Top 5 Cities with the Most Vibrant eSports Scenes

The world of esports has been around for decades, however, in the last few years, the esports community has shot into the spotlight. As the name would suggest, esports can obviously be played online, meaning that technically they can be played anywhere with an internet connection. If you were to pick the best place in the world to play and enjoy esports, where would it be? More importantly, what makes a specific city the optimal place to game? These five cities embody esports culture and provide players with the optimal conditions to succeed.

1. Seoul, South Korea

Top 5 Cities with the Most Vibrant Esports Scenes
One of Seoul’s PC Bangs | Credit: Gerald Lee

Our first stop on this list should come as no surprise as South Korea has been at the forefront of tech and eSports innovation for years. With outstandingly fast internet and a deep commitment to esports culture, South Korea is the prime place for players of all skill levels. When we say committed, we definitely mean it! Esports are commonly streamed on public television, with some of the most prominent networks hosting tournaments right in their own studios! If those in Seoul want to get in on the action themselves, they need look no further than their local PC bang. Yes, I did say “PC bang,” which in Seoul, is highly similar to a PC gaming café. Nearly twenty thousand PC bangs are located in the Seoul area.

2. Los Angeles, California

blizzard arena
Blizzard Arena | Burbank, CA

The west coast of the US has notoriously been a hub for tech and gaming innovation for some time. Despite the tech success in Silicon Valley, the heart of Esports in the US still lives in Los Angeles, and it’s easy to see why. First, the Esports Arena of Orange County attracts many prominent esports tournaments to the area. Additionally, several major gaming studios have their HQs in LA. These include Riot Games (makers of League of Legends), Activision/Blizzard (a merged company combining the makers of Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft), EA (makers of Madden and Fifa) as well as many others. LA is also home to many esports teams, most prominently Team SoloMid (TSM). On top of all that, LA is also the host to the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) convention which brings prominent industry leaders together to show off their latest innovations. This event was recently made available to the public and is sure to bring even more interest in esports culture to the LA area.

3. Stockholm, Sweden

Top 5 Cities with the Most Vibrant Esports Scenes
One of the first Dreamhacks

The largest digital gaming convention (Dreamhack) was founded in Sweden. The convention now spans across the globe bringing players of all backgrounds together. There are also extensive high school and college level programs for gamers. There are even entire specialty schools dedicated to esports! The acceptance of esports careers is widespread and encouraging. So, if you’re hoping to surround yourself with likeminded supporting gamers like yourself, look no further than Sweden. If all that doesn’t convince you, then maybe Sweden’s insanely fast internet will!

4. Seattle, Washington

Top 5 Cities with the Most Vibrant Esports Scenes
PAX West | Seattle, WA

Home to billion-dollar corporation Microsoft, Seattle is no stranger to the tech industry. Recent partnerships with the University of Washington has led Seattle to become one of the forerunners in collegiate esports. The university enjoys its own expansive esports training center which is open to players of all skill levels. Another boost to Seattle’s gaming culture can be found at its annual GG Expo (an esports convention that puts a high priority on fostering a welcoming and learning based community for all players). Plus, with all the rain in Seattle, there’s definitely an incentive to get inside and log on!

5. Shanghai, China

Shanghai eSports Center | Shanghai, China

Shanghai is home to many prominent Chinese esports teams, including the Shanghai Dragons. Shanghai’s government is highly supportive of the local esports community and even partnered with Tencent to help prioritize the esports industry in China. Tencent is the largest gaming company in the world. The corporation owns stock in almost every major gaming company around, including Riot Games, Epic, Ubisoft, Supercell, and more. With the help of private companies such as Tencent, Shanghai officials have revamped the Oriental Sports Center to accommodate esports tournaments. Local officials hope for the city to become the “esports capital of the world.”

Honorable Mentions

While they didn’t land a spot in our top five, these cities are definitely significant gaming and esports hubs in their own right!

Tokyo, Japan

Home of major cosplay and Pokémon events, this city is definitely a gamer’s playground.

London, England

The base of operations for major esports team Fnatic. London is also the location of Red Bull’s gaming sphere (an underground gaming pub and streaming center).

Zhangzhou, China

A government investment of nearly 280 million USD has this community building an “eSports town,” which when completed will potentially be a significant esports tournament and training hub.

Cologne, Germany

Home to major esports conglomerate ESL One, with many tournaments taking place at the ESL One arena.

So, did your city make the cut? With the cutting-edge industry of eSports changing by the minute, we are sure to see new contenders make this list in the future. Which up and coming esports communities do you think will rise to the occasion?

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