[Interview] FlyQuest names new CEO, Tricia Sugita, talks new Go Green initiatives and reveals The Greenhouse

▲ Photo by Parkes Ousley


FlyQuest have announced their final changes of the off-season, naming former COO, Tricia Sugita, as new CEO, and unveiling new initiatives for the year, along with a brand new facility. Sugita's first act was installing a Go Green initiative, doubling down on their original "Showcase Greatness" core from years prior.


The team is evolving its brand, producing new content, and doing more than ever in their own mission to prove that greatness is in everyone. They've already announced a solo queue show with Alberto "Crumbz" Rengifo to help fix NA, and they've got a bunch more planned, both on and off the Rift. 


Former CEO, Ryan Edens, will transition to FlyQuest's President, but claims total trust in the new leadership, “There is no one more qualified and deserving to lead FlyQuest than Tricia.” Inven Global met with Sugita at The Greenhouse, FlyQuest's brand new facility which unites all players and business staff under one single roof Sugita discussed the team's new goals and initiatives, what it means for them to think of themselves as something greater than just an esports org, and what we can expect from the FlyQuest brand in 2020. 


▲ Image provided by FlyQuest



Last year when we talked, I learned a lot about FlyQuest, you mentioned the pillars, your intentionality around being wholesome rather than savage, etc. So I wanted to follow up on that, like do you still have the same pillars that you mentioned then? 


I think we are still passionate about that, but this year our focus is really to get back to our roots and why we are here and what our beliefs are and what our vision is. So this year we are going to put most of our focus on explaining what “Showcase Greatness” means to us. For us, Showcase Greatness means we believe everybody already has greatness within themselves, and our goal is to help them find it and help them showcase that. 


That’s our number one thing. At the end of the day when people think of FlyQuest, we want them to understand our why. “What is our purpose, why did we get into esports, what is it we believe in, what is at our core?” And that is our vision, which is to Showcase Greatness. That’s what is remaining from last year to this year and forever, that will never change. 


▲ Image Source: Riot Games


As far as the initiatives, our focus will be really around our Go Green initiative this year, a change from last year. How we accomplish “Showcase Greatness” did change, but the heart of it - what we believe in - will never change. And again, this greatnes is not something that we are instilling in people, it’s not something we are making great. Not at all. Everyone already has that greatness within themselves, people are awesome. What we want to do is help people find their own greatness and showcase that to the world. 

Last year a lot of what I saw was your focus on women’s empowerment, representation, and inclusion. So are you shifting all of your priorities to Go Green, or is that just something being added to the top of the rest, like women's empowerment and other initiatives from 2019? 


So our women’s empowerment, our focus on collegiate, staff, storytellers, all the pillars from last year that you mentioned, those were all ways that we would showcase greatness. This year is all about the Go Green initiative, and everything we do will tie back to that. 


▲ Image provided by FlyQuest


There may be opportunities for us to work with women, because we care about women. We care about inclusion, that’s at our core, but yeah it will all be tied back to Go Green, our initiative for 2020. 



So what is this Go Green thing then? Are the jerseys made with recycled Coke bottles or something?


Hahaha. No, no they’re not. It’s gets pretty tricky. We are looking more into what it represents, what we want to display and showcase through the jersey. Something like a recycled jersey we need to look into more, but for stuff like the water cup you’re using right now, it’s 100% plant based. That gets a bit more difficult with jerseys based on providers, so we are taking it slowly, we’re doing what we can when we can and giving a conscious effort, but I’ll have more to share about what else it means for us to Go Green. 

Okay so we can sort that out later, I want to follow up on the women’s merch launch from last year first. How did it go?


Oh, it was super successful, and I think it’s because at the end of the day we made sure that it was more than us. That’s our whole strategy, helping showcase greatness in others. With that launch, we partnered with Women for Women International who does amazing work around the world. They work in war stricken countries or those with high poverty rates, helping women holistically, where they not only help them learn life skills to earn money, but also by educating their partners and community.


There are systemic problems in many of these countries, and only educating women wouldn’t even be allowed in some cultures if their husbands didn't agree. So they educate everyone, it’s really holistic - not just women fighting for women, but everyone. And that's really powerful for us. Again, we believe in inclusion and think everyone has greatness already within themselves.




Our women's merch was fully designed by myself and our female designer - and we covered everything. You know, it was thinking about how the women feel. Like, we tried on so many different types of leggings, asking, "Does this make us feel comfortable?" And it covering all the things we might be insecure about is what we were really conscious of in that process. But the biggest part was 50% of those proceeds went to Women for Women International. 


We just made a donation of $5,000 to them. And it's not necessarily about the quantity, but what it stands for and showing that we are going to be an org that gives opportunities to people. And we create those opportunities if they don't already exist. Women's merch is not that common in esports, so we wanted to do a full line.


And we wanted to do powerful clothing, not just a t-shirt or unisex, but sports bras, leggings, crop-tops... Things that are quote "traditional women's wear." And secondly, make sure it's for a good cause, and at the end of the day, you can serve others while doing what you enjoy. While you may make a purchase you like, by doing so, you're also helping others. 



Are you planning anything else with Women to Women International this year?


There may be some openings, but with our focus being Go Green, we will make sure it's still tied to that. So sure, as long as it fits in. We honestly care about so many things, but we have to focus. But for stuff like the umbrellas, I think any time we have an opportunity like that, we'll take it. We have umbrellas and we'll walk fans from the garage to the studio when it rains, and not just the FlyQuest fans, but anybody.


And yeah, some people memed us last year, saying, "You're literally escorting C9 and 100T fans." But for me, though, it's actually something we're very proud of, that's actually the whole point. It means thinking outside of yourself, serving others. Only walking FlyQuest fans is totally the opposite of what we're trying to achieve. 




So we already have a bunch of plans for initiatives around Going Green, but it's always a thought of why we're here and what we believe in. Any time we have the opportunity to do the right thing, we will be there.



Awesome! What are your content plans then? Last year you had the vlogs, you did awesome stuff like surprising Santorin with his girlfriend, you did the green screen stuff as well, so what is the plan moving forward?


Some things we are keeping, like the vlogs, but everything else we are manifesting Go Green differently. Even through our content. 



Well green screen works! 


Hahaha yes it does! But our content menu has definitely grown, and we'll be announcing more soon.





Are you going to workshop with Phreak and get as many puns in the games as possible? I want to hear as many nature/growth puns as I can next year. 


Well that's a little teaser. I can say planting trees will be incorporated in the game. And I hope that carries out and our casters really embrace that as well. 



I want to see Ivern and Daisy and a lot of Ocean Drake maps.


Yes, and for the Ocean Drake, we want that to be the FlyQuest Drake. You know like, "Oh wow, it's turning into the FlyQuest map!" And we want it to be like "Yay, we're planting everywhere, we're Going Green!" We want that in the comms. Hahaha. 

▲ Photo by Parkes Ousley



That's great. And you still have a bunch of fan engagements too, right?


Yes! But you'll see that manifest in different ways, and we're going to be very creative about it. 



Well let's talk about those then! First, why did you land on Go Green? Then let's get into how that will manifest later.


As you know, this year I'm our CEO, so I'm very excited about that and very greatful, and I'm ready to kick ass! And own it! And that's been the message internally, let's own this year and show them what we can do. And one of the things I'm most passionate about right now is Going Green. And my first act as CEO was to carry out my vision and what I believe in for the environment and what I care about and really execute that. Because that's a privilege and opportunity I have right now as CEO. 


Of course Showcase Greatness is at our core, and that's why I joined FlyQuesst originally, but now as CEO I can make the initiatives and launch them. So the first thing is Go Green, and that for us just symbolizes what's important to us. Like even just the color itself. 


Green represents nature and growth and harmony, and also the environment. It represents so much of what we believe in and we're just committed to showcasing the greatness of going green. It's our primary color and we're going to wear it proudly. And it's not just the color, but it represents what we believe in, the nature, growth, and environmental change. 


So we're focusing on ways to save the planet and facilitating opportunities to join us because we think everyone has the ability to affect real change in our planet, because it's the responsibility of all of us. And we want that to be our focus, that's why we decided to Go Green, because now with new leadership, and me having the privilege of being CEO, that's just what I believe in, so that's what we're going to do and go all in. 


▲ Image provided by FlyQuest


You're definitely showing passion around it, so I understand why that was your first move, but where did that originate from, what all does it mean to you?


For some background, like why I care about nature and what I think about it... It's not just beautiful, but I appreciate it and it reminds me to practice gratitude daily. And also, nature is just so powerful. Like nothing stops it. It's evolving everyday. In Winter, the plants will shut down, then re-blossom. And look in LA at all the sidewalks, they're all bumpy and jagged. Even the concrete can't stop nature. We want to be those roots, the strong, powerful, yet graceful team. 


So Go Green is caring about the planet, but we will invite people to do that with us, because everybody has the power to affect real change. We just want to facilitate that. Let's lead that! We want to be a platform to help people highlight the greatness we can do.  


We couldn't have gotten this Greenhouse, designed our jersey's the way they are, or thought about the initiative that we're doing without having the right people. And we need to lead by example, so anybody we hire has to really believe in Showcase Greatness in their core. And winning is a part of that, and we are going to win, but we are going to win in other ways than just that game. We are going to challenge the status quo. 


And the main thing is just that our people all believe there is greatness in everyone, it's not us that make them great. It's on us to highlight that to our fans and be bigger than esports. We can do whatever we want. 


And one caveat is that none of this means we are perfect. Greatness doesn't mean we're perfect, everybody makes mistakes. But at the end of the day, what defines you is what you choose to do after you make a mistake. It's the action you take after you failed. That's where you have growth, and that goes back to the nature, the strength, the evolution piece. Choosing to improve everyday. 


▲ Image Source: Riot Games


And we're human, sometimes we have bad days. Sometimes we tilt, either in game or irl, right? And we want to be there for each other and remind ourselves to remember why we are here. It's bigger than us, it's bigger than results, so let's make sure that's our core. And no matter what we do, every time we start something, I first talk about why we are doing it and how it relates to showcasing greatness, and then I can talk more about it.


We're an esports org, sure, but what differentiates us is why we're here, what we believe in, and then how we do it. That should hopefully attract people. It makes things simpler for us, but not easier. 



How so?


It starts and ends with "Showcase Greatness" and for players, that means being punctual. That means caring about your fellow teammates and cleaning your area and being professional. It's about caring about your teammates and showing respect. Being late means you have a lack of consideration for others. And we talk about that in our staff too. It even means taking solo queue seriously. Whatever you do, own it. 


That's why we're Going Green. That's why our facility is aptly named The Greenhouse. This is why we did our jerseys with floral design. This is why we have our initiatives this year, like "Save the Wild Turtles" and planting trees. We're also going to be doing ikebana, not just at our facility, but I want to have an opportunity to create ikebana and give it to our fans for example. 


▲ Image Source: Riot Games


And none of our initiatives are announced yet, so I'm just giving you a little teaser, but at least Save the Wild Turtles, planting trees, and ikebana, for now that's what you can expect. And for a little more, planting trees will incorporate gameplay... 



Ah, incorporating gameplay could be interesting, but what is this about ikebana? 


I've been doing ikebana for three decades - really since I could walk. And I am actually a certified ikebana sensei, so I can actually teach classes. But the whole reason why you do that is to make other people happy through your arrangement and express gratitude to other people. And the reason why I do it in the office is it's my way of expressing gratitude for our people, and I want to make sure we serve everybody else, so we are going to start creating them for others. 


▲ Photo by Parkes Ousley


And even when I used to stream, I would use my streaming money to create ikebana. And there was a time where I had over 40 people come with me in a park and we made 200 small ikebana arrangements. And I told them, it's not about our gaming community, it's bigger than that. 


So we walked them over to the hospital that was right across the street from the park and gave them to cancer and scoliosis patients since those are two things that really hit home to me. This has just always been a personal thing I connect with. 


It's not just that green is our color or that it makes sense given the current climate, there's even more depth to it for us.



That's great! And can you tell us more about the jerseys?


"For our jersey, you'll see the floral print, and that represents Going Green. It wasn't just something pretty, there is actually a lot of thought there too. It's, "Okay if we are 'Going Green' this year, what does our jersey look like?" It's having floral representation through everything we are doing. 


And I guess I'm the leader with that creative direction, but everything should have floral design. And we actually use the state flower of Wisconsin, because those are our roots, and we want to go back to our roots. We have the Bucks connection, and many more. And we also really lean into our primary color, green, so within our design we also have that representation. 


Also, everything is light scheme now too. Everything will be softer, more wholesome looking, and floral. And the floral design will be forever. This isn't just something we are doing for Go Green, we will always want the floral representation. So we may eventually do something like ferns or trees or something, but at least nature will be our design and we've moved away from aviation design.


It represents what people can expect from us in 2020, because we've grown. We're here to evolve and there will be a lot of changes and truly own our brand going forward. We did a lot of research and between both traditional sports teams and esports teams, nobody has done an official floral design for their main jersey (at least from what we found). 


When we say "Go Green," we mean it, and we want people to fully resonate and realize it's cool to care about the environment and nature, and it's cool to care about others. And just as nature evolves, our designs will evolve. So right now we're in Spring, but then we'll be in Summer, then Fall and Winter. So we'll always evolve as the seasons change."




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