FlyQuest support Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black is one of the longest-tenured players left in the LCS. In a league that’s seen a lot of its old guard, such as his former lane partner, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, walk away from the game, there’s something to be said about aphromoo’s ability to continue playing at the top level.
From his initial success on Counter Logic Gaming, as well as his time as one of the pillars of establishing 100 Thieves’ in the LCS, to his joining of Dignitas and now FlyQuest, aphromoo has been through it all. And not only that, he’s helped various players along the way. One of these players is FlyQuest’s current ADC, Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen. An ADC he’s teamed with in the past on Dignitas now gets to be reunited with him once again.
“Having my contract expire, Johnsun hit me up,” aphromoo told Inven Global. "It was pretty cool playing with Johnsun. I enjoyed playing with him in 2020 on Dignitas, and then you know he moved to FlyQuest, but he's got a lot of talent. I think we got something special going on here. Just got to keep moving forward; get some games under our belt.”
There’s no denying that Johnsun has benefitted from aphromoo’s presence —the one season Johnsun played without the veteran support, he struggled to maintain a starting spot and spent plenty of 2021 looking like the weakest AD carry in the LCS.
That didn’t stop aphromoo from joining FlyQuest, however, and the veteran support attributes his ability to work well with Johnsun to the straightforwardness of their feedback, similarity in playstyle, and the sharpshooter’s off-the-wall sense of humor. “One of the things I like about him is that he's really funny. He's always making memes and jokes — not the standard memes, just ridiculous funny stuff,” said aphromoo, stifling a laugh.
“I think that goes a long way in playing with one another. I think one of our strengths is that we will tell each other whatever we need to hear to improve, then we get it the first time," FlyQuest's support continued. "We don't have to keep reiterating over and over, and both of us are that same kind of player.
That definitely helps a lot in the bottom lane, as well as the complimentary nature of our styles. He's always super crisp and wants to punish enemy mistakes. He's always on top of macro and getting a good matchup in draft and stuff like that. Johnsun being very vocal is very enjoyable, and he's got a lot of talent.”
In a sense, aphromoo has become a veteran for hire, on top of his still top-of-the-line skills as a support. He has managed to go from team to team, sprinkling in some success and leadership to new up and coming players along the way thanks to his leadership, something that he views to come naturally to him.
“I'll be 30 this year, and I think as I continue to age I become more disciplined and observant,” aphromoo said. “I listen better than when I was younger, which just comes with maturing. Whenever I'm on a team as the veteran, it's important to be able to have every player that I'm with feel like they're being heard by me. I'm very good at being the facilitator and the mediator in making sure we are progressing on the right track. I feel like that just comes with age.”
FlyQuest was extremely transparent in their desire to sign aphromoo, stating in the announcement video that they were looking for a veteran to lead their team through the unification of their younger talent. That doesn’t mean aphromoo gets a free pass on his own level of play, though. Fortunately, for the support position, aphromoo’s role within the team and the proficiency of his individual play often go hand-in-hand.
“I think support play definitely shines when your team is all on the same page,” said aphromoo. “When you're all on the same macro, you get set up so you’re able to go for a play that you really wouldn't be able to go for if you aren't on the same page. The #1 focus for supports is making sure everyone follows the game plan.”
FLY have exceeded expectations early on in the season, and the team’s current roster have already shown more synergy than the revolving door 2021 roster ever did.
While it took FlyQuest some time to find their style in the current meta, aphromoo attributes the team’s strong start in the Spring Split to benefits in communication due to the team’s focus on the flavor of the month strategy of playing enchanters in the top lane with Smite as opposed to a standard top lane.
“The smite top actually helped a lot for communication because when you have five members moving across the map because your top laner isn't laning, it's very important to have direct communication between each member of the team,” aphromoo explained.
“There's a lot more focus on that than playing the game out in a standard way. All of that talking I think has definitely helped us improve a lot, both within that strategy and also our standard play. It feels good being able to pull it out at any time so teams have to worry about it.”
Aphromoo has been in the pro scene for over 10 years — a rarity in all of LoL Esports, not just the LCS. The motivation to keep going is not something that comes often, but in aphromoo’s case, that motivation is not always about him, it’s about the people around him.
"I think it’s the people, so long as I'm around people who love playing the game, put in a lot of work and effort and stuff like that just makes it fun, especially when it gets in a competition setting where you're going to shit on people. And I love doing that.”
At nearly thirty years old, aphromoo is the oldest player in the LCS. However, if he continues to age like fine wine, expect to see the veteran support in the league for years to come.