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Xbox® today launched the search for the ultimate student gamer in a nationwide £10k gaming challenge. Scream pubs across the UK will stage 35 regional heat events where experienced and first-time gamers can compete for Xbox games and consoles plus a place at the grand final in March.

Regional events will run throughout late January and early February and will test gamers on a fastest lap competition on this year's top car racing game Project Gotham Racing 2. Regional finalists will then head to Manchester in March to compete in the grand final where they can walk away with the crown of the UK's ultimate gamer and a cheque for up to £10,000.

The £10K Challenge follows on from last year's Xbox 'Play More Challenge' which saw over a thousand students battle it out in an intensely fought competition. Dan Thain, a Business and Politics student from Liverpool University was crowned the eventual Xbox champion having proved his skills on a range of games.

Stephen McGill, Head of Xbox UK Marketing, said: "Last year's 'Play More Challenge' was a great success and the standard of game playing was incredible. Everyone who participated and watched the competition had a fantastic time playing games and socialising at the same time.

This year's £10K Challenge promises to be even bigger and no doubt the standard of competition will have increased. Everyone at Xbox is really excited and cannot wait for the regional heats to begin."

In December 2003 Xbox became the exclusive console of choice for the Scream chain of pubs with Xbox Live enabled pods installed in over 30 pubs across the UK.

The full list of Xbox £10k Challenge heats is as follows:

City Scream Pub Date

Aberdeen Bobbin Fri 30 Jan

Birmingham Gosta Green Fri 30 Jan

Cambridge Graduate Fri 13 Feb

Canterbury Penny Theatre Mon 9 Feb

Cardiff (1) George Wed 11 Feb

Cardiff (2) Woodville Mon 9 Feb

Cheltenham Pulpit Mon 16 Feb

Coventry Aardvark Fri 6 Feb

Derby Friary Wed 4 Feb

Durham New Inn Wed 4 Feb

Edinburgh Crags Thurs 29 Jan

Glasgow (1) Curlers Wed 28 Jan

Glasgow (2) Hall Sat 31 Jan

Huddersfield Warehouse Monday 2 Feb

Hull Haworth Arms Tue 3 Feb

Lancaster Friary Mon 9 Feb

Leeds Library Fri 13 Feb

Leicester (1) Loaded Dog Tue 27 Jan

Leicester (2) Soar Point Tue 3 Feb

Lemington Spa Robbins Well Sat 31 Jan

Liverpool Hope & Anchor Thurs 5 Feb

London Rocket Sun 15 Feb

Loughborough Phantom Sun 1 Feb

Manchester (1) Footage Thur 12 Feb

Manchester (2) Queen of Hearts Wed 11 Feb

Middlesborough Camels Hump Sat 7 Feb

Newcastle Upon Tyne Hancock Thurs 5 Feb

Nottingham Horn in Hand Thurs 29 Jan

Oxford Pub Oxford Thur 12 Feb

Plymouth Roundabout Tue 10 Feb

Portsmouth Registry Wed 11 Feb

Preston Adelphi Sun 8 Feb

Reading Pavlov's Dog Mon 16 Feb

Sheffield Cavendish Monday 2 Feb

Southampton Avondale Sat 14 Feb

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