Drafts are important. That’s why the players and coaches take so much time analyzing the drafts and picking or banning good champions for the benefit of the team.
FlyQuest is doing significantly better than the last split. There had been changes to the team; players joined and left, Saintvicious joined as a strategic coach. They’re currently on a 4-4 record, taking down Team Liquid.
After the match against Team Liquid, Santorin shared his thoughts on Doublelift’s Vladimir, his love for aggressive champions, and having good drafts.
What are your thoughts on Doublelift’s Vladimir?
I think that Doublelift’s a great AD carry, and I don’t like when they draft him to be on an AP carry. You should draft your strengths, and I think Doublelift’s such a great AD carry that he should still play the AD carry champions even though it’s not as meta. So I don’t like it too much, because I don’t think he’s a great Vladimir player compared to how his AD carry is, so I wouldn’t do that.
FlyQuest as a team has gone through a lot of changes throughout Spring Split all the way to the Summer Split. How do you feel about the whole lineup changes and games going well?
I’m really happy we’re starting to win now. I think after the second week, I had a lot of talk with Saint. He said things like you’re not playing this, well you’re doing better playing this, this is what you have to improve on, so he kind of got me on track again, and made sure I stayed focused on the things that I am bad at. I think he helped me a lot personally, and as a whole, we’re good at giving each other feedback. Although we don’t have a win streak because we lost yesterday (Saturday), I think he just makes us keep improving, and he makes us motivated, so I keep learning.
As you said, Saint has helped you out in the draft and helped you out personally as well. Can you go more in depth about how Saint has changed the whole dynamic of FlyQuest?
Saint was a really good player back in the days when he was a professional player, and I think he has a good understanding on what you need in the next team comp. He also recognizes our strengths and weaknesses well. I think he has a really good understanding on how to put a bandage on things that we are doing badly.
Right now, that’s helping us a lot, but in reality, if we make it to playoffs, everyone has to be able to do each role. So that’s what we’re trying to improve on.
Do you have any funny moments with Saint that you can share with us?
Well, I don’t have a specific story; I think it was funny when I played against him, back when I was in Coast, and he was on... I don’t even remember what team he was on (Laughs). It’s always fun to play against your coach, and he’s actually my coach now.
I could see what he’s really good at; he was really good at macro and had a good understanding of matchups and what to do to hold the team up. This essentially translates to his coaching now. He understands what has happened in the map, that’s why he’s really good at helping us with the draft, and how to play in the game.
Were there any throwbacks like, “Hey, do you remember when I beat you in lane?” or “I smashed you here.”, or something like that?
We don’t talk about it too much because it’s so long in the past. We mainly talk about Keane’s Hecarim and stuff like that. We were like “Oh no, it is Keane’s Hecarim. I don’t want to play against that again.” (laughs).
Throughout your career, you’ve been famous for playing aggressive champions, especially like Lee Sin and Kha’Zix. In today’s game, you played fantastically on Gragas. Would you say aggressive champions are still your favorite, or would you say you’re more open now?
Back in TSM, I came straight out of challenger series, and I always played aggressive champions in solo queue. I didn’t have much experience, and I didn’t have much understanding of how to engage and stuff, so every time they picked me Gragas, I looked awful. I hardly knew what to do on the map, or how to engage.
So ever since I left TSM, or we parted ways, I just have been focusing on getting better at what I’m bad at. I was bad at engaging, so I was playing a lot of Gragas or Sejuani. Now, I still very highly prefer aggressive champions. I like carrying and being ahead, but I’m really comfortable playing engages now.
So if you had to pick a few aggressive champions that are playable right now, what would they be?
I love Kha’Zix; I don’t think Lee Sin is viable but I love him, Nidalee is one of my favorites as well. I know how aggressive Nocturne is, but I think he’s fun to play because you can duo people early and ult people. And then, I love Kindred as well. I think she’s pretty good in this meta, but you build a team comp around her. Hence, it is not easy to pick.
Do you think Gragas has appeared in the meta as a Kindred counter pick or do you think he can be picked independently?
I think Gragas is really strong right now. They buffed his W, so it has a very little cooldown which makes his clear a lot faster, and now with Runic Echoes, playing against any matchup, he does too much overall damage. He also has very good ganks. The W buff brought him back; even before the W buff, you can probably still play him. Every time there is a buff in the patch notes, everyone starts playing that champion. So yeah, I think Gragas is good in every other matchup as well.
About Meteos as well, he’s now at FlyQuest Academy. Have you hung out with Meteos at all, or spoke with him?
Yeah, sometimes we talked about matchups; for example, he was a bit ahead of me regarding Kindred. He would just be like “Dude, you can just pick it and play her.”. I know she’s strong, but I’m a bit scared of blind picking her. Meteos told me there are no bad matchups as long as you draft properly. He’s definitely ahead there, and sometimes I’m ahead, so we give each other feedback which is very nice. It is something I have never had before. It’s nice that we can learn from each other.
What would you say are Meteos’ strengths compared to you and your strengths compared to Meteos?
I think Meteos is really good at pathing; he has a really good understanding on where he needs to be on the map. He’s good at calling what he wants to do, and on what the team should be doing. He’s a little bit better than me at that; I think he’s better than me at telling people what to do. I’m not that good at that, I’m trying to learn and improve on that; I think I’m getting better.
I’m probably mechanically better, and I like playing the more aggressive style while he likes the more tanky and calculated styles.
Due to the meta, the champions like Heimerdinger and Pyke are rising. All the pro players are debating on how many games you need to put into solo queue to be able to be stage-ready; how many games do you think is needed to put into a champion?
It depends from player to player; like JayJ and Wildturtle, they actually used to play mid lane a long, long time ago. They like playing AP carry. So when you’re like “Yo, Swain is good and Heimerdinger is good.”, Wildturtle would start playing it. The next week, they’re already ready to play them.
But then, you have players like Rekkles or Doublelift, who always played AD carry. They have never really branched out from their champions. I think they need maybe thirty to forty games in solo queue to really understand the champion and know how to play with it.
Someone like Levi, even if the meta changes, he plays any champions. He’s easily adapted. I’ve actually been queueing him a lot jungle/fill. When Taliyah became good, I realized I never played Taliyah in my life (laughs). Now, I’m trying to be more up to date with that kind of stuff.
FlyQuest is doing amazing this split. How far do you think FlyQuest can go?
The funny thing is that before the split started, we just wanted to make playoffs and see how we can go. I can’t tell if NA is better right now. When I watch every single game in the NA, the team that has a better draft loses. For example, the game against C9. We should have smashed them pretty hard. We failed to do that. When I was watching the game against Liquid, it was close too. Whereas, if you watch LCK right now, the team with the better draft always wins.
We’ll see how well NA adapts and how we adapt to the future metas. If we were to play playoffs right now, we'd be really good.
What do you think in your personal opinion, NA is not as good as other regions when it comes to executing those perfectly planned out drafts. As you said, in the LCK, better draft wins.
I think that’s a funny thing because when the top teams in NA play against lower tier teams, I think the lower tier teams almost always win the draft. When top teams play against the bottom teams, we’re kind of a bottom team too, we have way better drafts, but we’re just bad at macro, and we don’t know how to snowball. But if the top tier teams like TSM or TL have the better drafts, they just take the entire game. They have better drafts, better macro, and better players. So I think, for now, we just have way better drafts. I still think we’re a good team, but there’s a lot for us to improve on; we’re just not showing our weaknesses much because we have good drafts.
Do you have any last comments to your fans?
It has been a really bumpy ride for me. I’ve been in a lot of Challenger teams. I have been losing almost every relegations, got kicked off H2K. Now I’m in FlyQuest; I’m really grateful that the fans kept supporting me throughout this really hard time. Hopefully, now I can give them back now by actually winning games.