Emirates Stadium set to host UK Smash Major Albion 4

UK Smash has a big few months ahead of it, and one of the best tournament organisers in Europe is ensuring that 2019 is going to be a year to remember for every Ultimate fan. The Albion series, the biggest Smash tournament series held on English soil, is set to return with a bang this year, and the venue is none other than one of London's finest, the Emirates stadium, on July 6th and 7th.

To understand how this came about, we caught up with DAT team leader and Albion chief Tom ‘G-P’ Scott, to talk tournaments, Ultimate and going from running a decent-sized event in London to a Smash tournament in a state-of-the art, Premier League stadium. It’s safe to say he’s still buzzing following the release of the news, and the trailer for the event which highlights the community that is the bedrock for these high peaks.

How did it come about?
Albion was already established as the main annual fixture for Smash 4, and that obviously leads straight into Ultimate (the new title in the series). We already knew we needed to move venue, as our previous venue, the fantastic Bridge Academy, was already filling out at around 300 people, so we needed to go bigger. We looked at York Hall, and a few places in Stratford, and as we were looking around one of the members of the team, Eve, just said ‘hey, what about the Emirates Stadium?’.

And what was your reaction to that?
Obviously the initial thought was ‘don’t be ridiculous’, but equally I saw the potential, and was open to the idea if it was possible. I gave them a call, and I knew I was in for a fun ride when they asked me what company I was representing. We went to view it, and they gave us a quote for everything, which admittedly is steeper than we’re used to, but it’s well worth it, in my opinion.

So, do you think it’s good value, for what you’re getting?
I think if I looked at it from the pure perspective as a TO of what I’m paying and what I’m getting, I’d say no, but...it’s the Emirates Stadium. That in itself is a massive thing, but if it turns out not to be, that’s not a huge deal as I’ve never run events for profit anyway. If anything, I’m expecting to lose money on this event at the end of it all.

The concept of an offline tournament for it was mind-blowing to them

What are the challenges of working at a venue like this?
Well, with this being a more professional venue, and the cashflow being that much higher I’m having to make sure all the financials are done by the book. Beforehand, you could be a little bit relaxed with it all, even if you were keeping track of everything, but you wouldn’t be taking invoices for petrol receipts, for example. When it comes around to paying the tax at the end, I’ve got to make sure it’s all sorted.

What did the folk at the Emirates think of Smash?
They needed me to run them through exactly how it all works. I went down there to see the venue, and we were there for around two hours, and they didn’t know what it was at all. They understood what gaming was, but they’d never heard of any event like this, and the concept of an offline tournament for it was mind-blowing to them, so I showed them stuff from previous Albions and they were pretty amazed.

What do you think this event can do for UK Smash going forward?
I don’t even know if it’s just a UK thing, to be honest, it could be bigger than just one country. I think it’s an enormous undertaking and the sort of thing that is going to…well, to put it in perspective, this might be the first s-tier tournament to take place outside of America. That in itself could open the floodgates and increase the amount people travel outside their own countries, which has always been a problem with US players dominating the scene.

How does it feel to make history this way?
Well, I haven’t done it yet (laughs). I find it quite funny, because the town I now work in, the council I work for manages the venue I hosted my very first tournament in, so I’ve come full circle in a weird way. I never thought I’d get to this point, when I started I just wanted more events happening and now I’m about to host a Smash tournament at the Emirates. So yep, pretty crazy.

With that, Tom was back to work, so we left it there, but it is amazing to think how far Smash has come in such a short length of time. After the CSGO Major in London and Dota doing so well in the Midlands, maybe this is the next esport to truly bloom in this part of the world. With the likes of Tom working so hard to keep the scene thriving, things will go from strength to strength, no doubt, and we can’t wait to see how the action unfolds at the Emirates.