Enjoying a climatic end to their debut NA LCS split, FlyQuest eSports has reached the semi-finals of the playoffs just eight months after securing promotion from the North American Challenger Series. Rebranded from Cloud9 Challenger, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens purchased both the roster and the team’s LCS slot. Given the assumed capital associated with eSports’ venture capitalists, fans of the legendary C9 players expected an infrastructure that would provide a foundation for success.
Given the level of investment and competition present for the NA LCS Spring Split, many analysts predicted FlyQuest eSports would be amongst the relegation strugglers. With an ‘ageing’ lineup and a worrying lack of support staff in place, FlyQuest surpassed all expectations by marching towards the summit of the league.
Despite a slump in form towards the end of the season – free-falling to a 7-7 record after losing six consecutive fixtures – FlyQuest secured their spot in the playoffs, scheduled to face Counter Logic Gaming. A dramatic series saw the seasoned squad fight back from a two game deficit to reverse-sweep the series 3-2.
Few could have anticipated the team’s dramatic revival, not only in their quarter-final match, but over the course of the final weeks of the regular split. Yet what makes FlyQuest’s story even more remarkable is the adversity the team have had to battle behind the scenes…
Given that the team was compiled in the ‘final hour’ before Riot Games’ deadline closed for the split, the FlyQuest squad were afforded very few of the basic requirements provided by their rivals – computers to practice on, for example. Speaking shortly after the team’s victories in week 1, jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate revealed just how unprepared the team’s management had been for the beginning of the season:
“The lower expectations people have for you, it’s less pressure almost, because people don’t expect anything out of you.
“We were doing pretty poorly in scrims – We didn’t have computers (for practice) or anything, so we weren’t really expecting much this first week.”
Galen “Moon” Holgate
The sense of managerial negligence was compounded by an end of split interview, in which Hai detailed the lack of support staff available to the team in addition to the team’s sub-standard living conditions:
“We have one coach, not even an analyst and us five players. Other teams have five analysts, positional coaches, we don’t have that so we’re doing what we can with what we have.
“There’s a shortage of quality coaches and analysts in the first place, it’s a big commitment to move someone in to do a trial run.
“Our place isn’t that big anyway – it’s a five bedroom, I don’t even live in there – so we’re already running low on space in the first place.”
Hai “Hai” Du Lam
Given that the value of the former Cloud9 roster’s contracts combined with the LCS spot totalled at approximately $2.5 million, many fans expected better from FlyQuest eSports’ major stakeholders. Voices within the community have since branded the team’s ownership as being ‘negligent’ – coincidentally this is the only form of branding associated with the organisation, given that the team are yet to boast a single sponsor.
In response to the criticism levied towards the team infrastructure, FlyQuest eSports’ team manager later released a statement expressing the desire to bring in addition support staff and amend the existing issues with the team environment:
“While we’re still ironing out some problems at the team house, we are constantly thinking of ways to help the players feel more comfortable.
“The management and support staff at FlyQuest might be few in numbers but we’re working extra hard to make sure everything that needs to get done is done.
“We look forward to hiring new staff members for next split.”
It is a testament to the game knowledge of Hai, support Daerek “LemonNation” Hart and Head Coach Thomas “Thinkcard” Slotkin that FlyQuest have achieved such success in their first split. Thinkcard admitted himself grateful to the addition support the team had received from external analysts ahead of the playoffs:
With regards to FlyQuest’s management, for now they should be granted the benefit of the doubt. In line with the team manager’s statement, FLY’s investors were likely waiting until the Spring Split was over before drastically altering the team infrastructure. Considering that the investment was confirmed with little time to put preparations in place, it is feasible to assume that issues such as the gaming house, securing sponsorship and hiring support staff were constrained by time, but will be addressed imminently.
With respect to the adversity the FlyQuest roster have battled with throughout the Spring Split, to have reached the semi-finals of the playoffs is a remarkable achievement. With a more comprehensive support network behind the team, the LCS veterans will be hoping for even greater success in the summer.
Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim's transition from aggressive ADC to shotcalling support not only defined Fnatic's legacy, but cemented the icon's position as one of the all-time greats of the European scene.
Aphromoo: AD Carry to Support
Aphromoo's success as CLG's support has been widely documented. His decisive play making made him a natural fit for the role after the organisation switched him from AD Carry. "Support is so easy dude!"
WildTurtle: Top to AD Carry
A veteran of the scene, WildTurtle is renowned for his aggression as an ADC, though his career initially started as a Top laner the lesser known entity, Monomaniac Dominatus.
Doublelift: Support to AD Carry
Another veteran AD Carry who started his career elsewhere on the rift. Playing under the banner of the kings of role swaps, Counter Logic Gaming, Doublelift was moulded into the ADC star the world knows today.
Voyboy: Top to Mid
Known for his carry top lane champions, Voyboy made the yet to be repeated move from top lane to mid whilst playing for Curse.
Altec: AD Carry to Support to AD Carry
During his period playing with WinterFox, Altec briefly spent a spell playing as Support... WFX lost both games before Altec returned to his natural ADC position.
Ambition: Mid to Jungle
Ambition is one of the greatest Korean League of Legends players of all time - the only black mark against his career will be his decision to pursue life as a Jungler.
Chauster: AD Carry to Support
Name a position on the rift, chances were that Chauster could play it on a competitive stage if it was needed. Chauster was a great ADC but stepped aside to allow Doublelift to develop in the role.
Xmithie: Jungle to AD Carry
After establishing himself as perhaps the best Jungler in NA during season 3, XDG opted to move the now CLG man to ADC. The swap had disastrous consequences with the team ending up relegated having previously reached the World Championship. Xmithie returned to the Jungle and never looked back.
CoreJJ: AD Carry to Support
One of the most surprising moves in recent off-seasons, CoreJJ announced that he would be leaving struggling Team Dignitas to join Korean powerhouse Samsung Galaxy as the team's new Support.
Hai: Jungle to Mid to Jungle to Support to Mid
The value of Hai's shot calling is so great, that team's will look to accommodate him into the roster wherever they can.
HotshotGG: Top to Jungle
Now owner of Counter Logic Gaming, HotshotGG established his reputation as a feared Nidalee player in the top lane. His move to the Jungle after internal disputes signalled the downwards curve of his playing career.
Kiwikid: Top to Support
With the iconic Dignitas roster lacking a Support for Imaqtpie, Kiwikid was quick to offer his services in the position. Both Kiwi and QT were quick to admit that the former Top laner was far from a natural in the role, but their friendship allowed for the Dignitas roster to persevere.
Locodoco: AD Carry to Support
Perhaps the worst role swap in history, after paving a career as a decent AD Carry in Korea, Locodoco chose to move to CLG to play alongside Doublelift as a Support. Building up an expansive champion pool of one (Nunu), Loco quickly realised his error and returned home to play as an ADC.
Lustboy: Jungle to Support
Lustboy's career switch from Jungler to Support was an immediately popular decision. Following his move to NA to play with Team SoloMid, the Korean established a cult following on account of his fearless plays.
Xpeke: Top to Mid to AD Carry to Support
Over the course of his seasoned career, Xpeke has covered every blade of grass on the rift. Beloved for his Fnatic career as a Top and Mid laner, with Origen spiralling the drain Xpeke has since tried his hand at ADC and Support roles... displaying amateur proficiency on both occasions.
Impact: Support to Top
It goes without saying that if you role swap and become a World Champion as a result, then the swap was undoubtedly a success. Impact was considered to be a mid-tier Support in Korea, but after switching to the top lane, he established legendary status as SKT marched to their first World Championship.
Alex Ich: Jungle to Support
An icon of his era, few remember Alex Ich initially started his professional career as a Jungler. Alex Ich only became the fabled Mid laner for Moscow 5 on account of an internal dispute.
Uzi: AD Carry to Mid
The prospect of facing Uzi struck fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned AD Carries. Yet after his dominance of Season 3, Uzi spent the next half of Season 4 as a below-average Mid laner. Thankfully the change was reverted, though his former glory was never quite reestablished.
Saintvicious: Jungle to Support
Known as a competent Jungler, after switching from CLG to Curse, Saint decided to step away from the Jungling role. After initially adopting a coaching role, Saint took over as Support as the team slumped to 6th place in an eight team league.
Piglet: AD Carry to Mid
How will Piglet compare to other memorable role swaps? Whilst his mechanics are certainly up to LCS standards, does Piglet possess the necessary knowledge of the position to lead Team Liquid to victory?