We interview Jeff Simpkins, an ex Rainbow Six player who now owns UK esports organisation Barrage Esports. As a UK-based organisation, Barrage has teams competing in Hearthstone, League of Legends, Call of Duty and Rocket League.
George Moncaster sat down with Jeff during i63 to talk about the challenges of running an organisation, as well as some of the experiences he’s had managing teams and players.
On the UK scene, Jeff said: “I think a lot of the UK orgs can be quite closed, they aren’t willing to chat to one another or share best practices or whatever. But I think that’s what you’ve kind of got to do if you want the whole scene to grow.
“Especially in the UK, we’re quite behind in comparison to the US and what have you.
“So I think we’ve all got to get our heads together to make sure the leagues are the most competitive, players are sticking with their teams, they’re not making so much drama… I think that’s on all of us.
“I’m always willing to chat to people and help people. And likewise, there are people I go to for advice, like Kieran from exceL Eesports, Phil from Enclave Gaming, and various people. It’s good to chat.”
Where would he like to see the scene in a few years’ time?
“I’m hoping the UK scene starts to see some more investment,” Jeff explains. “The top-level orgs in the UK like Fnatic, and also exceL and Vexed… then there’s so many in the pit just below, which I’d include ourselves in. A lot of teams in the League of Legends Forge of Champions – which is brilliant – are in that bubble.
“It’s about getting those orgs up to the same level, so there’s more representation for the UK.”
And finally, Jeff mentioned he would like to see more content creation opportunities erected from non-endemic sponsorship deals in the future.
“Last year we spoke to some condom companies about sponsorship!” he said. “And recently Unicorns of Love announced a deal with a condom company. In the past there were some rulings against a team that was sponsored by YouPorn, but I think there’s a difference between porn and safe sex!
“So hopefully we can get some interesting partnerships and make some interesting content. Any non-endemic brands getting involved, we could do some really good things.”
Jeff previously wrote an opinion piece for Esports News UK, where he said: ‘If you’re going to start an esports org without some budget or experience, you’re too late to the party’
George has been writing general content for about two years now, and is now branching out into gaming and esports. He also runs a Twitch and YouTube channel and is currently at university.
"My first pieces were published on my stream network site TheBNN who have a small blog that's quite general," George said. "It was initially Overwatch mechanics and updates, but has begun to spread into other areas and other games.
"I also used to do a little remote casting for amateur CSGO teams, which I still do on rare occasion for a few orgs through Broadcast.gg. I'd really like to get some on camera experience with esports, and hope to cover content at LAN events or even end up hosting desks."