Childhood friends turned entrepreneurs, Dr Amit Sra and Vivek Behl look forward to launching their esports arena in the UK in early 2023
Though the franchise announced its intention to expand into the UK only a few months ago, Valhallan has already signed its first British franchisees. When the first UK arena opens its doors in Ealing, it will provide local young gamers with an engaging programme that balances education and competition, whilst also teaching life skills such as sportsmanship and teamwork.
Former teacher and father of two, Vivek Behl will use his background in education to make Valhallan’s first UK arena a place for young people to learn new skills whilst meeting like-minded people in a fun, safe and inclusive space. He says: “What first attracted me to Valhallan was the brand’s belief that gaming can be a means for creating a community for young people. Valhallan provides a place where parents can feel assured that their child is in a safe environment that enables them to succeed, meet new people and establish skills for any future career.”
The esports franchise launched in the US earlier this year due to the lack of existing programmes that showed young people and parents that video games could truly enrich lives and create a community. Vivek and Amit Sra are the first to respond to this demand for dedicated esports education in the UK. Vivek adds: “There is such a huge demographic of young people who love video games, and there is a growing demand from parents and players for healthy outlets, made clear by the brand’s success in the US.
“Valhallan’s fantastic business model and the lack of such spaces in the UK meant we were confident that the success seen in the US could be attained here.”
Amit, a medical doctor and fellow father of two, also recognised how important the services that Valhallan provides are in connecting young people. He says: “After witnessing how the world reacted to the pandemic, and how playing video games in our homes was one of the ways that young people could stay in touch, I noticed there was a need for an inclusive and engaging space where young gamers could connect.
“Our overarching aim is to bring a community spirit into play and make our arena a pivotal place where young people can network and socialise while learning valuable gaming and life skills.”
With Amit and Vivek’s educational and medical backgrounds, the pair saw the opportunity to help young people in the UK. Now, both look to break the stigma surrounding gaming and will make their arena a social hub for young players, regardless of their background.
Vivek says: “It’s really important for us to focus on the emotional wellness of young people as well as teaching them the physical skillset of gaming and esports. There are many young people on the spectrum and others who struggle to connect with peers, so our intention behind Valhallan is to encourage individuals to come out of their shells and socialise with others in a supported environment that helps build their confidence.”
David Graham, CEO of Valhallan, has had a successful launch in the US and recently acquired NXT UP Esports, the United Federation of Esports Athletes and the North American Esports League. He says: “Bringing Valhallan to the UK is an exciting step for our brand, and Amit and Vivek launching the first arena here is another big milestone for us. The need for a destination-based esports hub for young people who love gaming that combines education and competition has been evident in the US.
“Nothing like Valhallan exists currently in the UK, and I’m thrilled to see our first franchisees respond to this demand, guiding players to realise their potential across the pond.”
By launching in the Greater London area, Vivek and Amit can see the potential for growth due to its vast gamer population and they are already setting their sights on the future. Amit explains: “Ealing is just the beginning for us. After our first location is up and running, we hope to open another six arenas across the region. 2023 is looking to be an exciting year!”