We are now officially halfway through the Spring Split, and FlyQuest sits in sole possession of 2nd place at 6-3. The established core of Top Laner Omran "V1per" Shoura, Jungler Lucas "Santorin" Larsen, and AD Carry Jason "Wildturtle" Tran has melded wonderfully with Mid Laner Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage and Support Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun, who joined the team after respective seasons with Counter Logic Gaming and Schalke 04. Only Cloud9 has faired better at 9-0.
V1per joined Inven Global's Nick Geracie after his team's most recent victory over Golden Guardians to discuss his relationship with FlyQuest Academy Top Laner Moe "Revenge" Kaddoura, the factors that led to FlyQuest's strong start this spring after a rough previous summer, and his former teammate Eugene "Pobelter" Park's mid-split joining of Counter Logic Gaming.
It's been a while since we've spoken, V1per. How have you been since the end of last season?
I've been pretty good. I had a lot to focus on this off-season individually, so it was pretty good. I'd say it was a successful off-season, for sure. I like my new teammates; the rest of us had a lot of talks about who we wanted to bring in for our team this season. I really like that we decided to get PowerOfEvil and IgNar. I really like them both individually as players and as people. I spent the off-season working on my issues and getting new teammates, and I think it went pretty well.
How has FlyQuest's performance in the first half of the split matched your initial expectations?
When we started scrimming, I knew right off the bat we were going to be a top 3 team. I had a good feeling in scrims, but scrims are a lot different than games on stage. As long as we are able to execute what we do in scrims and keep that up in our practice over time, we will keep that standing. Right now, it's only Spring Split, and Spring Split doesn't really matter for us. We're trying to get as good as we can until the Spring Playoffs, so we have to keep it up and keep our practice good.
Last spring, you earned Rookie of the Split honors and FlyQuest finished top 4 in the post-season. What happened last summer to cause the team to finish in 9th place?
I think our team atmosphere was really negative during a lot of that time. We were losing a lot of scrims, and everyone was tilted at each other. We started out the 2019 LCS Summer Split 0-4, and from there on, it was really negative. You could feel the negative energy from the team.
We were too predictable of a team last summer. People knew I played Riven, Aatrox...what else? There's nothing. In mid lane, it was the same thing — Azir/Corki, and people knew that. We had the same problem in the jungle. It wasn't really our meta, and we didn't really change anything for our team to become better. We kept that up throughout the whole split until the end of it; just before the 2019 LCS Regional Final.
I think before that gauntlet was the only time we were actually getting better. We were confident we would win the 2019 LCS Regional Final, but once we went on stage, everything went downhill. We lost, but it was a good experience. I don't know if last summer was necessarily a bad split for me, but it wasn't a good one.
This FlyQuest looks like a more flexible version of last season's team at its best. Would you say adding these new team members helped reset your atmosphere, or was it a longer process?
I feel like there is a lot of positivity on our new team. I feel like I can talk to all of my teammates about anything whenever I want, and I'm open to being there in the same way for them. I can call things out whenever I want, so there's not really a big issue in our team. Everyone is a consistent player, everyone takes practice really seriously, and you can just tell that everyone cares about each other.
When PowerOfEvil sees me doing a bad play in scrims, he'll just call it out right away, and the next game, we fix it. It's a slow process, but he's patient with it, and I'm patient with his problems, too. Everything is pretty good practice-wise, we just have to keep that up and keep executing well.
PowerOfEvil and IgNAr had played together before on Misfit, and you've been playing with Santorin and Wildturtle for over a year now. Cloud9's roster has a similar dynamic, so based on the first half of this split, is having an established core of players the key to success?
I do think it's really important to have a three-player core. We had that synergy coming in, and we knew that the three of us could make a good team if we found the right fit for the other spots. It was hard for us to find the right fit, but it's been going pretty well in the first half of the split. Santorin, Wildturtle, and I feel like we have really good synergy with our new teammates. It's just about keeping it consistent right now.
One of the few bright spots of last summer for FlyQuest was signing a new Top Laner to FlyQuest Academy. Your friendship with Revenge extends far past both of your tenures on FlyQuest, so what is your dynamic like within the organization?
Whenever I want to try out a matchup, I always call on Revenge. *laughs* He's always open to do 1v1s whenever I want, and he watches our scrims because he wants to learn and follow the path that I took to get to where I am. I popped off on Team Liquid Academy, and then I got into the LCS, so he wants to follow those steps.
It's been pretty good having Revenge on our team. He's been really supportive and helping out a lot, and he's a really good 1v1 player so it's always good to have someone like that to play against.
Do you feel like you can show him the ropes given the similarities in your trajectories? Before your professional careers, you were both known for being incredibly talented Riven One-Trick players.
Revenge is someone that I am really comfortable talking to because he's my friend. I've known him for a really, really long time, so I'm always open to talking to him. He even lives in the house with us, so it's always an open conversation between the two of us. I'm always down to help him out whenever he needs it, and there's nothing bad between us in that regard. He's always helping me, and I'm always helping him.
Sometimes an LCS player and an Academy player in the same organization don't have much of a relationship due to the nature of that dynamic, but since you and Revenge were friends prior to your professional careers, it's great to hear that has continued on FlyQuest.
I'm not afraid to help him, that's the thing. Some LCS Top Laners don't want to help their Academy Top Laners because...well, you know the reason. For me, though, I'm always down to help Revenge out. I want him to get to my level.
Instead of being afraid of him taking your spot, if Revenge is able to improve, and you're sparring with him consistently, that means you will improve too, right?
Let's talk about your LCS competition now that we are halfway through the Spring Split. Which teams do you think can turn it around in the second half of the split?
I think Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid are the two teams that can make playoffs despite struggling until this point. Other than that, there is Counter Logic Gaming. CLG is in the same boat that we are in terms of starting 1-8, and I think that state is really, really hard to come back from. I never thought I would experience it, but last summer, I did, so knowing the situation, I can say it's very hard to come back from that place.
CLG is definitely not a bad team like everyone is saying. I think they are a good team, and they can come back from this. It's a very small chance that they just stay at the bottom of the standings.
Your former teammate Pobelter made his first start for CLG this season today after spending the first part of 2020 as part of the Team Liquid coaching staff. Since he experienced this type of early struggle last summer as part of FlyQuest, do you think he can help CLG turn its split around?
I was thinking about that, and while we all know that Lee "Crown" Min-ho is really good, he hasn't been having the best split on CLG. However, I can already tell that CLG has good communication, so I'm trying to think of why they would remove Crown from the starting roster.
The only scenario I can think of is that the team needs a Mid Laner fluent in English to communicate well with their Jungler. I think that might be why CLG brought Pobelter in, but I'm not sure if he can save that team. They're already in a really bad slump, so it might be too late for him to join and save him. However, if he's still on CLG next season, it might be a good change for the team in the long run.
Thank you so much for the interview, V1per. Is there anything you want to say to your fans
Thanks for everyone who is being patient with me. I know everyone is saying that I'm always behind and falling behind in lane on broadcast, but for those that are being patient with me, it is going to pay off. We're going to be a top team. I have a good feeling about this year, and I hope people keep supporting us.