On May 7th 2021, Resolve acquired long-running UK organisation Barrage Esports. It was a surprising turn of events, and meant that Resolve would be slotted into the NLC for the Summer 2021 Season.
This may mark an abrupt end to Barrage’s steady navigation through UK esports’ often murky waters, but UK League of Legends should not forget them. So on that note, here’s Megalodontus’ tribute to Barrage Esports’ past endeavours as we look towards Resolve’s future.
Barrage Esports is a name I’ve grown familiar with during my writing journey with Esports News UK. So much so, editor Dom Sacco and Barrage management Jeff Simpkins and Richard Froom and I had an inside joke of turning this website into Barrage News UK. We’ve had the privilege of witnessing the ups and downs in their journey, from the ESL UK & Ireland Premiership to the NLC.
But let me be clear here: I am by no means an old head in the UK esports scene. I’m quite a new face, so I couldn’t deftly tell you what happened at 11pm in an event sometime in 2016/2017 somewhere in the UK, and how Jeff celebrated half naked when one of his esports rosters won an important match with an incredible scoreline.
Maybe he didn’t do that, but I digress.
I understand very clearly how writers for news outlets must repeat and embrace the mantra of impartiality, and I strive very hard to maintain that standard. But if I had to choose a team from the UK and Irish scene in League of Legends that epitomises the underdog that never gives up – despite unfathomable odds – I would pick Barrage Esports.
Barrage were around before their most recent owner, Jeff Simpkins, bought the organisation – their first tweets were in early 2014 and Esports News UK’s first interview with Barrage was back in 2017. But it was under Jeff’s stewardship that they put their name on the UK esports map.
In terms of my earliest memory, I can recall hearing about Barrage in 2019, during the LVP’s UKLC, which had a tower format so legendary and adored that its praises are still sung by gleeful cherubs every now and then. I recall seeing a team with the logo of a warship and thought cheekily how their cannons were constantly misfiring, considering 2019 wasn’t exactly an impactful year for them in terms of results.
I began writing with ENUK around that time. I wrote a piece looking at which teams could represent the UK & Ireland in the prestigious bi-annual EU Masters event, enthusiastically typing out nonsensical analogies on which team would make Her Majesty proud in the continent. Barrage were not on my list.
But throughout 2020 and 2021, no matter how many boat memes flooded the streams of social media, Barrage steadily sailed on and proved to be one of the consistently highest-placed UK LoL teams outside of the resident academies, despite often having relatively sparse resources to work with. Both praise and criticism were forthcoming, but the deed was done: Barrage shifted the public’s perception of being a free win to a serious contender.
I sincerely wished to see them rise from the depths and truly flourish. Rooting against the Battalion proved difficult, as Barrage carried a glimmer of hope that whispered ‘what could be’: a rebellious spark built from resilience and shrewd planning in effort to achieve a giant-killing coup de grâce upon the NLC’s – well, then UKLC – ruling dynasties.
But an organisation is more than its results. It is also what they stand for and how they apply their ethos to a wider reach of things. Like all teams within the UK & Ireland circuit, they’ve had their bit of ‘UK drama’ (eg. Barrage Retirement Home, anyone?), but they’ve also championed good causes, such as creating safe spaces for women in their discord, or how well they handled their former Rocket League player Oaly’s misconduct to set an example for other teams. Or, the time Barrage hit back at Aldi’s awful Teatime Takedown campaign.
They’ve also done what they could to help younger or sometimes overlooked talents, such as their recent participation in the LoL Student Proving Grounds.
The now ex-manager/LoL director, Richard ‘Froomie’ Froom (remember that time someone admired him so much they tried to steal his identity?– Dom) also helped the older UK Proving Grounds to scout new players, which was in collaboration with ENUK and British Esports.
There was also Barrage’s recent foray into the North American amateur circuit and the aforementioned Rocket League roster who went on to participate in a Major event. Barrage also beat the big boys at times, like Fnatic Rising.
So what does their sudden departure mean for the UK and Irish League of Legends scene and the NLC as a whole? I’m not sure, honestly. Despite all of their best efforts, all of the small successes building up, it paints a bleak picture.
It’s certainly a challenge to get the necessary backing if you’re a grassroots UK org. But orgs have done it, like Excel, and now Barrage.
The move makes sense. Resolve, as far as I know, are a team the scene needs. Their rise from UKEL to UKLC and then being slingshotted into the NLC is extraordinarily quick, and they’ve so far proven to be ambitious. They have the potential to build a solid foundation within the NLC as one of its premier organisations, one that could also pave the way for future UK and Ireland brands to follow. While many might read this and scoff, I do think we are in need of some positivity, a smidgen here, in these trying times.
Resolve are now, as Barrage were, the only UK team in the NLC other than the giant academy sides of BT Excel and Fnatic Rising.
As the NLC and UKLC summer approaches, many questions and concerns will undoubtedly be raised. Are Resolve a good edition to the NLC? Can they keep up with their almost meteoric rise through the ranks? Can they do what Barrage could not? There may be more questions than answers. For now, we await their actions on the Rift.
Resolve are now the admirals sailing into uncharted waters, their vessel marked with scars of battles past, once weathered by its former captains Barrage Esports. What tales of glory will be etched upon its new hull?
Whichever route Resolve chart, they will build on Barrage’s legacy, and should they find success or not, the scene will not forget the heart of the warship that once soldiered on against all odds.
Perhaps one day we will see them target their battleship’s guns once more. But until then, we close their chapter and turn the page to another story, one that hopefully will regale new and old faces alike. And just maybe, we’ll see a ship in there somewhere, full speed ahead, waiting to catch the new wave.
You can follow Resolve via the Resolve Twitter account and their community account.
Megalodontus is a miraculous survivor from the mass extinction and somehow learnt how to use his stubby fins to operate complicated mechanical equipment and drink tea. Worryingly for cryptozoologists, he’s been writing League of Legends articles too.
A self-taught writer who’s had the privilege to work with good editors who aren’t terrified of his pearly whites, Megalodontus is often seen writing either independently or for various websites such as this one. When not writing, he usually runs it down mid in real life and is fascinated with watching paint dry.