ExceL Esports (xL) Team Manager Ryan "Barnetto" Barnett speaks to Esports News UK after his side won the ESL Premiership.
ExceL Esports reverse-swept Team Singularity in the League of Legends ESL Prem Autumn grand final this weekend, coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
It was a display of character that will not come as a big surprise to those who follow the UK LoL scene closely: xL have been knocking on the door for the UK top spot for a while now.
ExceL have shown great strength and perseverance over the years. They have been through a lot - roster lock drama (here and here), having to compete with top teams like Infused, the Banditos and MnM over the years, and deal with the frequent roster changes, like other teams in UK LoL.
But they've pulled through, and now they have the top prize at last: being crowned ESL Prem champions.
"This win has been a long time coming for the players, staff and management at exceL. We have gone from failing to qualify for the ESL Premiership to winning it by believing in our teams and building them from the ground up whenever we have been knocked down."
Barnetto, ExceL Esports
We spoke to xL team manager Barnetto about the news. In a fast-paced scene where players and coaches regularly jump from team to team, he has shown rare loyalty to exceL, and has relished this moment.
"This win has been a long time coming for the players, staff and management at exceL," he told Esports News UK. "Since the start just over two years ago, we have progressed from failing to qualify for the ESL Premiership to winning it by believing in our teams and building them from the ground up whenever we have been knocked down.
"After going 2-1 up in the UK Masters finals we knew that being 2-0 down in the Prem finals meant nothing, we took every game as a new one and realised that the previous game has no effect on the next one.
"The approach from [coach] Furndog was to play what we know but adapt to the way Singularity were playing - a bold move considering at 2-0 down one would be inclined to completely change things."
For almost two years now, the winner of the ESL UK & Ireland Premiership has progressed to the EU Challenger Series Qualifiers.
This includes the Banditos, who went on to become Misfits.
However, last week Riot Games announced it is ditching the Challenger Series in favour of a league consisting of the winners from several national leagues.
As of yet, it's not confirmed whether exceL will automatically qualify for this new upcoming league or not. It's likely, but we await Riot's next announcement with baited breath.
"After the removal of CSQ, our future is somewhat in the hands of Riot," Barnetto said.
"One would hope that we will be invited to the Pan European League in which we will face the winners of other national leagues from throughout the continent.
"If this happens, we will be going all in to win, this has been our goal since day one and we are now in a position in which dreams are becoming a reality."
Here's how some of the players, staff and the community reacted following yesterday's final:
— Team Singularity👻🎃 (@SingularityDK) 4 November 2017
Wp @exceL, heartbreaking but will come back stronger
— Kallon (kerb) (@kerberos_lol) 4 November 2017
Yesterday still hasn't sunk in at all. One thing is for sure though, expect big things from excel in the coming months.
— Barnetto (@_Barnetto) November 5, 2017
SSG vs SKT: 3-0
xL vs Singularity: 3-2
We all know which was the real worlds finals pic.twitter.com/eoMLUKI6rz
— Innaxe (@xL_Innaxe) November 4, 2017
So proud of everyone @exceL this weekend pleasure to work with. Also my first UK trophy!
— Josh Furneaux (@Coach_Furndog) November 5, 2017
So fucking proud of my team.
— Shikari (@xL_Shikari) November 5, 2017
Arguably the tweet of the evening had to be this from Excel support player Aux (who correctly predicted Excel would win the ESL Prem this split, telling ENUK his prediction back at i61)!
— Dan (@xL_Aux) November 4, 2017