FlyQuest had a rough spring, but it hasn't compared to its struggles throughout the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split. Despite subbing in various configurations of players from FLY Academy to try and shake things up, FLY found itself on a 10-game losing streak following its week 5 matches. The next move? A full promotion of FlyQuest Academy to the LCS and a transfer of top laner Eric "Licorice" Ritchie to Golden Guardians.
This time, the shakeup worked. FLY Academy snapped the FlyQuest loss streak with an impressive upset over Cloud9 on Friday to open up week 6 and followed it up Saturday with its second win in a row, this time over Counter Logic Gaming. FlyQuest support David "Diamond" Bérubé spoke to Inven Global about the FLY Academy squad's promotion to the LCS, what caused him to struggle in his LCS debut in spring, and what has made the Academy squad the superior of FLY's two rosters.
How are you feeling after your 2nd win in a row this weekend?
I'm just chilling. It's just another weekend for the boys...no, it's nothing too new for me. I've been there; done that in terms of competing. Winning or losing doesn't affect my mood level. It feels good to win though.
What was your reaction to finding out FlyQuest Academy would be starting in the LCS following Licorice's departure and did having some members of FLY Academy play in the LCS for part of last week help the team at all this week?
We knew it was going to happen because the main team was struggling. We were playing against them in internal scrims and we had pretty good results as the Academy team. We traded a bunch of these pieces and figured some things out from when the last time we swapped. We swapped in what we thought were our best pieces and put them with some of the best pieces of our LCS roster, but then we didn't necessarily hold the same synergy.
Even though FLY Academy might have some worse individual players on paper, we have a much better understanding of the game in terms of how to play around each other. I think that was the reason we put all of us in at the same time this weekend.
Licorice said that after he found out the transfer offer to Golden Guardians was a possibility, he and FlyQuest made the decision after some internal scrims. Was FLY Academy winning an overwhelming amount of those scrims?
No, it's not like we were turboing them or anything. We just bring things that are different than the LCS team. Different players bring different things to a team and you don't realize them until you get to play with them, so getting a new perspective and being able to tell your other teammates things like, 'Oh I like playing with this guy because he did this thing well.' And then everyone can improve together.
I think that's why the internal scrims went how they went. It's not like we were just always beating them every time we played against them internal scrims. I'd be lying if I said we didn't have a winning record. We did, so it makes sense, but it wasn't overwhelming to the point where it was set in stone that we were the better players.
What does the now-promoted Academy squad bring in terms of synergy that the previous main roster simply failed to develop?
I think players like Nxi are new to the scene and they don't have a set way they want to play. They don't have any ego coming in because they are new players. When you build someone from the ground up like this with your ideas in terms of how you want to play, it's much easier than bringing a veteran into the team. We can build him up the way we want to play.
It's much easier to put people on the same page when there is no ego or previous competitive experience. That's one of the ways players become pretty good together. Everyone believes in the philosophy of the way we play, which is that we trust each other even if it's not a good call. Even if it's a bad call, someone will call something off and bring up something better.
We're all on the same page of how we improve and the direction in which we do so, so I think that's why this team is doing really well. Everyone is willing to take the blame and when someone is doing something badly in the game, we don't just point a finger at him, we try to see how we could have helped him out in the game. Our reviews are really good and they are improving.
Kumo has played in both the LCS and the LCS Academy League this week. Has that affected how the team has practiced or how he's played?
It's definitely hard, props to Kumo for doing that. I think I did something similar at the start of this year on FlyQuest, but there were fewer Academy matches then because the format was just one game. When I did that, I would play scrims once, and then again later in the day. *laughs* It was very taxing.
Obviously, we've lost some scrims from it, but it is what it is. We have a new top laner for FlyQuest Academy now named Philip, but I don't think it would have been fair to him to play this week's matches with no experience against the top 2 teams in Academy. That would have been bad for him, so that's why we opted into having Kumo play for both teams instead.
He's gone 6-0 so far with one game left to go for you guys tomorrow, but it's good that there's a long-term solution in place.
Yeah, it's definitely not reliable. *laughs*
Because you played in the LCS for the majority of the Spring Split, do you feel like it was easier for you to become re-acclimated to this level of competition?
I've played in Academy so long that I kind of have the winning recipe for Academy in my head. I've been here quite a while and I"ve played with really incredible players. When I play in Academy, my job is to use my perspective to bring everyone to the same idea and understand the game better. I'm just trying to help everyone around me.
I joke about it a lot, but my job is to be a raid leader. I just give +1 to all of my teammates and just try to make them better, and it helps me as a player because I really have to be on top of my stuff and really know what's happening. If I'm out of form, everyone will suffer because of it. In my first LCS split, I toned that down and was trying to respect everyone around me and just follow. I don't think that's me as a player. I think I'm more of a leader who tries to make everyone around me better.
When I played in LCS, I lost a lot of confidence when we were not playing well and it affected my play. I play off of confidence a lot, so that's why I think I had a really bad first split. *laughs* I lost all my confidence. When I played in Academy again, I tried to make the most of what I could do to help my teammates around me.
I think that going down to Academy and now back up to LCS was actually very helpful for me because it made me put all of my experience in perspective and already hone what I was already really good at but had left behind.
Honestly, I don't know if it's like that for everyone. It depends on who you are as a person. If you're a more quiet player who just focuses on individual mechanics, it's obviously going to be a lot easier to play in the Academy League because people aren't as good at laning and they aren't as good at pushing advantages.
They don't make their whole team play around them well, so if you're a player like Zven, playing in Academy is really easy. He just has to pull everyone around him and he will carry the game.
For my role, it's very different. I'm a support player, so I need to be smart...*laughs* smarter than the person I'm playing against. Also, I babysit. That's how I see support. When you see someone doing something stupid, you're just like, 'Don't do that. Just come here instead.' That's kind of my job. I think you can get away with a lot more in Academy, but I don't think that's the reason I was initially struggling in the LCS.
In regaining your confidence, were there things you were able to learn from spring in hindsight?
Yeah, there was a lot. The first time I played against CoreJJ, I got absolutely destroyed. I was like, 'Oh my god, this guy is so much better than me.' I thought I was good enough, but when I played against CoreJJ I was like, 'Holy **** I am actually so bad.' *laughs*
That's when I realized I needed to put more work in, drop the ego, and be more like CoreJJ. Since that first game against him, I've watched every single CoreJJ vod. I've watched all of his LCS Pro Views, and also talk to supports from the LEC and other regions.
I think dropping your ego is a really big part of accepting that you're not that good and that you need to get better. That's how my philosophy has been since I had such a bad split. *laughs* I feel like I should learn from it instead of just thinking I'm better than others. That's just such a dumb way of looking at it. I think it was really good for me to go back to Academy, get some confidence back, and then go back up to LCS.
To be fair, I think CoreJJ has had that effect on a lot of new players.
Yeah, that's how it goes, but if that's the benchmark to being as excellent of a player as he is, that's the standard that you have to hold yourself to.
Is the Academy League as a whole stronger than initially thought, or do you think your team's synergy specifically has caused a smooth transition to LCS competition?
I don't think that a lot of the Academy teams are better than low-tier LCS teams. I think there are some pieces that are good, but I think our team has a lot of people who see the game the same way. I've played with Kumo before on a roster that was arguably the best Academy team ever produced on Cloud9 Academy with Blaber. We had a really similar way of looking at things where Kumo and I are the two who lead the game for the team.
Other players like Nxi, who is kind of new, don't impact the way we play as much. He still has his share, and Triple has his share, too, but mostly, it's Kumo and I who are trying to move the game forward and find solutions. Everyone chimes in here and there, but it's mostly the two of us. We know each other's weaknesses and we try to cover them.
If Kumo is ahead, he will take most of the burden and have a back and forth with me where we will drive the whole game and ask everyone to do what they need to do for Kumo to carry the game. Kumo will talk to me, then I'll make sure mid is in check, jungle is in check, and the AD carry is doing what he needs to do. Then the AD carry will say what he needs to do if it's something else — it's just a back and forth where everyone chimes in on what we have to do. On our team, we call it 'Opera'.
The way our players shine together is to have the game centered around our top side or top laner. Your top laner is usually the one who will help you after you help him push. He will get vision and drive the game in a way where everyone can play well. I think that if your top laner is very vocal, it makes the game super easy.
I've been really lucky in my career to have played with Fudge, Licorice and Kumo. I think Licorice talks a bit less, but he's also very talented at playing the lane, so that was one of his drawbacks and also one of his upsides. Kumo is really good at giving information around his lane, and Fudge is incredible at making something reliable in the game.
Every game on C9 Academy, we would almost always dive top at level 3 and because we did that, the games were really simple. We would always be ahead top lane and from there, we could just move down from top and the game was so easy. I think if you have one 'x factor' or one player who is very reliable on your team, it makes the whole environment much better. Our team looks better because we always have a plan and we always have something we want to do in the early game.
Is there anything you want to say to the FlyQuest fans after what has been a triumphant start to your LCS return?
Thanks for supporting us. I know I had a pretty rough Spring Split, but I honestly felt I was kind of scapegoated. I think I had a bad split, but everyone was putting it on me *laughs* just like everyone was putting it on Licorice this split. That was pretty messed up, honestly. Let's support the boys when they're down, not kick them! *laughs* It is what it is.
I had to earn the confidence back and I'm happy that everyone still supported me even though I was kind of inting in my first split. Sometimes, you have to int a little bit so you can come back stronger, so thanks to everyone for supporting me.
Honestly, I was going to be happy with one win this weekend, but now that we're 2-0, might as well go for the 3-0 now.
Source: Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT