FlyQuest was projected as a bottom three team in the 2019 LCS Spring Split, but currently sit in a playoff spot at 5-3 after four weeks of play. Rookie Top Laner Omran "V1per" Shoura has had no issue slotting in place of Lee “Flame” Ho-jong. V1per has built synergy with star jungler Lucas "Santorin" Larsen, and has performed across a multitude of picks. However, FlyQuest's matches against 100 Thieves and Clutch Gaming set the stage for the most important games of V1per's LCS career.
Facing off against a first-pick Sylas for Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho, V1per locked in his signature champion, Riven. The Exile had been banned away from V1per several times last summer on Team Liquid Academy, and he had picked up a few wins on it when it was left open. However, playing such an individually-minded champion on the LCS stage against one of the best Top Laners in North America is an entirely different challenge.
V1per rose to the occasion, being a primary factor in FlyQuest's eventual triumph over 100 Thieves. It was perhaps this confidence that led to a secondary Riven pick during the weekend. Caught off guard by Clutch Gaming's drafting of Sion for Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon, V1per defaulted to comfort despite suboptimal conditions for a Riven pick in competitive play.
It was in this game that V1per was able to show his true mastery of his Riven, helping his team to victory despite not being in the best situation to succeed. V1per joined Inven Global following FlyQuest's 2-0 week to discuss his signature Riven pick, his new teammates, and FlyQuest's trust-building environment.
I'm joined by V1per after another 2-0 weekend for FlyQuest. However, with two Riven victories against two of the best top laners in the region, this has to be extra special for you. Can you give us some background on your history with Riven as a champion and its significance in your career?
I've been playing Riven for about five years now. I probably have over 20,000 games on Riven; I play the champion way too much and I've been playing it for a long time. I have a fanbase specifically for my Riven who only want to see me play Riven all of the time, so it motivates me to be the best at the champion that I can be. I'm really confident in pulling out Riven whenever the situation looks good for the pick.
You played Riven last summer on Team Liquid Academy and also drew several bans on it, but you went up against Ssumday and Huni this weekend. Can you talk about the conditions that make Riven viable competitively from your perspective?
In yesterday's game, Riven looked insanely good. Riven looks perfect if the enemy doesn't have anyone who can escape. 100 Thieves drafted Ashe, Tahm Kench, and Jarvan, which are all champions that Riven can outplay. Whenever I see a situation where the enemy champions don't have reliable CC, I can go ahead and pick Riven.
Riven is a rarity in competitive play, especially in North America. Were your teammates open to the idea?
Here's the thing: my team trusts me when I want to play Riven in a match. In yesterday's game, it was quiet near the end of the draft, and I said, 'Yo guys, I'm 5th pick here, and you know it's open.' and everyone agreed that Riven looked really good in the draft against 100 Thieves. Sometimes I will meme and say Riven looks good in the draft even when it doesn't, but this time, I was serious.
In today's game, however, Riven looked awful. No one should go Riven in the situation I did, in my opinion. We got lost in our draft.
It did feel like a less ideal situation than your last match.
Clutch Gaming had Ezreal, Braum with Exhaust, LeBlanc, Sion — they had all of these champions that wouldn't let me move in team fights. I can't do anything but split-push against a Sion on Riven.
We got lost in draft because we didn't think Huni would pick Sion because he always plays carries and that's not his style. I got confused, and for the first time, I didn't know what to pick. So I said, "you know what, just give me Riven." It shouldn't have worked out, but we snowballed early and were able to eventually close out the game.
At the end of the game, you used your ultimate and went straight for the nexus. Is ending the game hard when your team composition doesn't have reliable primary engage?
No matter how far ahead of the opponent you are, it is very difficult to play compositions where you have no engage. It's really hard to do anything as a whole team, so our win condition was to have me split-push all the time, but I didn't do that too well this game.
When I had one item early on, we tried to group, but Riven can't group against their composition before three items. After that, we had me split until I got Guardian Angel to survive, as well as any other items I needed. Then, we could wait for them to engage and run them over in fights with whatever we had left. After the initial engage, we would wait for a Lee Sin kick or a Thresh hook and go in.
However, we made a mistake this game by grouping too early, because I couldn't do anything in fights when I only had one item.
Has FlyQuest practiced with Riven in scrims frequently?
We've played Riven once or twice in scrims, but we don't really practice it as a team. I did not expect to play Riven in LCS at all, let alone both games this weekend. However, when it looks good, I will pick it...or also, when I'm confused, I guess. *laughs*
It's always good to default to comfort when you are unsure of what to do, but still, given the circumstances, your teammates put a lot of trust in you. Did you feel that you had something to prove on your signature champion?
When I pick Riven, I want people to see that I'm confident playing it at any time. Today showed that I can pull out Riven in a suboptimal situation. Sion is a free matchup for just about anyone in lane, but it was not an ideal time to play Riven into their composition.
FlyQuest has been perennially underrated, and has defied bottom three expectations in the LCS. Did you expect your career in the LCS to start off in this fashion?
I think our team is really good. I'm really confident in my team and my teammates indiivudally. When I initially joined, I thought it was going to be up to me to prove that I could take Flame's spot on an indivudal level because of how good he is. It's surprising to me that FlyQuest is always rated so low in power rankings every single time. I guess it's hard to believe to put us at the top, since replacing Flame with an Academy level player. It's hard to believe the team is going to do well because it looks really bad on paper.
I played better than most of top laners at the academy level, don't think I played well enough on Team Liquid Academy, especially when it came to playoffs in summer. That's probably why people put us near the bottom of power rankings.
It's not always easy for rookies to transition to the LCS stage. How have you been getting used to stage play?
It's been pretty nervewracking to play with three veterans, but I'm really glad I've gotten to play with these players. I'm really glad Santorin is the first jungler I've played with in the LCS. He's an amazing player and I'm very lucky to play with him. No bias: he's one of the best junglers in North America. People have always underestimated him and put him at the bottom, but after you play with him, you'll know what's happening around you. I think I"m pretty lucky to play on a team with him.
At first, I was pretty nervous in scrims because I was playing against all these imports and big names, but once Santorin and I built synergy, everyone started trusting each other more frequently. It got a lot of easier to play the game, and I got a lot more confident and felt that I could trust my team, and vice-versa.
When I was on Team Liquid Academy, I played from home, so playing on stage is very different. I want to play with the way I play in scrims to be the same as how I play on stage, which is very difficult to do. A lot of players struggle to do so, but I want to get to the point where I can do that.
It's definitely a good goal to work towards, especially this early in your career. As someone who rated FlyQuest low, I was not impressed by the on-paper roster relative to the competition. What is it about FlyQuest's five individuals that create more than the sum of its parts?
I think a lot of it comes from not losing trust in your teammates. It sounds stupid and cliche, but people lose trust in their teammates pretty often. You lose scrims and people are like, 'Wow, we actually suck.' It's important to keep things positive. No matter how bad my teammates run it down in scrims, or even in a game on stage, I know they can still the best.
That's how everyone feels about everyhone else on Flyquest, and as long as you have that mindest, your team will keep improving more and more and show up big on stage.
You guys have been shownig up big so far, congratulations on a strong start to the 2019 LCS Spring Split. Is there anything you'd like to say to the FlyQuest fans?
Thank you to all of the new fans who have been cheering for FlyQuest, as well as all of my fans who have joined up. Special shout out to the Riven fans since I have more than ever now. All the Riven mains are proud of my performance it seems, so shout out to them.
LCS viewership for Riven mains is about to be at an all-time high.