FlyQuest has secured a position in the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs.
An exquisite Rumble performance courtesy of Lee “Flame” Ho-Jong on headlined the triumph over Golden Guardians, but FlyQuest’s entire summer run has been a team effort. Lucas “Santorin” Larsen and Juan “JayJ” Gilbert have been excellent all summer. and Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco is a bonafide Coach of the Split candidate, and Mid Laner Jang “Keane” Lae-Young has been remarkably flexible since his promotion from FlyQuest Academy.
This win is perhaps most important to FlyQuest ADC Jason “WILDTURTLE” Tran. Following a brief return to TSM in the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split, Wildturtle joined FlyQuest in the summer to a disappointing eighth-place finish. When FlyQuest franchised for the 2018 NA LCS, Wildturtle was the only player kept on the roster and would act as the shot-caller for the new team.
The plan was heavily questioned, especially after a repeat eighth-place finish for FlyQuest despite the roster overhaul. However, improvements and roster changes for the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split brought everything to fruition. FlyQuest currently sits in fourth place with a chance at a playoff bye if they can defeat the scorching hot Cloud9 in their final game of the season.
I sat down with Wildturtle to reflect upon FlyQuest’s season and get his take on the NA LCS playoff picture.
Wildturtle, this is very exciting. FlyQuest has qualified for playoffs, and to me, this feels like YOUR team. You were the only player FlyQuest kept when they rebuilt their entire roster for 2018. How does this feel for you?
Right now, it feels like everything is clicking for our team. Granted, we had a really shitty spring split, but this split, we’ve really come together. I feel like everything I’m contributing to the team is being reciprocated. My teammates take my feedback seriously, and we really play well as a team now. Overall, we’ve come a pretty long way.
This game was a great example. I played horribly compared to my normal standards. I was choking a bit because the match meant a lot for our playoff qualification, and I wasn’t playing well at all. In most of our wins this split, I was carrying, and whenever I didn’t do well, our team would automatically lose.
I’m really happy because everyone has gelled so well and developed our own style as a team, we won in spite of my poor play. My teammates really turned the game around for me, so I’m really happy about that.
You guys are firing on all cylinders, and your macro has been much cleaner than splits past. If I recall correctly, you were the shot caller for the team in spring. Is that still the case in summer?
Yeah, I’m definitely contributing to the communications when I feel like something isn’t right. I have a pretty good general idea of what I think is right and what my teammates think is right as far as our win conditions and what we need to do to keep the game progressing.
You’re laning with JayJ, and you guys have been impressing everyone with your play as a duo. What has he brought to the team that you guys didn’t have in spring?
I really like JayJ’s mindset. He has a great learning mentality, and I love that in a player. A lot of players think they’re too good, so they learn a bit slower. But JayJ’s really open to criticism and prioritizes doing what’s correct for the team, and I think that’s why he’s able to play at the level he has been.
Looking towards playoffs, are there any teams that you want to play against?
I think we’ll win the entire thing. I have to have that kind of confidence right now. I’m really confident in this roster and this team, and we’re going to win.
Did you have input in constructing this roster in the offseason?
Yeah, we had options in all positions and they took my preferences into consideration.
How does this compare to your other playoff runs with TSM and Immortals?
Normally, I feel semi-confident and know that the team I am on has the potential to win playoffs. This time around, because I haven’t been to playoffs since the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split, making it after this really shitty year means a lot to me.
Throughout all those losses, I think I learned a lot about myself and what I can be doing to help my team win. I think everything I’ve learned since joining FlyQuest is able to be applied, after losing for a year and taking eighth place twice, we have what it takes.
Well, you’re here now, and that’s what matters. FlyQuest made a change before the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split and brought in Santorin, who has been amazing for you guys in the jungle. How has he grown since your time together on TSM in 2015?
Honestly, Santorin is the most stable player on our team. He doesn’t make any major mistakes and he’s always doing the right things. He’s the backbone of our team, so I’m afraid that if he doesn’t play well, we won’t look that good (laughs) he’s been doing pretty hot lately, and I commend him for that.
You could make the argument that Santorin is the best player on our team.
You guys play Cloud9 tomorrow in your last game of the split, there’s a potential playoff bye on the line. Was this a scenario your team considered?
Yeah, it actually was. We were talking about how it could be a possibility, so our goal was to go 2-0 this weekend. Saintvicious has been such a big cornerstone to our success this split. He and Lucas make my job so much easier, so I wanted to make sure to give them my respects.
If we bring what we have practiced tomorrow, and we show up, we’re going to destroy C9.
How do you think that you’ve changed as a player from your time on TSM a few years ago?
I’ve definitely grown a lot. I wasn’t very good at communicating and conveying certain emotions or thoughts to my teammates. I was a pretty introverted kid. All I’ve done is play video games my whole life, so communication was always something I struggled with.
When I first started playing professionally, my communication levels were extremely low. I would say very few things in game, but now that I’m older and have more experience, I’m able to communicate better with my teammates. I can convey my thoughts in a way that my teammates understand, and I’m a lot better at bouncing off other people’s ideas than I was in the past.
Communication is definitely the thing I’ve improved on the most throughout my professional career. I’m also pretty good at communicating out of game now as well, so my life skills have improved in general.
You’ve gone from the least communicative member of TSM to the primary shotcaller of FlyQuest. What has that transition been like?
I’m not necessarily our shotcaller. I would say I’m more of a teacher. I often tell my teammates what we could have done better in game during a bad situation. If I’m feeling bad in a situation, I give feedback and that ends up helping a lot in our future games.
If I see my teammates messing something up, I pull them. I guess that’s my way of shotcalling. I teach out of the game first and then nudge toward our win conditions if needed during the game.
That’s the best way for me to communicate with my teammates. I try to teach and convey what I think is the best way to play, or what will make me play better, and then we execute on that.
Was it hard to build up that type of synergy and trust?
It was a very long process. You saw us in the first few weeks — we were dogshit. But we’ve come this far through hard work and trust in each other. Our team atmosphere is amazing. We’re a really chill team, and I think we perform because we don’t get tense.
Do you think you guys have grown closer outside of the game as well?
Definitely. I got a Mazda a few months ago, so now that I have a car, I drive us around to get food and stuff like that all the time.
Congratulations on everything, Wildturtle. Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and the FlyQuest fans?
I know I’ve been a pro player for a long time, but I haven’t been to Worlds in more than two years. I want to prove to my fans that I still have what it takes to be a good player.
Nick Geracie is a freelance esports journalist currently located in Los Angeles. You can follow him on Twitter here.