Organisations compete. But it takes a team to win. From Brotherhood to Reapers, Demise have retained a unique sense of unity and purpose as they look to upset some of the biggest names in the UK League Championship.
In April this year, a motley group of friends found a couple of teammates to fill out a squad and compete in the Forge of Champions Open Qualifiers, signing up at the very last minute. Playing under the name of EJBY Brotherhood—so named for the Danish hometown of the de facto team captain, Batu Kibar (previously known as ‘Ceikey’)—the team tore through its opponents, defeating amateur teams from across the UK and Ireland and eventually even qualifying for the UKLC.
Now set to compete in the top tier of local competition, the players signed with Demise, an organisation extremely active in UK esports. They head into the UKLC Summer Split in black and red, carrying the Reaper on their chest and the weight of their own expectations on their shoulders. Gluing it all together? A fundamental team spirit that has remained unchanged since the start.
Forge of Champions
Demise hit the ground running in Forge of Champions. In fact, they played so well, that Batu had trouble believing it. “Honestly, we didn’t really expect the results we got, but we were kinda lucky with how our team worked out, because we had a lot of natural synergy, ” he said. “It sounds kinda cheesy, but we really fit well together, me and my team.”
The results were extra surprising because of their lack of practice. “We literally did not play together until we were in the main Forge tournament. We just seemed to win every game, and we couldn’t really explain why.”
The team won five straight games to emerge from the first Open Qualifier as the highest seed heading into the Forge of Champions Main Event. There, they took the first match in a best-of-3 against DarkSpawn Gaming, but were ultimately knocked out after an entertaining series that left them feeling positive heading into the Promotion Tournament.
“We did a lot of prep for the actual Promotion Tournament,” said mid laner Tait “Vixen” Bould. “We had a good couple of good quality scrims before […] and we felt pretty confident coming into it. We knew how good we could be, and how good our players were.”
Batu was in a similar mindset; even though the public perceived them as weak, he, too, was feeling confident. “Even though everyone already wrote us off. They also wrote NVision [Esports] off, and everyone thought that Hybrid [eSports UK] was the only team that actually could contest the UKLC teams, but I’m glad we proved them wrong,” he said, adding: “it means a lot, actually. To prove people wrong. Because usually, people’s expectations of me have always been correct.”
Batu and Demise blew everyone anyway with a dominating run in the Promotion Tournament. The team beat NVision and Hybrid off-air, and then proceeded to 2-0 DarkSpawn and defeat NVision again (2-1) to qualify for the UKLC.
The team showed up particularly strongly in the crucial series against DarkSpawn. “Those were probably the cleanest games we’ve ever had,” Vixen said. “I didn’t die in either of those games, and that’s never happened to me in a competitive series in my life. Literally never. I think that’s evidence of how focused we were.”
— UKLC – League of Legends (@LVPukLoL) May 15, 2019
Demise’s League of Legends Team Manager, Joe, described how the organisation were keeping a close eye on the talent on display at Forge of Champions. “When the first season of UKLC got announced, we actually were really, really interested,” he said. “And we’d obviously never had a League of Legends team before, and we thought what the UKLC were doing was really good.”
“Then it sort of happened by chance, that we were having a conversation, myself and the two owners, and the league came up. I think it was once E9 had made the top 4, maybe? And we were like, ‘Oh, these guys are a free agent roster, we are really keen to get into this, let’s put some contacts out.’ So, I reached out to Batu, who’s the main captain.”
As chance would have it, Batu was already familiar with the Reapers. “He knew our org from our Super Smash Bros. players, specifically ZD, who competed at the [Smash Ultimate] Summit. And it turned out, Batu had actually spent money to vote him into Smash Summit, which was quite a nice tie-in, and he was obviously really excited when we contacted them.”
From that point on, Joe devoted more time to playing and learning the game, and rallying behind EJBY Brotherhood in Forge of Champions—even while the team were courting several other interested organisations. Looking back, he believes that their enthusiasm to support the players may have helped set them ahead in the race to sign the newcomers.
“We’re a very personal org, I’d say, so we put a lot of effort into getting along with our players, showing that it’s not about corporate and that we’re not here to just take these guys for a ride and leech money, because that’s not really what we’re about,” he insisted. “We’re also here to grow the UK esports scene, which is something we’re all very passionate about. And also, just to make a childhood dream into a reality, I guess; not just for us, but for our players as well.”
“I think that was one of the things that we showed off really well to the team; I was watching every game that they played, and I was cheering along like they were my team. No matter what happened, even if they didn’t sign with us, I felt like that was the best thing to do, because I’m a passionate person, the owners are passionate people, and we wanted to show that to them. And it obviously worked, because after they qualified, we gave them a couple of days and they said that they wanted to work with us, which was something that we were really, really excited about.”
? The time has come for the #Reapers to step onto the rift ?
The Brotherhood have become #Reapers ?
— Demise (@DemiseGG) May 31, 2019
As they charter the course for their first split, Demise are fully aware of the challenge that lies ahead. When asked what his aims for the team are during Summer, Joe said, “I think my cop-out answer would be just to maintain our split position into 2020. But the thing that I love about this team is that they’re all so driven and motivated, and that they don’t wanna just stay in the league to next split. They wanna go out and show what they can do.”
“Fnatic [Rising]’s gonna be number 1 and Excel [UK]’s gonna be number 2,” stated Batu. “And Fnatic is far above everyone else. I think, from seventh place up until third, it’s really up in the air—it just depends which team ended up having the better infrastructure, because I think, individually speaking, every team is kinda close. Except NVision. I think NVision is gonna be like DarkSpawn last split. But I think the rest of the teams are gonna be competitive.”
Meanwhile, Vixen has his eyes set on one team in particular. “MnM [Gaming], I’m really excited to play against, because I like a lot of the players on that team,” he said. “People are like, ‘Oh, UK players are bad.” You know, it’s like, kinda true? But there’s this full roster here of UK players, who can at least get top 3. I think that’s absolutely the minimum aim, y’know? Which is f****** sick. They’re probably the most exciting team, just because Fnatic is a known quantity.”
Asked for his own objective for the split, Vixen answered, “My personal aim is top 5. Top 5 and I will be completely satisfied. Anything above that is a bonus.”
With eight other teams to compete with in the UKLC, it can be hard for new faces to set themselves apart from the rest. For Joe, it’s the strength of Demise’s team spirit—their own brotherhood, in a sense—that distinguishes them.
“Obviously, it’s hard to comment about how other orgs are run from the inside,” he said. “But I know that players that we’ve signed that have played for other orgs constantly tell us how different we are to the norm. We had a player that played for Cloud9, and he said that he never spoke to anyone for two months. But we spoke to him every day. We were playing games with him. It’s a massive, massive things for us, as people, to help in any way possible. And that’s something that we think we do better than anyone else, I would argue.
“What we at Demise try and do is promote a feeling of us being a team and a unit; we win together and we lose together, you know. If the team loses, we feel that as much as them. We want to be the team that will fight until the last breath, that will fall on our sword and try our best to keep pushing and keep pushing and never give up, and never surrender. Just constantly trying to make people remember who we are. Our hashtag, and the thing that we run by, is “Fear the Reapers”. And we want people to fear us.”
You can follow Batu, Vixen and Joe on Twitter, and you can watch Demise when the 2019 UKLC Summer Split kicks off next month. Make sure you’re ready by following our channel at twitch.tv/lvpuklol. And stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more updates and announcements as all the season’s drama unfolds!