Finding an org: Nessy’s rocky road to the ALGS Championship

Europe's favourite underdogs tell their story so far

Valkyrie flies using her jetpack

Nessy is one of the best Apex Legends teams in the world, there’s no doubt about it. And up until last week, it was the best orgless team in the world by a long margin. The team announced that it had signed a contract with a major esports organisation on Twitter, and over the past days it has been teasing fans with gifs and memes.

The Apex Legends Global Series Championship – the biggest event in Apex Legends esports to date – is on the horizon, and the prize pool could potentially skyrocket to a cool $3 million. The best teams in the world will fight it out to be crowned the best in their region, and Nessy’s Martin ‘Graceful’ Wongprom, Jake ‘jmw’ Walters, and Rasmus ‘maydeelol’ Zettergren are the second seed in EMEA, a super-region combining European, Middle Eastern, and African teams.

Nessy achieved this consistency without the backing of an organisation, without a salary to fall back on, and enters the ALGS Championship group stages as the team with the second-most points in the region. Along with the likes of Gambit and Alliance, Nessy is one of the favourites to take home the crown.

The Loadout had the chance to speak with Graceful, jmw, and maydeelol to discuss the big move, look towards the ALGS Championship, and clear up misconceptions about turning down offers.

The orgless times

“We’ve been looking for a team for over a year,” explains Graceful. The in-game leader also leads the conversation. “We want to just be able to play the game without worrying about stuff like salary and whatnot. We’re one of the highest earning teams overall – we’ve earned over 70k now in prize winnings – but we’re still struggling with payments like rent.

“If you don’t have an org, you don’t have a salary. Even prize money, you still have tax on it, so you don’t really get that much. Having an org gives you a salary, and then you can focus on just playing the game at the highest level.”

The team explains that while they’ve had one major offer (which we’ll come onto in due course), most offers have been unsustainable, either offering a negligible salary or taking a large percentage of prize money, negating any monetary gain. Signing a contract with an organisation is about prioritising your financial security, and Nessy’s players didn’t want to be roped into a contract where they’d lose out, where the organisation might struggle to attract sponsors, or where they wouldn’t know where they stood.

Graceful also cited worries that a small organisation might not pay on time – likely in the wake of the Sola Fide scandal – and entering legal action could cost more than their contracts were worth. It pays to be picky, but speculation has surrounded Nessy and its orgless status for a long time.

“I don’t understand where these people are getting it from, saying we’ve turned down so many tier one offers. I don’t think any of us have said that,” explains jmw. Graceful points out that people may be confused with the smaller offers that he has mentioned on stream or social media, but the point remains that they’ve received little interest from big organisations. However that’s not for want of trying.

“We’ve literally messaged every single tier one org and didn’t get an answer from 90% of them,” explains Graceful. “So it’s not necessarily us declining a bunch of great offers but us declining offers where we’d get scammed. The amount of offers that would actually be sustainable is very few.”

The 10% of organisations who did respond, says Graceful, declined because they didn’t want to invest in Apex esports, had a lack of information from EA, or were “just unwilling.”

Wattson, Loba, and Bangalore wear brightly coloured armour and point their weapon at unseen targets

When North went south

There was one offer that went a step further than any other, however, when Graceful and maydeelol were signed to North’s all-Scandinavian roster with Oliver ‘Badoli’ Kurtuldu on the first day of 2021, replacing Mikkel, Can, & Dan.

However, two months later and with only a handful of competitive matches under Graceful and maydeelol’s belts, North ceased operations and all of its teams were released. The Swedish pair were reluctant to say too much about the situation because it was never in their hands.

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“It was just unfortunate,” says maydeelol diplomatically. “The only reason we took the offer was because of money issues,” says Graceful. “We didn’t want to leave jmw at all – we asked if we could bring him… But they wanted a full Scandinavian roster, so we didn’t have a choice.”

Brit jmw joined Endeavour’s orgless roster in the meantime, but the three reformed Nessy as soon as the news about North broke. Since that time, Graceful explains that they’ve had some other offers for one or two players – Luminosity Gaming tried to “poach” him and maydeelol – but they were adamant Nessy was staying together. Absence made the heart, and the team, grow stronger.

“We still don’t get why people take a top tier contending team – we’re probably top five in the entire world, maybe even higher – and they want to split us apart,” says Graceful. “It makes no sense.”

Nessy knows it is strong as a team, and that their strength lies together. “You’ve got to be more than just teammates inside the game,” explains Graceful. “We’re all friends outside the game too.”

While it’s important to have a good relationship outside of World’s Edge, the team works together as a trusting, cohesive unit, as evidenced by its success. “We all have each other’s backs,” says Graceful. “There’s so many teams that don’t do that, and that’s honestly why a lot of teams are struggling. maydeelol and jmw would die for any call I make, and they can make a YOLO call out of nowhere and I will fully commit. A lot of teams have trust issues, so to speak, and there’s so much more to that than just being teammates.”

The G2 offer

In hindsight, maydeelol and Graceful’s foray with North feels like a positive experience, but Nessy’s negotiations with G2 Esports at the start of May couldn’t be further from that, and emotions are clearly still raw.

“We were pretty much ready to sign from our side, we had the contract in our hands, and G2 pulled out,” claims Graceful. Nessy had seen the proposed contract, but less than 24 hours later the trio learned that G2 had backtracked on its decision to enter Apex Legends esports at that time.

The trio believes that their relatively small following on social media and Twitch could have contributed to the organisation pulling out, saying that it was implied that they would have been signed if the decision was based solely on results. The Loadout has reached out to G2 to confirm and respond to Nessy’s claims.

Bangalore runs away from a fight, leaving Rampart behind her

Nessy took this to mean that their platforms weren’t big enough to guarantee viewers on streams or eyes on the G2 brand. “[G2 was] hinting at us being a smaller team in terms of platforms. It said that it wants to look to invest in other regions – most likely NA because that’s the most flourishing region in terms of viewership for tournaments. At least now we’re getting EU Twitch Rivals tournaments, which is a step in the right direction, but overall the viewership in NA is much bigger.”

Graceful adds that he feels like organisations are “taking the safe route,” and jmw says “it feels like no org wants to take the gamble” on a team that performs well but may not have the following to match.

He says that organisations look for safety in streaming numbers, and would potentially prefer to sign a team that performs worse in tournaments if the players had large and consistent Twitch streams. “We understand that it’s a business in the end, and I don’t know if G2 got stuff from above the guys we were talking to and that’s why they decided to just change their mind at the last split second, or what.”

All three players are focused on building their platforms, but as of May 12 they finally have an organisation behind them to help with that.

Gibraltar performs a finisher in the desert, waving one hand in the air and wearing red and gold armour

The dotted line

Fans believe the likes of 100 Thieves or FaZe could be the mystery organisation picking up Graceful, maydeelol, and jmw, likely fuelled by a Nessy tweet about being kitted out with chains – something both are known for dishing out to their players and creators. The trio is keeping the details close to their chests, but tell The Loadout that the organisation in question will make an announcement before Nessy’s first ALGS Championship match on June 1.

However, Graceful was willing to reveal some details about their contracts, and what the org will offer the dominant team. “All of us are good content creators in terms of the content itself, but we all suck at uploading shit,” he laughs. “So we’re going to get help with editing.”

As well as negotiating a reasonable salary that will give the players peace of mind and help them cover their bills, Nessy’s new contract wasn’t focused solely on the money that an esports organisation could offer. “We are focusing on building up our brandings as well through this org,” explains Graceful.

While Nessy is hoping that the new organisation will help with the branding and marketing side of esports, the team is committed to keeping their successful formula unchanged.

“Being signed to an org won’t change how we do things at all,” says jmw. Nessy’s current practise revolves around weekly Community Cups hosted by GLL. They’ll scrim if they feel like it (and if the quality is up to scratch, which isn’t always the case in their opinion), but the Community Cups are their most consistent practise arenas, and they don’t see that changing. “We’re successful because we’re disciplined,” says Graceful. “Why would we change that?”

Nessy has grown a fanbase based on its orgless, underdog status and fans have flocked to the team, supporting the team when fighting (and often beating) established organisations like Alliance and Na’Vi.

“A lot of people like to root for the unsigned team, the underdog, but I think with this org we’re still gonna have our entire fan base,” says maydeelol.

It does seem unlikely that fans will emigrate to a different unsigned team just because they are unsigned. Nessy has a certain charm, and perhaps some of that will be lost if they rebrand, potentially change their name, and have the backing and branding power of an organisation. But ultimately, the team knows that at its heart are the same players, and they haven’t changed at all.

The robot Pathfinder swings over a lake, away from an explosion

The big one

Like many teams, Nessy is looking to the latest addition to Apex Legends, Valk, to help it take home the ALGS Championship. Mostly partnering her with Wraith and Gibraltar, jmw is strapping himself into Valkyrie’s iconic jetpack to aid the team’s manoeuvrability.

“It fits us well because we used to play Pathfinder, Gibby, Wraith, which worked very well,” he says. “So any movement character fits in well, we can take space or fights which helps us a lot. Since we’re an edge team most games, Valkyrie helps a lot, especially when we get gatekept by a couple of teams.”

maydeelol points out that Valkyrie’s ultimate ability – which jmw uses to reposition the squad in inopportune scenarios – has great synergy with Gibraltar’s Dome Shield tactical, which protects you during the otherwise vulnerable power-up time before Valkyrie can take the team to the skies and redeploy. The combination has “saved us many times,” he says.

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With the Championship looming, the teams seeded and groups drawn, Nessy is confident. After all, these players are some of the most successful Apex Legends esports stars in the first year of the ALGS, so they have the results to back it up. maydeelol believes that this confidence is integral to the team’s success.

“Confidence is always a factor,” he says. “You can’t go into anything and be like ‘oh, I don’t know, maybe we could try for a top 10?’ You have to have the mindset that no matter what, you will be the winner.”

Nessy isn’t feeling the pressure, and has its sights set high for the Championship. Graceful effectively summarises the team’s feelings ahead of the biggest Apex Legends tournament yet. “I’m not scared about our group at all,” he says. “We are one of the best teams in the entire world.”

While its lack of social media clout has seen it lose one big opportunity, it’s safe to say that whichever team has taken Nessy under its wing has three players that are not only skilled and determined, but principled. When the team could have split, it didn’t. When the team could have signed to a less-reputable team out of financial need, it didn’t. But when the team heads into the ALGS Championship, it will go on knowing it finally found the right place to call home.