Gaming And Esports at Queen Ethelburga’s

Pursue your love of gaming by taking a BTEC in Esports and joining the Young Game Designers.

Gaming is an up-and-coming industry currently worth £1 billion to the economy, so Queen Ethelburga’s offers students the training and the skills to start on the path to pursuing this exciting career.

Senior School pupils playing a video game

Students can begin their passion for Esports in King's Magna by entering the Young Game Designer.
Become A Young Game Designer

For those with a love of gaming King’s Magna offers the chance to join Young Games Designer as an enrichment activity.

Students design their own video game and can enter the BAFTA Young Game Designer competition.

Previously, we have had two Year 8 students make it to the finals of the BAFTA competition where they were invited to the BAFTAs Opening Weekend in London.

Begin Your Career In Esports

New to Queen Ethelburga’s in 2023/2024, QE Faculty students can now choose Esports as a BTEC option.

Esports is a form of competition using video games. The BTEC explores the structure of the Esports industry, job roles and specific tactics, strategy and performance when competing.

Since it is a growing industry, one of the units covers entrepreneurship and how to identify opportunities in the industry. The final unit teaches students how to look after their physical, psychological and social wellbeing when competing in Esports competitions. 

By far, the most exciting aspect of Esports is the national competitions students enter as a team to compete against schools, colleges and universities across the country. In the 2023-2024 season, our students excelled in the Valorant and Overwatch 2 National Tournaments, securing a Top 5 position. Additionally, they showcased their skills at a live F1 23 tournament in Oxford.

Explore the full story of our Spring Season 2024 below.

Team QE playing in an Esports tournament in Oxford.

Q-Esports Weekly Match Reports

Spring Season 2024

Pre-Season - A Very Exciting Q-Esports Update

Hi all,

I hope everybody has had a great time off and settled nicely into the new term...time for some more Q-Esports updates!

We've been playing a couple of pre-season friendlies, one a narrow loss last week, and this week against Craven College Crusaders, a team that plays in the same league as David Beckham's Guild Esports, whom we played last term. We beat them, and we actually beat them extremely convincingly. But that's not the most exciting part.

The really, really superb bit is that we were able, for the first time ever, to successfully stream the match online on our Twitch account. Even more excitingly, the video capture software did everything we wanted it to, and we were able to download the recording and upload it to YouTube! I believe this marks the first instance where an entire QE sports fixture is available to watch online (please correct me if I'm wrong, somebody). Watch the footage here:

I've snipped off the first few minutes of the setup so you can get right into the action. Andy from College has done a superb job of shoutcasting, providing a really calm, levelled description of what is happening (and if you don't fully understand the game, listening to his commentary will help you pick up lots of info about it!).

QE Faculty students playing Valorant in a private school near York.

We need to have a separate room allocated for this in the future, as you can hear a few of the players' (and my) shouts and calls during the match. You can hear me towards the end of the first round begrudgingly admitting, "Okay, I see what you're saying," as I argue with Peter over his tactic of rushing the enemy side from one specific point (a very uncommon approach in the first round), and it begins to unfold perfectly. Seconds later, Peter's "Nice! Well played" confirms he was right and I was wrong. Funnily enough, I kept quiet for a while after that.

The start of the second round showcases the creativity of our fantastic team: Ihor throws a flash grenade, masking the footsteps of Peter, who hides behind a doorway and manages to take out their captain, and Ihor follows up with a long-range shot to another member of their team. Peter got the idea from watching one of the best teams in the world attempt it during a high-profile match a couple of weeks ago. "It didn't work when they tried it," he told me afterwards with a grin, "but I knew what went wrong and we didn't make the same mistake."

After the match, Peter and Ihor suggested that it was not the best one to upload to YouTube as our first ever video. I asked them why.

Peter: It just makes us look too good.

Ihor: Yeah, we beat them too well in the end.

Peter: It's a bit out of character for us to put a team away that ruthlessly.

I've been watching you play for the last three months, lads. There's nothing out of character about it.

Thanks all,

Mr Luxford

Game Week 1

Hi all,

...aaaaaand we're back! Our F1 23 and Valorant teams kicked off the Spring season today after superb showings in the Winter season. 

For F1 23, we had Mac and Cody coming in on the Brazil track. Cody, unfortunately, got wiped out in the first corner by another driver who wasn't even close to paying attention. I was furious. He was furious. Big sighs, and all eyes turned to Mac. Mac is FOURTEEN, it has to be remembered that there were adults in the race representing universities and colleges, and suddenly all our hopes were pinned on our Year 10 student. We needed a top 10 finish. We needed points on the board. I have never felt tension like it.

Mac started incredibly, pulling into the top 10 by the end of lap one. Seventeen laps to go, I tried to reassure myself. University students, racers who have bested us in the past—Mac was overtaking the lot. Ninth place. Eighth. "Just stay calm," Cody repeated. "Keep breathing, hold your position." More than halfway gone, and another driver, paying no attention, spun Mac off the track.

"It's alright," I said, trying to mask the disappointment, "it was bound to happen—get back on and go again." Mac did exactly that. Back into the top 10. Back into the top nine. Top eight. "Hold your position. Keep breathing." Into the last lap. Seventh place, and Mac swerved a corner badly. Suddenly, the car behind was breathing down his neck. 0.2 of a second. I can't even picture that length of time. "He'll make a mistake too," I said, sounding more confident than I felt. "He just wants you to think he won't." He did make a mistake. He gave Mac a second or two of breathing room. "Ah, he won't catch you now," said Cody. I couldn't bring myself to agree. Mac just stuck to his game plan. Through the last corner and across the finish line. Seventh place. Seventh. What a result. What. A. Result. Mac jumped out of the chair and was laughing—"Cor, bit tense that wasn't it?" You're telling me.

Girls taking part in Esports at The Faculty of Queen Ethelburga's.

Valorant up next. Division One, a much higher standard than last year. We had a friendly match last week and lost it. Quite badly, in the end. First game in this league, and I simply did not know what to expect. "Look, it's not going to be easy," I said before the game, "but we're Q-Esports. Remember that and just play your game. You painted a target on your back because of how well you did last year, now let's see what you can do with all eyes on you."

What did they do? Annihilate the other team. Final score—13-3. They didn't just win; they were virtually untouched. Ihor got twice the number of kills as the top THREE opposition players. "He said this morning he was scared of losing," Captain Peter told me after the game. "That's great," I commented. "Before the next match, tell him that he's going to do terribly; let's see how well he can really play." Top of the league after game one? Oh, so that's what you can do with all eyes on you.

The Spring season absolutely could not have gotten off to a better start. 

Thanks all,

Mr Luxford

Game Week 2

Wow, wow, wow. Our F1 team continues to be amazing.

Mac, the hero from last week, and Zach, who was not scheduled to race today but stepped in due to Cody suffering a little of the Q-Flu (feel free to use it). Zach always approaches it with a great attitude when he has to step in at short notice. Cody really impressed me—he dragged himself into the Esports room and tried to give the usual instructions and motivational talks. He's so passionate about this team. I could tell he was furious with himself for having to leave. I tried to put myself in his place and help where I could. I was a poor substitute.

Miss Blakeley and Miss Le Havre both came in to give the two a pep talk before the race. The lads are polite, respectful, and just so eager to do well. It's wonderful to see. I tried to add to Miss Blakeley's motivational words. "Miss Blakeley's right, you know," I said as soon as she had left, "the really exciting thing is to be competing at this level, with these racers, getting these fantastic experiences." They barely acknowledged me—they absolutely had to get their cornering sorted before the race began.

Anybody who's met the two of them will know how lovely they are. Really, genuinely nice lads. And what's great is they carry that into the race with them. But good lord, does the competitiveness come out. Last night, the race was TWICE the length of last Wednesday's, and I didn't know how their stamina would hold up. Much better, as it turns out, than many of the other racers. We're getting to a point where people are spinning off the track, dropping out, just not able to sustain the length of the race. These two know how to stay in it for the long haul. Neither of them ever gives up or panics. There was a moment when Zach had a racer right behind him. 0.1 of a second. I can't fathom a length of time that short.

"You doing okay, Zach?" I asked, keeping my voice as calm as I could.

"Mm, made a little time on that last corner but not enough."

"Ah, trying to shake him off?"

"No, what? I'm chasing this guy in front of me."

The guy in front of him was 14 seconds ahead. Fourteen seconds, versus 0.1 second, and guess what Zach had his eye on. Eyes on the prize. Do you want to know what's crazy? Zach caught the guy in front. Of course he did. He did it in two laps. It was fantastic.

Eventually, Zach pulled into the top 10. He'd been spun off in lap 1 and was, for a brief moment, in last place. He never, ever doubted that he'd get back in the mix. Complete confidence in himself. Eventually, when his car got totalled by another driver not paying attention (a theme from the last two races, sadly), he was stunned. It wasn't fair. It wasn't his fault. He'd worked so, so hard. These games also work to build resilience, I reminded myself grimly.

The shock lasted less than 5 seconds. He took a deep breath and turned to Mac to cheer him on and give him advice. All on Mac, yet again. And yet again, Mac revelled in the pressure. Longer race. Tiredness setting in. Keep breathing. How well can he possibly keep his focus next to the grown men he's racing against? I'll tell you how well—one better than last week. Sixth. Absolutely UNREAL result. Superb performance from both lads. They just keep getting better, week on week. So proud of both of them. Points on the board, happy students getting incredible experiences.

It's nice when it comes together.

Thanks all,

Mr Luxford

Game Week 3

Hi all,

Our Valorant team has adapted well to life in Division 1. It's a tougher league with higher standards, and they're noticeably having to change the way they approach certain elements of the game. Tonight, they played against a team that has lost only one game since October.

There's very little else to say other than the result: 13-2. We absolutely demolished them; it was magnificent. It's a testament to their professionalism that when they got to 12-0, they were still frustrated and analysing what went wrong when the opposition pulled two rounds back. I'm so delighted and proud of them.

Communication played a huge part in this massive victory. Peter directed half the team on one half of the map, and Ki Kwong had no qualms about ordering people around on the other side

"Play safe! Don't push," insists Ki Kwong.

"Okay, fine," Ihor, who loves to play aggressively, acknowledges.

Given that Ihor is the Vice Captain, it was a wonderful moment to see Ki Kwong show that leadership.

We go into the final stage of the season needing just one win from the remaining two games to progress to the knockout stages. I'm still nervous. They aren't.

Thanks all,

Mr Luxford

Game Week 4 (Wow)

It's a lot of fun writing these match reports; honestly, it is. But it's not easy. I always feel like I'm going to miss something important or not do justice to the way the teams played. So today, I think I'm going to try to describe the full context of what happened last night:

  • The second group stage of the Valorant Student Champs Open Division ended last night. The top 8 teams in the north of the country move into a knockout stage against the top 8 teams in the south.
  • Q-Esports have put ourselves in a really strong position—we needed to win the match last night, or to get at least 9 rounds, to guarantee progression into the knockout stages.

Don't tell them to just play for 9 rounds, I told myself. Don't. That's a loser's mentality. This is a team of winners.

So the game started. Oh, wow, the opposition is good. Really good. We lost 3 rounds on the bounce, then won one back, then lost another 3. At the worst point, we were 2-7 down. It's first to 13. Even getting to 9 rounds seemed like a tall order. "We're Q-Esports," I'd told them before the match, "and the only thing we need to do in every game is to remember to play like it."

I can't fully describe what happened next. Peter took his headset off, banged his fist on the table, and had a brief moment of silence. Then, back on with the headset, he started barking out orders to everybody. And boy, did they respond. Oh, wow, Q-Esports is good. The opponents stayed in front, but we got to 7 rounds. 8 rounds. 9 rounds... we're through. We are through. I shouted it across the room, but they barely heard me. They were in a mood. Determined. They kept winning rounds. And finally, brilliantly, in what is unreservedly one of the best Valorant matches I've ever seen live in my whole life, we won the match. 13-10.

I went to a football match straight after work last night, and we won 3-1. I couldn't cheer any of the goals. My voice had already gone.

Thanks all,

Mr Luxford

Game Week 5


Due to scheduling issues, British Esports had to move the first Valorant knockout rounds to yesterday. The team wasn't expecting to play again until after Easter.

"When's our next match, sir," asked Samuel when I first got in yesterday.

"A month's time," I replied, before checking the website, discovering the fixture, and desperately messaging Samuel again to advise him that it would actually take place in about six hours.

The team had to rush back to boarding at the start of Period 6 to get their equipment. They had about 20 minutes to warm up and train a little, then straight into the match. Good. No pre-match jitters to worry about.

Last week's match was superb. I meant it when I said it was one of the finest I've ever seen live in my life. Well, yesterday capped it. We trailed for the whole game against an extremely strong team from London. At one point, we were in a position where we needed to win 6 of the last 7 rounds in order to not go out. We'd won 7 of the previous 18, so I was not confident. "Wait a minute," Captain Fantastic (he made me promise not to call him that again—I refused.) *Peter said, "I have an idea." We then won 4 rounds on the bounce.

We're ahead. We're ahead. I didn't want to breathe in case it distracted them. Two more rounds. The next round went to them. 11-11. Ki Kwong muttered something under his breath that I didn't catch, for which I was grateful. Ihor then decided to do something very strange and selected a sniper rifle for the next round, which we hadn't used at all up to that point. Almost single-handedly, he won us the round. 12-11. Within one.

"Oh! I've just realised," Ki Kwong remarked with a chuckle, "I know how to beat these guys." And confidently, calmly, he dispatched the opposition one-by-one. WE. ARE. THROUGH.

Overall, Samuel was the player of the match. Amazing performance. The quietest member of the team made the biggest noise last night—a noise that pushed us all the way into the quarter-finals. I'm so proud of him and this team.

Thanks all,

Mr Luxford

Games Week...6? Penultimate F1 Race

Apologies for the lack of updates over the last few weeks. We've been moving into the final stages of the season with very little to report, but the next few weeks will be action-packed!

Wednesday night's F1 race—our penultimate race, with the next one being the live final at the Williams F1 Engineering Centre—could not have been beset by worse luck.

Within seconds of starting qualifying, another driver rammed into Cody and destroyed his car. He started the race in last place. "Last to first," remarked Cody, "I can do that."Playing F1 23 in a national competition.

Mac, on the other hand, was doing brilliantly. His qualifying lap put him in fifth. Time for the race to start. Cody got back on the grid and climbed quickly, moving from 20th to 15th in one lap. At the other end of the grid, Mac was fighting hard. He reached 7th place by the end of lap 1 and 3rd by the end of lap 4. If he held it, it would be our first podium finish of the year. Mac wasn't settling though; he pushed hard for 2nd place. Just after pulling out from a corner, the wheel suffered an electrical fault and Mac's car lay prone and lifeless in the middle of the road. I dove to the floor and helplessly tried prodding some wires. It didn't work. He was disqualified within 10 seconds.

Cody had pushed up to 10th, into the points. His car was getting battered and bashed around, but he was still competing. The competition was fierce, but Cody is a superb driver. His tyres were threadbare. Every single part of the car had taken damage. Then, in what felt like a final rebuke from God for daring to drive among the angels, one of the cars clipped Cody, who spun out and hit a wall, completely shearing off his front wing. This put him back in last place. Cody very briefly considered retiring from the race, but that's not who he is. Instead, he forced the car back onto the track, eased it through the final 5 laps, and somehow, rattling and decrepit like a ramshackle life raft that has kept the lone survivor of a shipwreck alive for months on the ocean, finally pulled into port and crossed the finish line—finishing just outside the top 10.

Cody didn't celebrate, but I firmly believe it was his best performance of the year. That depth of character, that grit and determination, is exactly why he's Captain.

We go into the live final in Oxford on Tuesday with that thought in our minds.

Thanks for reading!

Mr Luxford

Games Week 7 (The Live Final)

Hi all,

The members of the F1 23 Q-Esports team had a fantastic day. They were treated to sessions with people such as the Head of Recruitment at Williams F1, who gave them bespoke advice on how to enter the industry (an absolute goldmine for all of them, but especially for Mac, who wants to do exactly that); and their Head of Performance, who ensured they maximise their potential as drivers, students, and human beings. A tour around the Williams museum was superb and, in the words of the Esports lead of a College I chatted with, "like a tour round Narnia—I've been trying to get on one of these for years." The opportunities we provide our students are spellbinding, honestly.

One thing that became obvious as soon as we entered the main room: Team QE was, by some considerable margin, the youngest team in the division. There were adults from university teams, and adult learners from college—all of whom had vastly more experience than our own drivers.

The race was superb. "I'm not bothered about results or positions," I told them before the race, "I never have been. What I'm interested in is you working as a team, developing yourselves, and having fun. But, that being said, I would really like today to be the first day that we manage to have two cars cross the finish line."

Mr Luxford giving a team talk to the Esports team playing F1 23

They did that and more. They qualified in 15th and 13th, but neither was satisfied when the race began. They fought, pushed, and took on drivers who had been racing longer than they'd been alive. It was, quite literally, men against boys. Our boys are Team QE, though, and that tends to level the playing field a bit. University students, lifelong racers—Cody and Mac were overtaking the lot. One into the top 10, then another into the top 10. At one point, the camera zoomed in on Mac for about 30 seconds. "I don't think we've seen him blink since the camera went onto him," the commentator mused. "That's how much focus they bring to each race," came the reply.

There was a moment when both cars had to take a pit stop during the same lap. "Surely you can wait one more lap," I pleaded with Cody. "I'm doing it now," he replied, "unless you want me doing the next lap with no front tyres." There was no way this could work. The timing had to be perfect. I didn't want to breathe in case it distracted them. Laser-focused and locked in, both our drivers entered the pit lane simultaneously and pitted perfectly. Each one was under two seconds. Mac didn't even lose a single position on the grid. I was absolutely stunned. As were the teams around me. With a mixture of awe and annoyance on his face, a Head of Department from a school in Brighton asked me, "Did you really just pull that off?"

"Sure did," I said with a grin, which I hope belied the fact that I had no idea how it happened.

We finished with our best performance of the year. A LOT of people felt the pressure and crumbled in the live situation. Q-Esports revelled in it.

And finally, just to cap it all off, the screen flashed up the final accolade. Mac won Driver of The Day. Twenty drivers. Out of every single one, it's a Team QE student who raced the best that day. Magnificent. I'm so proud of them. What a performance.

And with that, we wrap up our F1 23 season. 

Thanks all,

Mr Luxford