Gaben Laser Beam (GLB) Blue are second place in the ESL UK Major Ladder and have their sights set on reaching the Premiership.
The org has previously had League of Legends teams from Europe including a high Diamond German team and a Danish team who won Danish LAN events, however it’s now fully focused on the UK League of Legends scene.
But who’s in the UK eSports team, how far can they go and what exactly is their second GLB Kappa team? We sit down with owner Louis Jose and GLB Blue’s Scottish support player Euan Ratley to find out.
Please tell us about Gaben Laser Beam and the org’s history…
Louis: We started out with a friend and I setting up GLB as a small League of Legends team – we weren’t anything big, it was more just for friends.
Then I liked the side of getting better players together and managing them as such, so I started making teams and just being a manager, making sure they practiced on time and things like that.
That’s when I came across Ratley. He was a coach for one of the teams I was setting up – a German team with high Diamond players. That team disbanded, and I wanted to create a really good UK team with Ratley as one of the players instead. Obviously I knew Ratley was a good player and knew a lot about the game, so we set up a team slowly, getting the roster together – and we’re nearly there.
Tell us about the difference between GLB Blue and GLB Kappa – is Kappa semi-serious?…
Louis: Yeah, Kappa is not really as serious. It’s just that when we do the lower-end online tournaments like the Bronze to Gold tournaments, and Platinum tournaments, we enter them to get the free RP and it’s always fun to play in a team environment. So that’s why I still like it.
We also go to LAN events, just because it’s a group of friends we all love LAN anyway. We might as well go as a team and play against some of the best UK teams. That’s where my knowledge grew about the UK scene, I started getting more interested in it and wanted to create the best team to compete against some of the top UK teams.
Did you play at the recent i-series?
GLB Kappa did, but not Blue. I played against Choke and AeroX in the group stages. It was pretty horrible, but I killed AeroX’s mid-laner a couple of times, so it was all good!
What are your aims and ambitions for 2016 and beyond? I guess it’s to qualify for the ESL UK Premiership to begin with?
Ratley: Yeah, definitely. I think firstly, with the team we have right now, we’re more than capable of qualifying. If we put the work in – as soon as the holidays are over we can get back to the grind again – and get prepared. I think we have a very good chance.
Louis: We want to qualify for the Premiership and attend more UK LAN events like Insomnia and things like that. We also want to do Go4LoLs because they have really good EU teams in there and the big Go4LoLs have good prize pools at the end. It would be good to get a couple more of them done as well.
Tell us about your League of Legends roster…
Louis: All the players in the team are mid/high Diamond in SoloQ, and all of them have previous 5v5 experience.
Our top-laner Ereptor has played in the scene before, he played for Team Infused about a year or two ago in epic.LAN.
Jungler is undecided at the moment, we’re just finalising the tryout process.
In mid we’ve got Lozza who has played in a couple of UK teams including Gaming In Motion, which is a team that got picked up by Rift, who are now getting picked up by exceL. So he’s played in the UK scene before at things like epic.LAN.
At ADC we’ve got LemoKnight, and in support Ratley has played in a UK team before that got into the promotions last time.
What kind of a person are you looking for to play as jungler? Can you tell us a bit about the ethos of your team?
Ratley: From my perspective we’re looking for someone who is… I don’t want to say too serious, because at the end of the day we’re having fun, but I’d say we’re a good group of close friends. I think that’s really important.
We’re looking for someone who’s friendly, good to get along with and good at the game, with knowledge and experience. So that’s the best kind of mix, I suppose. You don’t want to be too serious.
Are there any personal ambitions from yourself, Ratley, and how far you can go?
Ratley: If things go well in the upcoming promotions tournament, I’d expect at least a top five finish – we’re definitely capable of that. I’m not going to put any bold predictions out, but top five is what I want to aim for right now. Anything higher is great.
Individually as a player, my short-term goals are to do well in the UK scene, and long-term, if things are working out well and I have the same passion for the game, I want to see how far I can go. I’ve done coaching stuff before and I really enjoyed playing, so there’s no saying how far I can go. If I can keep up my passion for the game, then I can do whatever.
You’re second in the ESL UK Major Ladder at the moment. Can I ask for your thoughts on ESL’s UK Major Ladder? Considering there is no hard and fast rule in terms of the number of games teams must play…
Louis: The ladder is a shambles really, to be honest. I know it’s hard to be tournament organisers and you’ve got to have the teams playing, but it’s just ridiculous at the moment.
To be honest I don’t think the top four in the major ladder are going to be the top four that try and contest in the promotion series. I think ESL will run some kind of extra tournament at late notice which we’ll have to try and play to win our spot, because that ladder isn’t really up to date. Many of the teams on there haven’t got a roster at the moment so it’s just unstable.
There are definitely four top teams in there – including ourselves – who will be contesting for the promotion series, no doubt.
What are your thoughts on the competition in the Major Ladder and your potential opponents in the ESL UK Premiership qualifying? AeroX Esports beat Choke Gaming 2-0 at i56 recently…
Ratley: I think AeroX played really well at that tournament. It was kind of a surprise. There’s obviously us, MnM, AeroX, Uncharted Insanity and Team Red Dragon.
I think the current standings aren’t too showing of the scale. I think the top two at the moment would be us and AeroX, we haven’t played them in a while and we’re going through roster changes so it’s hard to say, but I think from what we’ve seen before it’s us two who are the better teams in the ladder.
We’ve had experience playing some of the UK Premiership teams, and I thought we’d have more of a beating, but with more practice it definitely seems like there’s an opportunity for us to do well against them.
What are your thoughts on the UK League of Legends scene and UK eSports in general?
Ratley: The scene’s a little bit weird because there seems to be the same players floating around, going to different organisations. There’s not a lot of new talent, I don’t know whether it’s the UK or people don’t want to play in the UK, but it seems pretty quiet for the time being.
Louis: I think the Premiership is definitely a good idea to start bringing up some of the talent. There’s been rumours saying Riot might back it as well, and that would just create the UK scene – more people would want to play in it, there would be teams in the major ladder trying to get in, instead of scraping four good teams together, there would be loads of different teams competing.
At the moment, it’s really hard in the UK scene because the top teams are thinking, “do we get a full UK roster or do we just get two EU imports”. That’s what orgs like Manalight are going to be doing and things like that.
There isn’t enough UK talent that’s known. It’s out there, so if Riot backs the UK Premiership there will be more players trying to contend. The UK Premiership is a good idea, as well as Insomnia – that’s a really good LAN event. A Portugal pro team came over for the last one, so it’s getting more noticed. There’s good prize money in the UK scene.
Look at 4Nations – that was Riot backed, it was a bigger tournament with good prize money down; it was more organised for a start and had more people competing in it. I’d like to see more tournaments come in, this could help the UK scene get bigger and better.
I also saw you’re looking for more coaching staff… how important do you think it is to have a proper structure like this within an org?
Louis: It definitely needs to happen. You can have the most talented roster, but without coaching, people don’t know what they’re doing wrong. They might not want to listen to a Platinum or lower player telling them what to do, but it’s not like that. When you’re in a game, you can’t point out these little macro/micro plays, which the coaches can.
It’s important to listen to the coach and that’s why we started getting more support staff behind them. I stick to the management side, but getting more coaches and analysts in to provide feedback will help improve play. Things like picks and bans are so much better with a coach in there, who knows what the players are doing individually in terms of their Champion pool. You can have a better comp with a coach in there, instead of just a load of players talking over each other.
What do you think of player contracts and salaries? That’s been in the news lately, with Ember becoming the first team to release their player salaries. Terra Cotta Army’s CEO has also told us that eSports player contracts are vital in terms of preventing poaching…
Louis: I think team Ember brought that information out because they knew they were paying their players a lot of money. As soon as people started thinking about releasing salaries, they wanted to get that out for the publicity straight away, people were looking at it on Reddit and it was good publicity for them.
But in terms of the UK, I think player contracts are needed, otherwise you have situations with players switching teams, like they have done in the ESL UK Premiership. You want solid line-ups that don’t change, so fans can start supporting that line-up and get behind it, without other players coming in all the time – it’s petty. Contracts would be needed, but they are expensive.
The top four orgs have financial backing, but there needs to be more backing if contracts are to become the norm.
You’ve also got a Counter-Strike team, is that correct?
Louis: Yep, we’re still in talks with them. There’s currently only four players in the team, but we’re looking to get a UK line-up out there, competing online and maybe get to LAN events later down the line.
Do you plan to focus on any other games outside of League of Legends and CSGO?
Louis: I want to concentrate more on the League side to begin with, then once we finalise talks with the CSGO team, I’d like to get someone like myself but with knowledge of CSGO. So they can control that side.
After CSGO ideally we’d bring on a HearthStone player or two on board, but that’s a long way down the line.
Finally, as you’re called Gaben Laser Beam, what are your thoughts are on Valve, Gabe Newell and PC gaming? Are we ever going to get Half-Life 3?
Louis: Maybe in the next 10 years of my life we might get Half-Life 3. We’re all waiting on it.
I think Valve, in terms of the games they bring out, they’re sort of the platform for PC gamers, apart from things like League. I do like Steam, the interface and I think they’ve done a pretty good job to be honest.
If you guys get pretty big in the future, and Valve take note, what do you think of the prospect of them sponsoring you?
Ratley: That’s the end goal, I think! That’s the dream sponsorship.
Louis: When that happens, Half-Life 3 will finally come out.
You can check out GLB’s website and follow them on Twitter here.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League player and WoW RPer, he has written for a range of publications including Games TM, Nintendo Official Magazine, games industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games. He currently works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association.