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What lies between the professional esports sector and individualised gaming and why does it matter?

By Anita Kiraly, Communications Officer, ISCA

The road for local sport clubs and schools to reach out to young esports practitioners and gamers and include them in value-driven communities is being paved – and this presents a huge opportunity for grassroots sports to expand its horizons. Following our partners’ thorough desk research on existing resources, strategies and initiatives, as well as scientific publications and grey literature in the field, two introductory documents on esports compiled by the European Grassroots Esports project consortium are now available! 

Across the world, the word “esports” often conjures up two images: the dazzling professional esports sector and an isolated, individualised gaming culture. In between these two pictures lies a thriving grassroots esports culture, featuring local clubs and national organisations that have vast experience in building value-based, inclusive communities for young people who enjoy playing esports. These clubs are not only opportunities to train new talents for the big stage, but they also serve as a safe space for diversity, inclusion and fun, as ISCA and our esports partners experienced recently in Amsterdam.

The community esports scene has evolved over the past couple of decades, yet it still lacks the theoretical validation of the social benefits esports clubs can contribute to the community. The main goal of the European Grassroots Esports project is to underline and show a third way between the commercialised esports and individualised gaming. 

Now the project has now reached its first two milestones, with a mapping of typical stakeholders in grassroots esports and the different dimensions of its development.

The Mapping of stakeholders, practices and models of grassroots esports document aims to provide a clear picture on the framework of grassroots esports, deliberating the definitions and the build-up of the sector, expounding from the different values and approaches to the cross-sector initiatives and volunteer-based school activities that play a crucial role in defining grassroots esports. The project partners put emphasis on the discussion among various stakeholders in esports and provide an overview of the different roles that they play in the esports industry, as well as their relevance and impact from a grassroots perspective. All this, whilst exploring the existing research in the field, which has not yet created a clear picture of the grassroots aspect in esports and is still a relatively new phenomenon that is especially unique to the Nordic and EU countries. You can download the document here: 

The Conceptual models and dimensions of grassroots esports document identifies and outlines the different dimensions of grassroots esports and gives the reader perspectives on how to promote grassroots esports where the focus is solely on participating, socialising and enjoying esports and gaming activities. The document introduces five different tendencies and their contribution to the growth and development of grassroots esports in its own unique way. The chapters presented provide additional understanding and inspiration on how to start up a grassroots esports club or other initiatives where people can meet and share their passion for competition in the virtual world. Finally, it provides perspectives towards the overall promotion as well as a glimpse into the potential future of grassroots esports. You can download the document here:

These documents are the first two of a series of resources including 
              •    a 5-module online course on “How to develop your grassroots esport club” and 
              •    the reports on the relevant learnings, successful stories, difficulties and challenges and recommendations and conclusions drawn from the experiences of the three, 8-months long pilots carried out in Germany, Norway and Hungary, that are aimed at helping local organisations understand grassroots esports and start their own clubs, if they are inspired to do so and are looking for advice to start. 

Visit the European Grassroots Esports project website to discover more

Posted on 10/07/2023 by Anita Kiraly, Communications Officer, ISCA


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