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The League of Legends Championship Series Lock In tournament began on Friday, Jan. 15. Ten North American teams are competing against each other before the official start of the Spring Split, and for some, its their first experience playing in the LCS.
Over the weekend, FlyQuest suffered a few losses for the beginning of the Lock In tournament. The entirely new team, consisting of a few former C9 players, one former Dignitas player, and a Latin American import, has plenty to improve on as the series progresses. Unfortunately, their jungler Brandon “Josedeodo” Villegas, won’t arrive in the United States until next week. For now, the team has to use their current FlyQuest Academy jungler Xin “Nxi” Dinh as a substitute until Josedeodo’s arrival. FlyQuest General Manager Nick Phan and Head Coach Paul “Kanani” Khouani spoke to Daily Esports about their current position as a new team, and their thoughts about the tournament so far.
Developing as a completely new team
Daily Esports: What are your biggest hopes for this completely new team as the season progresses?
Phan: “The biggest thing that we are going to focus on is developing identity and synergy. I think from those two focuses, along with the numerous individual focuses that a player has to have when they come into a team environment like this, is to worry about the results later and be who we want to be by the end of the year.”
Kanani: “Right now we are just trying to find a middle ground. I do think when Josedeodo arrives on the team, there will be a lot more clarity with how we want to play our future games.”
Moving on from 2020
During The League of Legends World Championship last year, FlyQuest made it to the end of the group stage before being sent back home to NA. The roster, including veteran players like Lucas “Santorin” Kilmer and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, surprised fans everywhere with how much they’ve achieved during the championship. Phan reflected on his time at Worlds and what he has planned for future team development.
Phan: “A lot of times, teams coaches and management get tunneled on focusing on the general areas of improvement. Sometimes, it comes down to the 1 to 5 percent of small details that can really change the direction or narrative of a program. So, last year we had been counted out at the start of the year. Everybody was saying our roster was washed, but there was a specific design we had with that roster. A specific identity that we knew would be successful from the very start.
This time, instead of a five-man veteran roster, we have one veteran and four players that are either in their first or second year in the LCS. Naturally, this is going to present a lot of challenges because these are all guys that, in facing different levels of competition and opponents, they’re going to see and feel the game differently.
It’s going to be up to us to make sure we harp on the new nuances, and there’s going to be a much more direct approach to individual development and performance. Some of the times a lot of what happens is they’ll scrim for 5 or 6 hours a day and after that, it’s relatively hands-off. And I think you can do that sometimes with veteran rosters, but when it’s new players it’s important that the steps for success outside of scrims are well oiled as well.”
Daily Esports: With that I’m sure comes open communication and a building of trust between each other in order to be a successful team.
Phan: “Yeah. We have a fun group of guys and they have a lot of fun playing solo queue, watching each other’s VODs, just spending time together. And that’s something that, in a lot of rosters I’ve had to work with, tends to be missing. I think a lot of guys have their own lives they want to tend to, their own interests, and sometimes you lose the spirit of that comradery. With us being relatively remote at the start of the season, being able to have a group of guys that organically are super excited to just spend two to three hours on a call together after scrims while joking and laughing, that gets consistent enough and it can develop into something special.”
Looking back at the first few losses
Daily Esports: This weekend’s games were pretty tough, what was the conversation like with the team afterward?
Phan: “I think when you take a loss as we did against Dignitas yesterday, It’s easy to get hung up on a lot of details on why you lost. Thankfully, we have a really strong support staff. Our coaches are great, our analysts are great, and our players are mature enough to understand that one loss is one loss, and if we treat ourselves as a results-oriented team, then those are going to catch up to us. We’re very focused on the process right now and how we’ll get from the team we are right now to the team we want to be in eight-nine months. The way we’re adjusting and communicating and how we take ownership in the game are things we’re going to see as the season progresses. In terms of game-to-game adjustments, were just taking it a day at a time.”
Kanani: “Just coming into today’s series, we didn’t have the expectation that we would like stomp C9 or anything because, in fact, we are playing with a sub. We have a new team with low expectations from fans towards us in this match-up, so I would just say regarding the pressure that’s being put on us in our games – that it shouldn’t be too high. So rather than having the mindset that we must win this game, we’ve tried to show what we’ve actually learned in practice.
We’re using the kick-off tournament as part of a project to figure out our identity, what are we really good at, and narrow down our mistakes. To all the FlyQuest fans, I would like them to not worry about the kick-offs. Right now we are just using this opportunity to shape up and align our identity.”