A Young Organisation Looks to exceL
Recently, whilst researching leads into the ‘emerging’ professional video game scene, I came across exceL eSports. After a quick chat with one of this fledgling organisations founders, I knew I had to dig a little deeper.
Founded in late October 2014 two brothers, barely out of their teens, realised that their respective gaming and educational backgrounds had landed them in an ideal position. With the growing emergence of eSports, something that both are already a part of in one form another, they saw an opportunity to create a professional gaming organisation. Now, this may not seem like anything new, organisations rise and fall as quickly as the gamers they represent but I feel exceL eSports deserves highlighting.
This sibling partnership has seen the explosion of professional gaming from the inside, they have been a part of it first-hand. The rise in gaming tournaments across the UK presented a business opportunity that ran alongside their hobby which they have grabbed with both hands. By setting up exceL eSports they are gathering a core group of gamers underneath a banner with which to present to the world. Joel holds a 1st Class Business degree, Kieran is a trainee Lawyer and both have ambitions that are already being planned with a precision and temperament that far outweighs their young ages. Throughout the entire conversation there was an underlying tone that can be summarised into a single word. Professional.
Generally speaking the gaming community, whether it wishes to formally acknowledge it or not, is still struggling to be taken seriously within modern society. This isn’t the time to be rehashing that old ground but it is important to highlight, as this is something that exceL eSports understands and realises that to succeed as a venture, then they must approach it as any other business venture, albeit one for which the rules are still being written! How they are seen by the rest of the gaming community is pivotal to their thought process. With lessons learned from their respective education and careers, they are channelling all that experience and knowledge into an industry that, at times, can be seen to flounder.
These guys know their gaming, of that there is no doubt, and when they talk about the team they are representing for their inaugural outing as a professional organisation, they are confident in their skills and abilities to do well, but it doesn’t stop there.
When I asked them about their first tournament a few weeks away and how they felt about the team they had entered, their response surprised me. Both Joel and Kieran were happy with their teams training and had obviously picked the team for their ability but it was more than that. They had a huge selection of unsigned teams to choose from, so, how did they choose? Both brothers agreed instantly, the teams attitude.
Where the majority of organisations look at a vast array of statistics before signing a team, these two brothers added on a whole new set of criteria. Having the best gamers playing for them is one thing, but if they don’t have the right attitude, then exceL eSports will look elsewhere. This organisation is thinking long term, they don’t just want gamers who can win tournaments, they want people who are themselves winners. Young adults who know how to present themselves as potential role models to a new generation, people who hold the same ambition and professional stance of exceL eSports itself. In essence, exceL eSports wants to stand the test of time and they are looking for gamers who will embody their values. I quickly got the feeling that they weren’t out to simply grab some gamers and win some tournaments, maybe make a few quid in the process, these young men are wanting to set up a brand.
That’s not to say that they are running before they can walk. Amidst all the energy and excitement that simply crashes into you when you talk to them, there is a gentle, underlying tone that resonates of hard work and determination. Sure, both Kieran and Joel have dreams of hitting some pretty dizzy heights, but they also know what it’s going to take to get there. Every choice these brothers make is planned, discussed and analysed. No decision is made lightly but it is always made with the active advancement of exceL eSports in mind. I realise that even talking to me is a calculated step in their plans.
The Am2Pro tournament in Leicester was also methodically chosen for the organisation’s first outing for a number reasons but, again, both brothers agreed the tournament embodied many of the same values as exceL eSports. To be taken as professionals in their own right, the organisation needs to be seen at, and be associated with, professionally run, well structured and organised events. The sheer level of understanding, of what is an industry still very much in its infancy, astounds me.
These are still very early days for this venture, they are entering a world that shifts and changes as quickly as the technology that powers it. Yet, I find I’m not worried for them, I’m excited. They constantly talk about both good and bad points they have observed from other organisations, the gaming community itself and the general media. Nothing escapes their notice. The eSports industry has exploded, it’s trying to settle down and grow but it’s doing so in a very erratic fashion. exceL eSports isn’t an organisation that is content to simply ride the coming storm but it doesn’t claim to hold the formulae to tame it either. Whatever the future holds for them, one thing is clear to me, I’m going to be keeping a very close eye on these guys.
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