Imagine a world where gaming is not just accepted but encouraged. A world where taking time to focus on esports isn’t a big deal. A world where esports biggest stars get national attention. Well, you don’t have to imagine. That world exists and not just in Korea, Denmark esports programs and infrastructure have helped take a small Scandinavian country of only 5.7 million and turned it into a juggernaut. The year 2018 witnesses a huge success for Danish professional esports athletes.

Why is Denmark so good at esports? There is no doubt that the Danes has had an incredibly dominant 2018. Fnatic made it to the League of Legend’s World Championship grand final with two Danes on their rosters. The Danish pro player Johan “N0tail” Sundstein won The International for team OG as their captain. And that not to mention all other Danish players that did incredible things in the past year. When it comes to the European country in esports, Denmark is consistently among the greatest. But why? To understand Danish dominance in esports, there are few other things you have to understand first.

Johan “N0tail” Sundstein winning The International 2018

First is the Danish school system. Unlike in North America, in Denmark, there is not as much risk associated with taking some time off school to try out something you are not sure of. Education for the most parts is free for the Danish citizens and post-secondary program run from about 2 to 5 years. That means it is a lot easier to take some time off school to focus on esports

Casper “cadiaN” Moller: Basically, in Denmark, they say that you are doing your education, you are still paid to be educated. So when you go to like high school or university, you get paid to do it. When in the US, you have to pay a lot to go to big universities. And also Denmark you receive money if you don’t have a job mostly. It’s kinda hard to pay rent, but we have such a good infrastructure that you say that it means you always have something to fall back on.

While other European countries offer free post-secondary education, the Danes’ attitude towards allowing people to pursue their passion could be what set them apart.

Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander: in our country, our culture is like if you like something. You can just play it a lot.

This appears to be the source of Denmark’s current success. But what about the future of the country stars. The whole country has come on board on this issue. The school implements the esports program, Danes are surrounded by esports. McDonald even has ads in Denmark that use CS:GO terminology. And that starts to create a different attitude towards professional gaming in Denmark.

That new attitude has got them easier access to computers or how people just gonna play the game that they want if that’s what they want to do with their lives. According to the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency that deals with information and communication technology, 95% of the Danish households have a computer compared to the 79% average Europe has as a whole, and 97% of the Danes use the Internet over 77% in Europe

And now that a few talented players have developed from the scene, the government wants to make sure that it thrives. Support from various loans from the government has come in many forms. First, they have dedicated money the way towards esports classes in some schools. Not only the government, but a lot of non-governmental organizations have also shown their interest and support toward esports. Campus Vejle is an example. This is not a government-funded campus, but it works with the traditional school system and uses esports as a way to keep students at schools.

Torbjorn Nyborg – the esports consultant for Campus Vejle: We use esports program as a kind of motivation to bring some of these students through high school and get them high school diploma (the government-funded schools are closer to boarding schools). There is something in Denmark called continuation school, which is pretty much like boarding school where you take your tenth grade, or you finish your primary school. And there you see that they have actually integrated it as a part of the school. They have like an entire day when they have only esports classes. At the continuation schools, for every student that the school is bringing through there like the curriculum that year, they get some kind of bonus from the government which I think it’s actually around 10 grand or something per student.

Torbjorn Nyborg

They offer high-end gaming facilities and training from professional coaches and players. Campus Vejle is expanding into a brand new facility which is funded by the local government of 2 million US dollars with a focus on not only esports but physical fitness as well

Torbjorn Nyborg: the current facility that we have … we have 112 computers and an esports center now and is expanding into a new esports center from next month, which is also funded by the local government here in the city of Vejle. This is going to be an esports center but also a fitness center. We are actually making it that all the students who are a part of esports programs also have to go to fitness two times a week.

A few top CS pro even taught at some esports programs throughout the country Esports classes aren’t an original idea. In fact, other schools in the world even opt for it. But that is just one of the ways the Danish government show support for esports. The Lord Mayor of Copenhagen invited us all to Copenhagen City Hall for a pancake breakfast not once but twice.

So the tradition of respecting esports is reserved for a long time in Denmark as a show of an achievement, think the Superball stars or famous celebrities visiting the White House in the US.

But why does the Danish government even care about esports? To start off, some esports team in Denmark got successes in both playing their games and signing sponsorships, and that sparked the government’s interest. While other national line-ups have seen success in the past, the Danish government clearly feels that Esports is a part of their nation’s future and they want to strike when their iron is still hot. The ministry of education is also showing some kinds of interest because they can see that some of the students who wouldn’t finish high school or wouldn’t go to the university have accidentally been motivated to finish up their school and to stay in school because of these esports programs.

And this success has passed down to the youth of Denmark. Look at Danish rising Rainbow Six Siege star, Pengu:

Niclas “Pengu” Mouritzen: Since I was 12, 13, I planned to be an esports athlete. I look up to League of Legend, specifically Bjergsen for now currently TSM, who played in World Champion back then. You know I have been following League scene ever since it came around. And I wanted what they had, the stage with 10 people, 15 people or whatever. It matters so much to me

Niclas “Pengu” Mouritzen

The CS Team North was even co-funded by Nordisk Film, a major local film studio, and super league soccer team F.C Copenhagen.

Right now, Denmark is one of the best countries in the world when it comes to esports. There were the Danes in the grand final of Worlds, the International and both of sth CS Go major in 2018. That’s an impressive showing. As for the future, the young generation of Denmark, they are inspired by the Danish old famous esports pro players. Like any country that excels in a specific field, it’s all about infrastructure. Think Canada and hockey, the US and basketball and maybe one day, Denmark and esports.