A new BBC documentary charts the rise and fall of Excel Esports as the League of Legends team entered the LEC 2020 Spring Split.

15:09, 11 Jan 2021

If you've ever fancied yourself as something of an esports pro and can imagine running your own monopoly of teams as the next Matthew "Nadeshot" Haag, you might want to know what goes into making a team tick. Enter the world of Excel Esports - the underdog British team that's trying to make its mark in the tightly packed League of Legends scene. With the five members of Excel doing everything together, the BBC is highlighting their story with a new documentary called Fight For First: Excel Esports.

The new five-part series puts Excel in the spotlight and lifts the hood on how the team has entered the pro-LoL circuit. Fight For First follows the Excel boys as they compete in the League of Legends European Championship Spring Split 2020. Spoilers: Excel's performance was mediocre as it finished in seventh place and missed out on its goal of reaching Playoffs. As esports continues to break into the mainstream, the series promises to be a fascinating watch that's narrated by Peaky Blinders' Cillian Murphy. 

In the documentary, it shows how the team has been isolating together in a gaming house - similar to FaZe Clan. However, it becomes clear that all living under one roof is far from the fun and frolics of a frat house. The players struggle to disconnect from the game, while there's a continued pressure to spend every waking hour honing their skills. In one scene, Head of Performance Fabian Broich says, "When you’re in esports, it’s really rough to have a relationship with a partner, or even having a lot of contact with your family or friends". This sentiment is echoed by Patrik "Patrik" Jíru, who added, "I miss my mum, my dog, and my brother. My dad as well, obviously. But I prefer it here, because there is just more space – I don’t have my own room at home. But I still talk to my mum almost daily". 

Founded in 2014 by brothers Joel and Kieran-Holmes Darby, Excel aims to become a"British powerhouse". It's clear there's plenty of cash flying around, with Excel also boasting Tottenham Hotspur and England footballer Dele Alli as an ambassador. In the run-up to LEC, Excel appointed Joey "YoungBuck" Steltenpool as head coach and made efforts to secure its superstar roster of talent. There's a poignant moment in the first episode where Kieran said, "Your investors have put millions into the team - all they're going to see is play-offs or not". 

While most of those close to esports already know how rigorous training can be, the documentary shows how sports scientists, sports psychologists, and nutritionists are all part of the equation. Marc "Caedrel" Lamont also talked viewers through their daily routine that starts with cardio in the gym and an hour-long warm-up game. There are practices between 1pm and 6pm, followed by playing solo from 6pm to 12am. The documentary emphasises how healthy eating and sleeping are also part of the equation. 


At one point Son "Mickey" Young-Min explains how tough it is being away from your partner and trying to hold down a long-distance relationship. Interestingly, the Excel team has changed a lot since the documentary, with the current line-up being made up of Felix "Kryze" Hellström, Daniel "Dan" Hockley, PaweÅ‚ "Czekolad" Szczepanik, Patrik "Patrik" Jírů, and Tore "Tore" Hoel Eilertsen. Even though Excel improved on its placement of last in its first season, LEC was hardly the success story the brothers were hoping for. If you want to get to know Excel Esports a little better, Fight For First is on BBC iPlayer now.


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Images via BBC

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