After the announcement of the UK’s LVP-run Forge of Champions, we had the opportunity to speak to Enclave Gaming owner Philip ‘Britsaint’ Macartney on what this means for the UK scene, what this means for Enclave and what life is like as an organisation owner.
NTS: Back in April, Enclave played in the inaugural European Masters, which was a first of it’s kind for LoL Regional Leagues. Have you noticed any effects of the extra exposure that this brought to Enclave and the UK scene, particularly from fans of other regions that may not have previously had an interest in the UK?
Britsaint: I think the most impact it had was that it showed the path that we always wanted Enclave to take. When we first joined the ESL Premiership we always had the mentality that we didn’t only want to compete in the UK forever. Of course we always want to promote our national scene, not all teams would have stayed in the UK as there are other regions that are more profitable, but those that do stay have a passion for it. However we did want to progress onto a European scene.
The way we got our spot was actually very lucky. Because eXcel and Wind and Rain already confirmed their places from the previous season, two extra spots were dropped down to us and Misfits. This meant that when it came to the tournament, it was a case of “we’re quite lucky to be here, let’s see what we can do”. We went out there and could definitely see it was a different level to what the UK scene is, and it showed us that we wanted to compete on this stage.
In terms of exposure it has helped a lot, there are now a lot of people out there who know who Enclave are. We can even see this in scrims. When our LoL team scims, other teams will notice us a lot easier. I definitely think it helped overall for our reputation.
NTS: That brings us nicely to our next question, what were your expectations going into the European Masters? Did the team perform as they’d hoped, or is it perhaps more the case that there couldn’t be too much disappointment with results given that the team was reasonably lucky to qualify?
Britsaint: We never expected to reach the final stages, I think we all knew that our team was one that had limitations. Even though it was impressive how we reached 4th spot in the UK (being only the 6th highest funded team), we knew that these limitations would likely prevent us from making finals.
We did believe that we could make it to groups, and I was disappointed by the fact that, by that point, I think that there were certain players who no longer wanted to play with each other. Even though we were facing teams we had never lost to in scrims throughout the season, we were then losing to them which was a big shock in a way.
All in all we were disappointed, but we were still fairly lucky to be there so we have to be happy with what we got.
NTS: Moving forward, Forge of Champions was recently announced as the new primary UK tournament. As a team owner in the UK, how do you think this is going to benefit more than the ESL Premiership has in the past?
Britsaint: In a sense I feel sorry for the team behind the ESL UK as there are a lot of restrictions put on them. They definitely wanted to help, but had their hands tied behind their backs in a sense. However with LVP they have less constraints put on them and are allowed do certain things that ESL aren’t able to do, particularly in terms of transparency in their reach and how much exposure they are able to achieve.
In terms of Forge of Champions, they are working with us to ensure that this is a league that will blow up in the future, and that a path to a professional scene inside the UK is opening up. I think that’s something ESL wanted to do, but couldn’t due to certain constraints, which a Riot-backed LVP don’t have.
NTS: Enclave haven’t announced their FoC roster yet. Is this close to completion? When can we expect some announcements for this?
Britsaint: We should be announcing this on the 18th (this has now been announced here). The foundation of the roster has been finished for around a month and the players have been scrimming. We’re at a point now where we’re preparing for the league and preparing for the announcement.
All I can say is that we’ve done something that I don’t think any other team have done this season in terms of a certain player and where we’ve got them from. That’s something that I think will be quite spicy once we announce it and I hope the announcement picks up a lot of traction.
I will be very surprised if we don’t make it to Barcelona, and I will also be surprised if we aren’t going there as one of the main teams to win it.
NTS: What are Enclave’s expectations for Forge of Champions? What are the chances of seeing Enclave in the finals in Barcelona in September?
Britsaint: I will be extremely surprised if we aren’t in the finals in Barcelona. In terms of the UK, unless you have a gaming house then there is a finite amount of UK talent out there, for example with players like xMattyy going over to France. The UK talent is slowly leaving the scene and so there’s only a finite pool of players out there.
As there are multiple teams trying to get gaming houses, they are importing a lot of players into the UK as players must be staying in the UK to count as residents for Forge of Champions. Because of teams doing this, we think a lot of UK talent has been left and we’ve snatched them up. We feel that in the roles that have been left with UK talent, we’ve picked up the best players.
I don’t imagine that there will be a lot of teams will come through the qualifiers, no matter how much money has been put behind them, that will be able to match the talent that we have. I will be very surprised if we don’t make it to Barcelona, and I will also be surprised if we aren’t going there as one of the main teams to win it.
NTS: Now some focus on the team itself. Enclave was founded in 2015 and has now been running for 3 years. In the world of Esports this is quite a long time, and many teams would not last as long as this. Why do think Enclave has managed to find success and is continuing to grow?
Britsaint: I think Enclave has gone through certain stages. As an owner at the stage we are currently, I am not looking at it so much as a community organisation but more as a business. This is a business that has to assess it’s business needs, it needs to look at where it’s revenue streams are going to come from. It’s got to look at how we are going to make this viable and I think that, for the future, this is going to be extremely important in the direction that we are heading now in the UK.
I think that if I was in my current mindset that I am now when I first started then Enclave would be in a very different place and would’ve been bigger, but when I first started it it was kind of a case of “this is a community, we’re looking to really have fun and just enjoy ourselves”. I think because of that ethos a lot of people have been able to keep supporting Enclave; not just as fans but also volunteer work which has allowed to keep going along without huge investment.
Now it’s come to that point where I think we are taking it seriously in terms of business, but also trying to continue on with the values that we were built upon – still focusing on community, still focusing on our fans and making good content for them.
One thing that happens a lot is that some teams take it too seriously. You have to have fun, make a meme every once in a while. When I sit down with Sam, our Creative Director, we are trying to think of how to make things into a joke. That’s what our fans want and that’s what we feel is our niche in the UK teams.
You can kind of see the different personalities in the different organisations. I think eXcel is the one that wants to be taken very seriously, as a professional organisation, and I think in some aspects they definitely are. Diabolus want to be seen as the bad guys; the bad boys. We are the ones that are kind of the jokers, where we’ve mastered the art of flaming people and getting away with it which is great. Misfits speaks for itself.
Each organisation is starting to come out with their identity.
It consumes your life, and if it doesn’t consume your life then you’re not running the org properly.
NTS: For you, as an owner, what does your day-to-day look like? I doubt it’s a regular 9-5.
Britsaint: I would say it’s not a 9-5, but its a 9-1am. As the only source of income for Enclave I am still working as a Sales Executive, but I can multitask really easily. Throughout the day, even though I’m on the phone getting on suppliers, I’m still probably either watching scrims at the same time or talking with management and coming up with ideas.
I tried to get in a general manager and we had one until recently, but due to some difficulties in the pre-season he had to leave and I’ve had to take on a more hands on role, which I’m more than happy to do. I would say that the first part of my day, the 9-5, is me working out the day-to-day. Then once I get home I’ll usually have a meeting, around 18:30, or I’ll be talking with people or talking with investors/sponsors (with one that we’re announcing very soon).
I’d say that after I get home at 17:30, I eat dinner, and then I’m on my computer at around 21:30 until around 22:00 to 24:00 doing Enclave stuff. It’s a very long day, it’s very tiring, I’m pretty sure my girlfriend hates it, but that is life as an org owner. It consumes your life, and if it doesn’t consume your life then you’re not running the org properly.
NTS: Last question, something that I’m very passionate about. Where do think tomato ketchup should be stored, in the cupboard or in the fridge?
Britsaint: This is actually a really difficult question. I generally don’t give a shit. I could have it in the cupboard or in the fridge. At the end of the day, I think the proper place for it is probably in the fridge. If it’s in a nice, cool environment then it’s staying fresh. I imagine it’s probably the best, but if it’s in the cupboard then I’ll have it either way.