FlyQuest have confirmed the signing of young NA talent, James “Duoking” Stephenson, to their Academy roster. He will be supporting FlyQuest’s Academy AD from the 2018 season, Erry, who has re-signed with the team. Duoking is known for his ranged mage supports, even in metas that favor melee, engage supports, but has proven his ability to be versatile as well. He has been playing League since back before Season 1, but more recently started playing in more competitive environments.
Duoking attended his first Scouting Grounds this year and played on Team Infernal, placing 1st in the double round robin, but falling to Team Mountain in the finals. Similarly, he made it to the finals in this years TCS put on by Tyler1, but failed to bring home the prize. However, he claims signing with FlyQuest will bring a stop to his second-place finishes and plans to take his team all the way to 1st place this Spring.
FlyQuest Academy’s Head Coach, Gabe “Invert” Zoltan-Johan, is already particularly impressed by Duoking, stating “I've had my eye on James for a while, as someone who's mechanically talented and someone who can be a top NA support if he gets the professional experience. Working with him in Scouting Grounds for the week helped me realize that his ability to work with others in person and be self-reflective of his own weaknesses made him a valuable prospect to work with and help grow. All of that coupled with his expressed passion made James a clear favorite for our open support position, and the first name on the list for the next great domestic support.
Going into Scouting Grounds, what was your goal for that event and the next steps in your career?
I just wanted to prove that I can work well in a team environment. The two major questions I think that people have for me as a player are: “Can I work well with in a team environment?” and “Can I play the champions that are required of a professional player?” So going to Scouting Grounds I just wanted to prove those two things, because I think if I’m able to do that, I’m a good candidate for upcoming NA support talent.
So do you feel like you proved both of those pretty well? What was your feeling as the event was coming to a close?
*laughs* I think working in a team environment… I thought I did well in that regard, but… Champion pool wise, no not really. *laughs* I mean, I showed that I could pick them, I just didn’t want to. But, I think now I’m a lot more willing to play whatever champ is required of me to play.
That’s good to hear! You also exhibited creativity that’s nice to showcase as well. So what was it about FlyQuest then; what was attractive about them as an organization that made you decide to sign on?
It was mostly the fact that they reached out to me before the event even happened, and only one other team even did that. And so, just the fact that they believed in me before I went to the event… And also the fact that I intentionally fed at Scouting Grounds in the Finals, I mean not really, but they still offered me a spot. I was like, “Wow, I clearly can’t let them down now,” because I performed so bad in the finals. Clearly, they saw something, so I really want to perform in Academy.
How do you feel like you’ll pair up with Erry in the bot lane? What all do you know about him and what makes you excited to be with him?
Honestly, I don’t really mind who I lane with. However he wants to play lanes, whatever his playstyle is, I’ll just go with it, I don’t really care. I’m really open to anything so I’m looking forward to it, but I don’t know why. I don’t have a reason, I’m just looking forward to it.
Do you feel like you learned anything at Scouting Grounds through working with Tactical that you wouldn’t have gotten from working with someone else?
Not really. I’m focused mostly on my own play, so it’s hard for me to notice unless my ADC is turbo-inting. I don’t really notice if they’re making mistakes, and he was a good player. So I didn’t learn anything from laning with him specifically.
Academy is known as a place to develop young NA talent. So what are you hoping to gain from being there this season?
I’m just hoping to improve on skills you can only really develop in competitive, because some of the recent competitive play I’ve experienced, it’s been really clear to me that my solo queue knowledge just doesn’t actually translate very much at all. So I’m not really going into Academy with an ego because I think I’m a good player. You know? I’m really ready to learn what competitive play is like.
Do you have a career goal then? What’s the peak? And then what’s your timeline for reaching that?
I want to win Worlds honestly, within two years. I’m NA talent, for sure. I will save the region. I really will.
Well, you heard it here first, I’ll be bookmarking this and checking back. !remindme 2 years.
Yeah! No seriously, Selfie and I will win Worlds, honestly.
What is it that makes you so excited about Selfie then to call him out?
*laughs* Umm, I don’t know. I don’t actually watch him play that much, but I think he maybe hasn’t had as much opportunity to show how good of a player he is, similar to me. So yeah, we are both going to smurf in Academy.
Awesome. Well, in the Scouting Grounds tournament, you went by the name Duoking, but that hasn’t always been your tag. Before, you went by something else, but since then you’ve kind of gone through some form of reformation. Why did you decide to change your disposition and brand?
I just thought I had a potential to play professionally and I realized I needed to stop trolling and act like a human being. And so, the name change is because there is a negative perception behind my former name. If you search it in google, it’s only toxic results. I just want to put that behind me.
Do you feel like you changed your whole mindset and approach to the game as well, or was it mostly just trying to calm down? Did you become more focused and determined?
Not initially. When Scouting Grounds was announced, that’s when I changed. Since you had to play 4 champs to make it, I started to practice other champs in solo queue. That was the main thing.
Speaking of reform, you just played in the TCS, do you want to talk about that experience?
It was definitely an amusing experience, that’s for sure. Overall, we just got outplayed in the games when it came down to it. There is some stuff behind the scenes that I find amusing. Honestly not salty about it. It was overall a positive experience for me.
Was it just a further example of you needing development in competitive space outside of solo queue? Do you feel like you learned anything else specifically there about competitive play?
Yeah, I have some regrets about the champions I picked. I think I was kind of insecure about what I should pick. And I think I probably should’ve picked some more hard engage champs and just call the engages. But it’s all mostly hindsight stuff.
One other thing about competitive play that is often linked to the support role is their ability to track information and always be communicating next steps and windows of time, etc. You of course were on a team with a few loud and able communicators in Scouting Grounds, and didn’t really have to do much on that end. How do you feel about that piece in your role as support and your ability to do that?
I think it’s a skill I’ll definitely be able to learn and improve on. Usually I am on teams with people who do take the main shotcalling role a lot. I’m usually on teams with others who are the primary voice on the team, and it’s not me. But if it’s required of me, I think I’ll be able to fulfill that role easily.
Other than moving to LA, any other final plans before you get down here?
Nope, the final plan was winning the TCS, and that did not go as planned. *laughs*
Anything else you’d like to shout out or mention now that you’re joining up with FlyQuest?
I’m just looking forward to winning Spring Split Academy, because I have failed at Scouting Grounds and TCS. I’m really trying to win something soon. I'm really excited and thankful to be joining FlyQuest. I'm glad they reached out and showed interest in me. I am looking forward to playing in Academy next month, and I'm ready to start taking those first steps to saving North America as a region with the team.