Omran "V1per" Shoura will be making his LCS debut in three short weeks. The new FlyQuest Top Laner spent the past year cultivating a well-balanced competitive playstyle on Team Liquid Academy after rising to fame as the best Riven on the NA Solo Queue ladder.
V1per possesses immense individual talent, and his time in the Academy League has successfully launched him into the LCS. I sat down with the rookie Top Laner to talk about his road to the big leagues, the NA Academy League, and his new home in FlyQuest.
Viper, congratulations on joining FlyQuest for the 2019 Season. How has the new year treated you thus far?
Thank you, the new year has been good. I've been playing a lot of Solo Queue and trying to get the grind started before the season. I'm really excited to play in the LCS and show what I've got.
Before you started your professional career with Team Liquid Academy, you entered the scene as a popular streamer. Was that your first venture into the gaming industry as a career?
I actually didn't expect myself to play professionally at all. I've been streaming full time for about three years, and one day it just clicked to me that it wasn't what I wanted to do. I wasn't enjoying it and I wanted to try something else. Whenever I streamed, I used to only play Riven, and I wanted to see how good I was outside of Riven.
I was streaming full time under Team Liquid, so I asked Steve if I could explore options because I didn't want to stream anymore. I wanted to join a team and get into the competitive scene, and he offered me a spot on Team Liquid Academy right away.
My goal was to play competitively for a year, and if I'm really bad, I'll just go back to streaming and playing Riven. If I see myself play well enough for the next step in my competitive career, then I'll keep going. My goal was to make LCS in one year, and I've achieved that.
Did you always have professional play as something in the back of your head, even when you started streaming? Or was it more spontaneous than that?
Every game I've played, I've wanted to be good, so I just watched a lot of streams and replays to learn from others. It doesn't feel right for me to not be good at a game that I'm playing, and League of Legends was one of those games. I didn't really expect anything from it, I just wanted to be good at it. It's nice to be at the top of a game and play against pros, streamers...it's nice to know where you stand.
What was your family's reaction to your pursuit of a career in esports as a pro gamer?
My family has always been supportive of my decisions. They prefer me doing streaming of course, because then I can stream at home and be there all the time. Regardless, they're still supportive no matter what I want to do. They're fine with it as long as I have a plan and know what I'm doing.
What about your friends? Do they have any questions about your career?
There's always different things people want to know. It's really hard to explain to people that don't play games at all what a professional gamer is. Every time I tried to explain what I do to my friends, it just didn't click for them. It didn't make sense to people that I was getting paid to play a video game and be good at it.
That was before, though. Now, they fully understand it and are watching it more because I helped introduce them to competitive gaming.
As a professional player, what do you think you improved upon the most as the Top Laner for Team Liquid Academy?
I'm really glad that TLA was the first team I played for in my competitive career. Liquid is such a good organization, and Steve is amazing. He has always helped me out whenever I needed him.
When I joined Team Liquid Academy, I was just a solo queue player. I didn't know much about competitive play. I watched LCS here and there but I never frequently kept up with it or viewed it through a competitive lens. I just watched because it was fun.
Once I got more understanding of the fundamentals and picked up on the basics of competitive play, it got much easier for me to play the game.
What about FlyQuest seemed to be the right fit for the next step of your career?
When Team Liquid qualified for the 2018 World Championship, I went with the main squad as the substitute on the roster. I didn't get the chance to play when I was there, but everything that I saw there motivated me to want to play LCS and get to Worlds. I watched TL scrim and play their games, and it really felt like I could be there.
I don't want to be a spectator at Worlds next year, and I'm going to push myself and do all that I can to get there.
That's awesome that you still got the experience, though. Did you play a lot of Korean Solo Queue?
Yeah, I played so much solo queue, but it's not the same, you know? I really want to play on that stage.
Did you run into anyone in Solo Queue that was impressive or stood out amongst the rest, in your perspective?
TheShy and Khan are both really fun to lane against. They're very impressive players and extremely mechanically talented.
Are there any Top Laners in the LCS that you're looking forward to playing against in spring?
I'm most excited to play against Impact. Impact has taught me so much when I was on Team Liquid, and I just want to play against him now and see how I do. He's the player I respect most in the LCS.
That will definitely be an exciting matchup to watch this spring. Internationally, who is your Top Lane "Final Boss" if you were to qualify for Worlds or a similar event?
Right now, it's looking like Sword and TheShy are the two top laners I want to play competitively against more than anyone else.
Sword has a teammate who shares a namesake with you. If FlyQuest ever played against Griffin, would you make Wildturtle go in the Top Lane so you could go for a Viper vs. Viper bot lane? Maybe some Yasuo vs. Riven?
*Laughs* Maybe we can make a deal and whoever wins gets the name.
In all seriousness, you're making your LCS debut in less than a month's time and that's a huge step in a LoL player's career. What kind of first impression are you trying to make in your debut?
I'm more of a carry style Top Laner, so I hope I get to show that and not disappoint. I'm very confident in my ability to be the best Top Laner in North America.
Thanks for the interview, Viper. Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans as you embark on the next step of your journey?
Thanks to all of my fans who watch my streams, especially the Riven mains. They're always there and supporting me. I always check the Riven subreddit and everyone is always leaving nice comments for me about transferring from streaming to playing competitively. They have been really supportive of me, so special shout out to them.