Esports Around The World: Iceland

Esports Around The World: Iceland

Esports Around The World is a series of profiles outlining the esports ecosystem in various countries globally. The series ties into ESI’s international esports business events, which take place around the world.

The Esports Around The World series will profile major & minor esports nations across the globe.

Introduction

Iceland is a small, remote island in the Atlantic ocean, but its esports ecosystem far outstrips its size. Iceland is home to a surprisingly mature grassroots scene, spurred by the work of the Icelandic Esports Association, in connection with local government.

Riding on the back of its renowned traditional grassroots sporting infrastructure, a host of local sporting clubs have opened esports divisions since 2018, each with paid professional coaches and training regimes in place. The Esports Coaching Academy launched in 2021, which claims to coach about 4% of the country’s children, aloingside training coaching staff themselves.

In traditional sport, the country has won a vastly disproportionate number of major sporting accolades compared to its population. In esports, the emphasis is still mostly on the grassroots level, although it is home to professional Overwatch players such as Finnbjörn ‘Finnsi’ Jónasson and Hafþór ‘Hafficool’ Hákonarson, as well as Rocket League player and coach Gabríel ‘OSM’ Benediktsson.

Despite hosting little in the way of major events prior to 2020, Iceland played a key role in hosting the first esports LANs amidst the near-global LAN hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to its isolated location and small population, Iceland fared extremely well during the pandemic, meaning restrictions were much more lax and were thus prepared to host LANs earlier than other countries.

Iceland received widespread attention by hosting the 2021 League of Legends World Championship, Mid-Seasonal Invitational, and VALORANT’s VCT Stage 2 Masters in 2021, the first major LAN events to take place since the pandemic forced esports events online.

The Icelandic Esports Association told Esports Insider in an interview in 2021 it plans to turn Iceland into a top-five esports nation by 2025.

Government Recognition

The city of Reykjavík — Iceland’s capital and home to the vast majority of the country’s population — has helped support the expansion of Iceland’s traditional grassroots infrastructure to esports. Working with the Reykjavík city council, the Icelandic Esports Association helped pass a council proposal to support local sports clubs in opening esports departments and facilities.

Local Reykjavik officials also supported publishers and tournament organisers in helping bring major esports tournaments to Iceland during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, Icelandic esports organisation DUSTY posted a picture of Iceland’s President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson holding up one of its esports jerseys. The country’s Prime Minister has also met with representatives from the Icelandic Esports Association to discuss esports in the country.

Notable Tournaments & Leagues

Iceland is involved in a range of domestic and regional leagues that feed into Europe-wide competitions, particularly in League of Legends. The country also saw major Tier 1 events held in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in 2021.

Icelandic Esports LeagueTelia MastersLeague of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) 2021VCT 2021: Stage 2 MastersLeague of Legends World Championship 2021VCT 2022: Stage 1 MastersNorthern League of Legends Championship (NLC) 

Notable Esports Organisations

Note that this is a non-exhaustive list and exclusion does not signify an org is not notable.

DUSTYBreiðablik

National Associations / Federations

Note that inclusion in this list does not suggest any acknowledgement from ESI of its authority, works or official capacity.

Icelandic Esports Association (IEA/RÍSÍ)

Education Initiatives

The Icelandic Esports Association works with local clubs to provide courses and training sessions for local youth. The sessions include structured environments with coaches, training and exercise regimes, designed to provide a holistic framework for young people in Iceland to healthily engage in esports.

In 2021, the team behind the Icelandic Esports Association founded the Esports Coaching Academy, which offers esports coaching as well as training for coaches. The organisation has proved vastly successful and now claims to coach about 4% of children in Iceland.

Moreover, in June 2023, Icelandic esports organisation Dusty announced it had joined forces with Icelandic sports club Grótta to offer an esports summer course for children. 

This is a preliminary country profile and will be augmented with additional information over time. If you have any suggestions or feedback for this profile, please get in touch at info@esportsinsider.com. First published: May 19th 2022. Last updated: 22nd August 2023.


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