Colin "Solo" Earnest found himself in the unfortunate position of going teamless in the 2019 off-season after a rough ending to his time on Echo Fox, who was forced to sell their slot and exit the LCS last Summer. Regardless, he kept up his level of play, and stayed close to the scene, looking for opportunities should any arise. Around halfway through the 2020 Spring Split, FlyQuest picked him up as an assistant coach, a new role for the top laner.
However, he wouldn't keep that role for long. Just a couple weeks later, he was playing on stage after the team had seen a decline in stage performance through the middle of the split. He performed well with the team, and seemed to have retained most of his strength as a LCS Pro. Now, with the team in the losers brackets in the playoffs, they'll have to win out if they plan to claim the title and make it to MSI this Summer.
Watch our remote video interview here, or read the transcript below.
Parkes here with Solo, who is playing top lane for FlyQuest [along with Omran "V1per" Shoura]. You are still in playoffs, you're playing from home, but how's it going? How are you doing?
Doing okay, it's a little unfortunate that we lost. But we're in playoffs still. You gotta play everyone, you gotta beat everyone.
Yeah really. So we have a lot to catch up on here. Starting off, you joined the team about a month ago now, and you originally joined as an assistant coach. So before we get into you playing for them, how did the assistant coach thing even come about?
Well obviously I wasn't on an Academy or LCS team previously [this split], and I had been looking for work the entire post Echo Fox into LCS, this whole split. And they talked to me about Week 7 I think of LCS, and they seemed like they were interested in me coming and helping them out.
And I was excited to get started because nobody else had been knocking at my door for anything, so... I was like, "Hell yeah!" And just came in trying to do whatever I could for the org to help them win and be better. And that kinda translated into me helping the LCS team.
Was that transition smooth? What happened with that?
Yeah I mean I didn't really have super high expectations to be playing in the LCS because they were doing pretty well at that point. I think them having the 0-2 Week 7, I think they were kind of interested in mixing things up, trying to revitalize towards the end of the split. And so they threw me in to get some scrim time and they liked what they saw, so I was able to play some LCS for them.
Speaking of that, were you just hard grinding solo queue while looking for jobs? How did you stay in top shape? Normally pros talk about how all their real practice comes from being in the team environment when they aren't faced with inters and trolls all the time, and the crazy ping. So how were you able to maintain that?
I mean a lot of it was just playing solo queue while I waited. And that was part of the difficulty when I started playing with FlyQuest. I'm coming in so late in the game. I'm already starting to scrim Week 8 of the LCS. Everyone else is getting much better practice than I had, so that was a difficulty. And it's still something that takes some time. And yeah I think I've done a pretty good job overcoming that, but it's just kind of a disadvantage coming in so late. But I was just so glad to have been able to come in at all, so I'll take what I can get.
That a nice mentality. I imagine it's also difficult to gain synergy while playing from home, how has that affected your synergy with the team?
Yeah that kinda sucks 'cause I was already kind of cooped up in a way since Echo Fox, so for the last five or six months or something. I was already at home playing, so it was refreshing to go to an office and be around other LCS/Academy guys. You know and kind of have that environment, because I think that's what a lot of people love about being a pro too - being around other people that are similar to you that all want the same goal.
So it was nice, I missed being in a team environment and hanging out with my teammates and friends and playing League and enjoying it. And then like a week or two later, they were like, "Alright we gotta shut down the office because of COVID. That was kinda sad that I had just gotten into being able to do this stuff that I love again and then just got sent back to being a homebody.
So yeah that's been tough. I know a lot of people are having trouble with it because you miss being able to interact a little easier, but everyone is still playing with the same disadvantage, so you gotta move forward with that.
Sometimes Riot throws too many patches at you, but this time, they're making you play from home! Hahaha. So moving forward into the Playoffs, does FlyQuest have a specific plan for what they're doing with you and V1per, do you know what's going on, are you allowed to talk about that?
I honestly don't know what their plan is going to be moving forward. I just kinda go with whatever the coaching staff has decided we're going to do, so I guess we'll leave it up to them. But you know, we may split scrims, but I think either way, whoever is playing will try and help out the team as much as they can.
Of course, and speaking of the coaching staff, did you get much experience as an assistant coach? Did you do it long enough to even consider that on a future resume?
I'm not sure, hahaha. I mean I think a lot of players... You do spend time behind the scenes with the coaching staff. Either when you're subbed out, or even just watching Academy or something, you kind of get some experience. Not necessarily coaching, because coaching you have to do some authoritative stuff and actually decide what a team's going to do, but you get an idea of how the game is from an outsider's perspective and you have to play around limitations of certain players and play around their strengths. So you know it's definitely a good experience being in the back room for that period of time, but I wouldn't say that's a resume builder of me being a coach.
Yeah you and Eugene "Pobelter" Park are going to have some question marks in your coaching experience. So what are your plans moving forward. I haven't looked at the Contract Database, what is going on?
Oh I guess Pobelter is in the same boat too. And I'm signed with FlyQuest till the end of next year, so I guess through 2021, so I'll be with them till that point.
Oh so they actually did really sign you. Well cool, congrats I'm glad you got a team, even in that weird way.
Yeah me too, me too. I mean I was very fortunate that Nick Phan, the GM, went out of his way to take a chance on me, and I'm doing everything I can to make that worth it for him and to show how grateful I am. Because as soon as the Echo Fox thing ended and I didn't get signed to any team, I was like, "Well whatever team signs me, I'm gonna do my best to show everyone else that they all really screwed up."
So you're also joining up with some old Clutch coaches, with Anand "Curry" Agarwal and Lim "David" "DLim" Joo-sung. How's it been reuniting with those guys?
It's been good, 'cause we haven't worked together for a year and a half now or something. And I know David working in Europe for some time and Curry was an Academy head coach and then an assistant coach for FlyQuest, so I think it's just kind of interesting to see how much everyone has grown. Not only in their own roles, but working together and working with other people. So it's been refreshing to see them again. I enjoyed working with them on Clutch and I'm enjoying working with them now.
Yeah and probably a slightly better environment here as well.
Yeah and no shame on Clutch 'cause they were also a very new organization and we were their first team when they came in for franchising so I think there were a lot of difficulties for them on that end. They were new to the scene and FlyQuest is much more established than they were so top down is much more smooth than it was on Clutch.
Especially with their changes this year. So FLY was in sole possession of second place throughout much of the split, but then fell more recently. Any thoughts on what happened? And do you think it'll be handled and you'll get back on top?
I obviously came in pretty late in the season so it's hard to fully understand the first seven weeks and the ups and downs since I wasn't there, but from my perspective, we played well in a lot of games but I think consistency was a little bit tough. And that's in all aspects of the game, both play and draft. And I think part of - at least from my perspective - part of the reason why FlyQuest was so good throughout the split is because they were so quick to pick up on new picks and new styles. So hopefully we can find some of that and surprise people and be inventive.
Anything you want to say to fans or anyone watching you hoping you do well or hoping you mess up?
Yeah I mean there have been fans that are happy to see me back, and I'm happy to be back. So I'm grateful for people who have been supportive of me, so I think those people who have always been vocal about wanting me to come back and play again. So thanks to them.
And really quick, on that note, I noticed a ton of people on Twitter this year saying, "Omg, X top laner just had a bad game, sign Solo." Over and over. I think top lane has always been stacked in NA, but this year we had a lot of question marks in the top lane, even Impact who is always solid! Were you just watching this waiting for your moment?
Hahaha, I mean yeah I knew that was kind of a popular thing to say. And I get it, I think that's fair. Considering how I played on Echo Fox last split, not being on a team this year was definitely - I don't know the best word to describe it - surprising, shocking. Including to me. I understood why, I think there was a lot of misinformation out there and I didn't do a good job of telling my side of the story on Echo Fox. So there was basically a lot of negative information that ended up being inaccurate.
And I don't know, I just kept my head down and waited for my opportunity, and I was lucky enough to be on a good team like FlyQuest. So it's always hard to predict in esports. You just always have to do your best to be in the best position to succeed in whatever opportunity you have.
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