All about the community: Let’s push for more UK esports events like Excel’s Neosurf Cup

Showmatches and one-off tournaments aren’t just exciting to watch, they’re key to nurturing a community, says Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco in this opinion piece

A wise magazine publisher I once worked for, Stuart Dinsey, used to say: ‘The key to being consistently brilliant is being brilliantly inconsistent.’

What did he mean by that? Well, what I took from it was not to get stuck in the routine of producing similar content over and over again. To challenge yourself, think outside the box, maybe add a guest editor now and then, do a special issue on something, shake things up, have the guts to try a new approach to a tried and tested piece of content.

I think you can apply this to almost anything in life, especially in the digital and creative industries, and certainly esports.

When I think of looking outside of the box in esports, I think of one-off tournaments, special events, pro-ams, initiatives where the community comes together for a shared cause, guest casters and fun 1v1s, that sort of thing.

This is also the kind of vibe I got from the Neosurf Cup hosted at UK League of Legends organisation Excel Esports‘ Twickenham Stadium HQ on the weekend.

As well as providing some top-tier League of Legends for fans to watch live (a showmatch between LEC sides Excel and Misfits), it was also a great chance to network, meet like-minded people and for the esports community to get together. For me, that’s so important and we don’t see enough of it.

It was refreshing to see something like this, outside of the usual LEC or UKLC format we’ve got used to.

Doors opened a few hours before matches got underway, letting fans congregate in an expo-style hall, watch 1v1s, grab some food and drink, have a look at merch (including Excel’s new jersey sponsored by BT) and meet Excel’s sister team Dire Wolves.

For someone like myself who doesn’t get much of an opportunity to attend live events like this anymore, it’s great to get out and say hello to people in the community. Ideas and experiences are better shared in person in my opinion and it gives us the opportunity to pass feedback direct to the event organisers.

I also liked how other team organisations were present, meeting under one banner and unifying in a way.

The talent was also welcome. We had some real top-tier hosts on board, including Sjokz, Medic, Foxdrop and Frankie Ward, and they added an extra touch of quality to proceedings.

The atmosphere was relaxed yet lively, as you’d expect from Excel (there were plenty of the ‘la la la la’ chants of course)!

The crowd were up for it and it was fun to watch different players in both rosters switch in from game-to-game (Excel’s Deadly and Misfits’ Febiven were personal highlights).

Excel went ahead 1-0, but fell behind 2-1, only to turn things around and take the series 3-2. It was an exciting watch and good to see the home side get the win.

My only criticisms were that the screen was a little small and a bit far back, and the observer camera at times did some wacky things, but other than that it was brilliant. All in all, there was a decent atmosphere, spirit and togetherness.

With all these positives, I was surprised to hear some rumours that I won’t publish here because I haven’t had time to research them and dig further.

What I will say is:

I really hope that Riot Games supports events like this, these are homegrown get-togethers that are vital for growing the UK esports/League of Legends community here and the truth is there aren’t enough of them.

I find it odd that in the three most recent years of Riot’s official UK League of Legends finals, two LAN finals have been held abroad (Spain in 2018 for Forge of Champions and Sweden this year for the next UKLC finals).

I’m sure there are probably reasons for that, but when we have facilities like Excel’s, Belong’s, the Gfinity Arena and countless other venues which have been used for esports events here in the UK, it would be great to use them for more gatherings like this.

I hope to see more events like the Neosurf Cup going forwards. If this is anything to go by, 2020 is going to be a good year for esports and League of Legends in the UK.

GGWP Excel, more of this please!

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