Leading UK esports company Excel has attained BBC fame and a Forbes feature for its founder since moving to Twickenham Stadium two years ago last Thursday.
Excel announced the anniversary of its HQ move and also that co-founder Kieran Holmes-Darby, 25, had made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for putting UK esports on the map.
The team also starred in a BBC gaming documentary, entitled Fight for First: Excel Esports, which aired in January.
Kieran said: “It’s so very exciting; it’s a nice bit of recognition and I’m really happy.
“I have lots of people — from school, distant relatives, people from university — messaging me to say congratulations and it’s really great.
“Gaming has always been a big part of our lives and we’re quite competitive people by nature.
“It’s been quite the journey from dorm room to where we are now, but a really exciting one.”
Back in 2014, after spending hours gaming with each other remotely from their university dorm rooms at opposite ends of the country, brothers Kieran and Joel Holmes-Darby started up their first esports team.
Noticing that this was relatively unexplored territory, they seized the opportunity to build a game-based organisation that would create a team of players and support them in a professional capacity.
On April 8 2019, what started as a stint in a temporary conference room evolved into the permanent establishment of Excel esports HQ at Twickenham Stadium.
From inside this purpose-built facility, professional esports players train daily alongside their coaching teams and performance managers.
Now, Excel trains its teams across three different games, which draw in millions of viewers around the world: League of Legends, Fortnite, and newly-acquired Valorant.
A rugby fan, Kieran was thrilled to work in the same building as England’s rugby team, and said a large contingent of the squad enjoy gaming, including the likes of Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ellis Genge, who he regularly plays at League of Legends.
Kieran said: “I can’t see a better option for us than Twickenham Stadium, and we’re more than happy to continue to expand that relationship.
“It’s a great environment for our staff and obviously us being based there has a lot of positive connotations for both the company and the esports industry.”
Shortly after their stadium move, BBC Three reached out to Excel about filming Fight for First: Excel Esports.
A small camera crew followed Excel’s underdog League of Legends team around for almost a year, showing their victories and losses, as well as their rigorous training regime and the relationships between the players.
Patrik and Tore, the standout players from the BBC Three documentary, are still on the team, while the other three were replaced with new talent.
Kieran said: “What I liked about the documentary is that it was really authentic; it was true.
“It shows what it’s really like to run a professional esports team. It’s super important to support the players but they do consistently compete on an elite level and you have to make difficult decisions sometimes.
“It’s a stupidly competitive environment and you have to make changes to get the best out of your team and to try and beat out your competitors.
“It’s a hard graft, I won’t lie – a very tough league that we’re in.”
League of Legends remains Excel’s flagship esport, as they compete in the world’s most watched and most competitive league.
The company also recently acquired Fortnite player Jaden ‘Wolfiez’ Ashman, 17, who became the youngest player to win £1m, when he was 16.
Kieran added: “We’re trying to support him in the hope that he can do what he did in 2019 again!”
Feature picture credit: Excel Esports