POSTED ON 17/10/2017

The UK’s largest games event, EGX returned to NEC Birmingham this September, attracting a record-breaking crowd of nearly 80,000 people over four days. Featuring the biggest and best names in console and pc gaming, EGX gave fans the opportunity to get hands on with the hottest pre-releases across all formats including PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. We worked with ESL, the world's largest esports company, to construct the set for their greatest ever area at the exhibition in the UK.

Having invested heavily in our scenic department over the last twelve months, we were well placed to deliver the vast custom-made set required for the project, as well as supplying lighting, sound, rigging and staging. With the ESL Arena measuring 4,830 square metres and with five artic lorries needed to transport our kit - three of which were used just for the mammoth set - we were the largest single contractor on the EGX site.

Included in our vast remit were the creation of two large gaming stages, the ESL Premiership stage and the Twitch stage. Both stages were designed by ESL to bring together the UK’s best esports players, streamers and talent. We custom built each set to ESL’s detailed specifications, including the creation of custom gaming desks for the high-octane competition over the four days.

The ESL Premiership Stage

“With the ESL Arena covering nearly 5,000 square metres of space, this was a demanding job for us in terms of scenic creation,” says Hawthorn Senior Project Manager Ryan Grant who led the project. “Not only did we produce two stages, but we also custom built the exhibition stand for Intel to ESL’s exact specification.

“In total, we had about a month of prep work and planning for the project before the on-site build started. We worked closely with the ESL team throughout the process to ensure everything met their specific requirements and achieved the best possible results.”

ESL creative team came up with an ambitious brief for the Intel stand, measuring 21m x 14m. The stand featured three large graphic walls with custom designed lightboxes used to highlight each of Intel’s featured processors. The brief also specified fitting a sub-hung flown truss that acted as a false ceiling in the VR area of the stand, creating a more intimate environment, all of which we delivered.

The Twitch Stage

Dan Carden, Hawthorn’s Head of Scenic, worked closely with Ryan on the project. Talking about the recent expansion of his department, Carden said: “Earlier this year we invested in a CNC machine to enhance our set design and manufacturing service and the ESL project is a perfect example of the level of complex set creation that we can now provide in-house.”

“As well as having the technical equipment and expertise, we also have a hugely talented set team at our Leicestershire Head Office. From the intricate concrete paint effects on the Intel stand to the custom desks we created for the two stages, this project has been a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate our capabilities.”

Peter Mather, ESL UK’s Event Manager added, “The ESL Arena at EGX was the largest esports activation undertaken in the UK, featuring two large theatres and a multitude of esports focused exhibition stands. Hawthorn proved to be an invaluable production partner on the show, helping us to execute our creative ambitions for the Twitch Stage, Premiership Stage and the Intel Experience Zone, using their impressive scenic workshop to bring our plans to life”.