After a long break from the regular season, FlyQuest took to the stage for the 2019 LCS Regional Finals this past weekend in hopes to qualifying to Worlds. Despite a poor Summer Split, FLY worked hard to level up enough to make it to the big international tournament taking place in Europe next month. Though they failed to qualify in the long run, Gabriel "Invert" Zoltan-Johan speaks about what his team was able to accomplish in the five week break, saying it’s when they finally became a team.
Invert also broke down his learning experience over the course of the season and how the team came to choose Wadid as their starting support this summer, as well as an exciting role he hopes to fill for NA this upcoming Worlds tournament.
You’re the head coach for Flyquest but that happened very suddenly and unexpectedly right before Spring. FLY had a great first split, but a tough summer. Break down what it’s been like trying to manage the new position, especially in regards to not meeting expectations - from both overperforming in the Spring and underperforming in the Summer.
The year has been really one of substantial growth for me in particular. I was put into an environment where the only person with less experience than me was Omran "V1per" Shoura. So, obviously as a coach, working with people as experienced as Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen, Jason “Wildturtle” Tran, Eugene “Pobelter” Park, and eventually Kim “Wadid” Bae-In as well who was a Worlds semi finalist, is very humbling. It kind of allows me to learn from them while establishing my own style. And that’s kind of what a lot of this year was for me, trying to establish not only my identity as a coach, but the identity of FlyQuest, which at times we struggled with. I think that’s where a lot of our struggles came from in Summer. Just trying to kind of do everything but not master one particular way to play that we were good at. So that of course was a whole learning process for Summer and allowed us all to grow as people and players. You saw in the Gauntlet that we actually held a candle to these teams that are in contention for worlds by discovering that style and being able to understand how we want to play and actually playing that way.
I actually just talked with Wadid and he said when the season ended, FLY didn’t really know what they wanted to be, but by the end of that long month, he felt like you all could do it and that he actually felt like a team.
I completely agree with that.
So how did you accomplish that, how did you rally the guys to get them back up to this level?
A lot of it was just understanding what we wanted to play and formulating plans around that, and also understanding how we wanted to play, and formulating plans around that too. Sometimes it was either one or the other and never really both. Actually in scrims against other gauntlet teams, particularly in the latter half, we were stomping a lot of the other teams pretty handedly playing with our own identity. But bringing that on stage, we haven’t played on stage in five or six weeks, so obviously transitioning that style and poise to the stage is a whole different animal to scrims. So we just had to make sure we felt like a team on stage. You saw the jitters in game one, it came together in game two, and then we took some risks in the other games and the series ended how it ended. You aren’t going to win either by not taking some of those risks though. We thought it was important to play our way and how we prepped to play and we just left it all on the rift.
So you’re moving into offseason and your year is more or less done for the time being, so what’s been your biggest takeaway since you’ve been in this head coach position?
For me I’m hoping that this year gives me the experience to back up my confidence. When Ifirst came to Academy, and even to LCS, I was kind of known as the guy who did a lot of research, who understood a lot of things. The collegiate guy who was the brain for this University of Toronto team. But now having this LCS experience to back up that reputation and those claims, having this confidence I think is incredibly important. And having teammates that are so supportive as well - the players and fellow staff members. Having that support system is so important for any head coach. You see with Clutch, they run that tandem with Artemis who is less game knowledge heavy and Thinkcard who I have immense respect for when it comes to how he understands the game. Finding your own support system as a coach, you just can’t do it alone. In collegiate, in Academy, I had to do it alone; you aren’t given those same resources, but at the LCS level, you can’t be the hero. You need the support network and the players need it too. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned through this whole experience.
And you had one change earlier in the break between Spring and Summer, and you may have changes in the offseason as well. What’s it been like for your first time having a voice in the team’s focus during the offseason.
I have input in roster decisions. Obviously for Juan “JayJ” Guibert, I think he’s a spectacular player, I think he’s definitely LCS level, and we are blessed to have two supports at that level, and maybe even beyond it I would say. But in terms of why we chose Wadid over JayJ, it was a team style thing. Again going back to finding our own style and identity, Wadid fit in really well with that at the time we made that decision. As well, with Wadid in the roster, JayJ performed even better. The challenge of Wadid being there helped JayJ with his performance on the main team when it came to how he grew as a player, what he was learning, and how he understood the game. And at the team level, our understanding of the game increased as a result of that roster addition. The team felt more comfortable going all the way through with Wadid because he fit our style more. And again, not to say JayJ is a bad player, I think he is a spectacular player and should be on an LCS team 100%, but when it came to FlyQuest, he was challenged and rose to that challenge and did very well for himself. But we as a team just decided Wadid fit the style better for what we wanted to work on than JayJ.
It’s far too early to say what the team needs in the offseason, but do you have any hopes for yourself though?
I want to go to Worlds and volunteer to help a team. That’s what I want. If teams are interested, I’m going to work with my org to see if that’s even possible, but I’m deeply interested in doing that for my own growth. And for North America too. I think if we have more people able to help our NA teams, that might be able to help our results, so that’s something that I’m personally interested in. I haven’t really shared that with anyone yet, but that’s really my number one thing.
I hope that works out for both you and North America! Are your hopes to be that analyst/brain for a team, or just a fly on the wall, or what?
Whatever capacity honestly. It’ll help me as well when it comes to approaching the LCS next year.
Anything else you’d like to mention before we head off into a long break?
I guess I just want to say thanks to the fans who stuck around. I know we weren't on stage for a while and I just really appreciate people who were still talking about us. Even the people who were harsh critics for us because that’s just another form of motivation beyond just the cheers from the fans. And also especially to those who come out to see us in person. Those people are all great and they’re so loud, so we’re appreciate of that. Also, obviously to my players and fellow staff I work with. But yeah, even the harshest critics of FlyQuest and me myself, we appreciate them. I appreciate that they take time out of their day to say things to make us a better team.
Well best of luck this offseason, I’m looking forward to seeing a leveled up Invert next season.
Yeah, and a leveled up FlyQuest too.