The UK’s most diverse eSports team is reaping the benefits of rewarding passion over experience.

London-based Lionscreed, founded by Abdiqani Ahmed in 2019, has grown to 28 staff and seen national success in competitions for videogames League of Legends and Fortnite.

And while the likes of publicly listed Guild Esports have looked to sign top players – bankrolled in part by co-owner David Beckham – Lionscreed has taken a different approach.

The startup even looked past the CV in recruiting COO Dale Adams. “A lot of the people in the brand weren’t within the ecosystem before,” Ahmed tells BusinessCloud.

“I’d meet them at an event and see they had the same fire and passion that I had. My COO was a bartender before – now he’s literally building the best teams in the UK!

“Dale wasn’t allowed entry into the scene because he didn’t have the experience. But he had the managerial experience and the knowledge because he was watching from the outside and learning from it. He just didn’t have it on paper.

“Before, we were just trying to be part of the environment, part of the ecosystem. Now we’re setting an example for it. Our video production is off the roof.”


With its London listing, megastar co-owner and array of blue-chip sponsors including Sky Broadband, Coca-Cola and Samsung, Guild – also founded in 2019 – is the most visible eSports brand within the wider business community. Ahmed is quick to praise its commercial savvy, but says the team lacks the soul of a grassroots brand like Lionscreed.

“When it comes to bringing in the big brands, they’re doing something right. That’s great – but in other areas, like video production, they could do a lot better,” is his view. “If a team like ours is doing better than they are…

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“I can’t question their business because I don’t know what their goal is and what they’re trying to achieve, but they seem to have brought in money and paid for the best players – and that’s it. 

“They’ve not developed any players, they’ve not developed any storylines… Guild, in a sense, feels lifeless.”

Lionscreed has humble beginnings. Ahmed  and his mother fled war-torn Somalia when he was a baby; later, having managed to avoid the trouble which befell many of his friends on the streets of London, he won his first competition as a Year 11 schoolboy on a low-powered Government-issued laptop.

Abdi Ahmed – the young entrepreneur succeeding against all odds

After graduating from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer science and mathematics, he set out to execute his long-term plan, building his brand almost single-handedly while working three jobs.

“I was just developing the skills – I always had in my mind that I wanted to make my own team because when I was playing, the brands, in my opinion, weren’t doing the best that they could do in terms of marketing,” he says. 

“So I started my brand, but I had no money… just an idea. I  grafted and did everything myself.”

National success

With England’s Three Lions looking to roar against Senegal in the football World Cup’s first knockout stage on Sunday, Ahmed too looked to the national symbol when naming his brand.

“Lionheart was already taken, so I went with Lionscreed,” he says. “I chose it because I had a vision: to build a team which was the best nationally.”

Lionscreed logo

The 25-year-old plans to take on external investment for the first time as Lionscreed’s horizons expand further. “We’re moving to the next stage: this is where my focus is now,” he reveals. “I’ve brought in really, really strong advisors: we’re talking CEOs and COOs of top three football clubs, director roles at brands like Nike.

“We’re rolling under sponsorship, but now we’re looking at investment because our goal for the national stuff is really coming to an end – we now need to look internationally.”

Northern soul

A physical presence in the North of England is already established thanks to a strategic partnership with HOST. Its studio and training facility in the heart of MediaCity in Salford aims to create a beacon for eSports in the North. The team also has a physical venue partnership with Sidequest.

There are more than 15 players on its books, but also a sports and exercise psychologist, multiple social media managers, marketing experts and now content creators P3nguin & Burtle.


We are the most diverse eSports brand in the UK. When I was playing semi-professionally, I was the only black player in the world in that game,” says Ahmed. “There’s still not that many of us [in the scene]. 

“When you look at Lionscreed, we have multiple women in director roles; multiple black people; people of Asian ethnicity… we don’t see that front face. What we care about is the passion.

“I don’t think the ecosystem is racist – I just think the infrastructure is built where the people who were kind of blessed can make it into the scene. Whereas you have to have a mental fortitude to make it otherwise.”

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