only need to look at the enormous event that was LCS Wembley in London to see the UK’s passion and demand for eSports.

A Packed Wembley Arena

A Packed Wembley Arena

With Wembley still fresh in the minds of many in the UK eSports community, there has never been a better time to look at ways of growing UK eSports – I’m here to talk to you about the UK’s National University Esports League (NUEL for short), our attempts to help expand the UK scene and how you can get involved.

What is The NUEL?

The NUEL is a unique tournament, allowing teams from universities across the United Kingdom to compete in an extended season, while allowing new teams to join at any time, thanks to our new ladder system.

Teams of all skill levels are welcome, whether they want to play for fun with their friends or compete at the highest level for our grand prizes (last year’s winning team, Manchester Zer0, won a trip to watch the 2014 All Stars in Paris).

We want to encourage community building and friendships within University eSports, whilst having a strong level of competition as well. The 2013/14 season saw over a hundred teams competing, and our goal is to have every university in the UK competing in the very near future.

Why Focus On Universities?

At its core, a lot of eSports fans are of university age and we see university eSports as a way of bringing people together, both within their own university, as well as fostering inter-university relationships (and rivalries).

Nearly every university has a gaming society of some kind, and our aim is to use that to create a community within universities through eSports, which can be viewed as an inclusive activity for players across a broad range of skill levels.

Some of our most successful teams are great friends outside the game (Birmingham) and we are also working closely with Riot as an official partner regarding not only university esports, but promotion of playing together in universities in general.

One of the real benefits of university eSports is the regional aspect; representing your university can create local friendships and rivalries as you try to prove you have the superior team in your area.

This has been the catalyst for community tournaments such as King of the North in Manchester and Best of the South West in Bath, organised by university gaming societies and attended by teams from all over the regions involved as they attempt to claim dominance over their corner of the UK.

Competition inside these events provide a great opportunity for players to meet one another and experience a LAN environment (potentially for the first time), which may then encourage them to check out some other UK LAN tournaments such as epic.LAN and Insomnia.

To foster local relationships, we’ve recently begun our NUEL Reps program, which involves splitting the UK up into a number of regions (North West, North East, Midlands, etc) and allocating a representative to spread the word about the NUEL to any and all gaming societies in those areas.

We hope this direct contact with NUEL staff members (the majority of whom started out as competitors themselves) will encourage societies that are yet to put a team together to see the positive worth in UK eSports and thus create an expanded community.

Who are some of the key members of The NUEL?

Josh Williams Founder, Chief Delegator

Founded NUEL back in 2010 after joining Loughborough University – Four years later, graduated with a degree in Information Management and Computing – And with a much better looking university competition. NUEL was born out of a personal awe for competing in tournaments and frustration over the lack of activity in the UK, whilst going to university and seeing national traditional sports competitions.

Ian ClaydonTournament Admin

Graduated from Kent with a Masters and starting towards a PhD in Astrophysics at Uni. of Surrey. Got a taste of playing competitively at Kent and saw the effect NUEL had on growing societies.

Joined the NUEL to help it grow so everyone at university can find players to form teams together and have a chance to play competitively. Focusing on building a tournament system that allows anyone of any skill level to take part and have fun, but also have high level competition for the best teams in the UK.

Ruihai (Ray-hi) YoungbloodSociety Development

Graduate of the University of Warwick, now a graphic designer in California. Competitive League of Legends started from scratch at Warwick and he wanted to help universities struggling to grow. He is currently spear-heading the NUEL Reps program to find representatives of eSports at each university to ensure good communication and accountability.

Tom DaviesWeb Development, Graphic Design

Graduate of Web Development & Design at Loughborough University. Joined NUEL as it was being set up, after being head-hunted by Josh. Focused on building a website which allows teams to form and people to follow the tournament without getting in the way, whilst simultaneoulsy streamlining it for tournament admins and casters.

Dan Donnelly Head of Content and Social Media

Studied Journalism at Bournemouth University, joined the NUEL a year ago to combine a love of the UK esports scene with a love of content creation. Responsible for writing the very article you’re currently reading. Last seen conducting interviews with pro players at LCS Wembley whilst desperately trying not to fanboy too hard.

Ceirnan ‘Excoundrel’ Lowe Lead Broadcaster

One of the UK’s top up-and-coming casters, Excoundrel has been part of the production at nearly every major event in the UK over the past twelve months, including many online and offline tournaments. Leading up our casting operation allows him to pass on his experience to a new wave of casters.

What are some of the highlights of the past year?

Last year was a real marquee year for the NUEL, as we experienced an amount of growth beyond any expectations. The NUEL grew from being a fairly small tournament with around 30 teams to being a nationwide competition, with around 110 teams from over 50 universities across the length of the UK.

Our long-term goal is to have a team competing from every single university in the UK!

We’ve had the privilege of working closely with Riot over the past few months, to the point where we are now considered to be their official UK university eSports partner. Thanks to their involvement, we have been able to learn and improve ourselves from their vast amount of experience.

Courtesy of Riot, last season’s winning team Manchester Zero won a trip to the All Star 2014 event in Paris, whilst second and third placing teams Birmingham and Manchester were awarded tickets to LCS Wembley.

2013/14 Season Winners Manchester Zero in Paris

2013/14 Season Winners Manchester Zero in Paris

How can I get involved?

You can get involved by signing yourself up to our brand new website at beta.thenuel.com.

You can then sign up to an existing team at your university or find a group of players to create a new team. Thanks to our new ladder format, you can join in and start playing at any time; once your team is ready, you can immediately begin challenging other teams to games and start climbing the ladder.

Our Summer tournament is running every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday night until the middle of September, and then our full 2014/2015 season starts in October.

For all the details, follow our social media channels at facebook.com/thenueluk, twitter.com/thenuel and youtube.com/thenuelesports.


Once again, a huge thanks to The NUEL and Dan Donnelly for their help with this article. Cloth5 are still looking for more community projects like this from across the world. Drop me a message on Twitter if you know if any others! @C5Fridgecake

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Esports and Blogs Manager for Cloth5.com. I'm a Plat 5 all around player, I know I should pick a role but it's too much fun playing all of the champions! Add me on Fridgecake or Yawnedeverywhere and i'd be happy to have a game. Currently playing Hearthstone, Gangsters 2, GTA 5 and Football Manager. Follow me on twitter @C5Fridgecake or check out my stream

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