To the average FlyQuest fan, signing Moe "Revenge" Kaddoura to play Top Lane for FlyQuest Academy was a smart, but relatively unexciting move amidst the organization's struggles in the 2019 LCS Summer Split. However, to any long-term fans of LoL Esports, and of course, reddit.com/r/rivenmains, there's a wealth of interesting context around the roster move that spans over a two-year saga for the young Top Laner.
Revenge, along with FlyQuest Top Laner Omran "V1per" Shoura became notorious in Challenger for their incredible play on Riven, often fighting over the #1 spot on the North American solo queue ladder. When Revenge hit and maintained rank 1 for several weeks in a row, rumbling around the scene of him being signed to an organization in the NA LCS begin to grow louder.
Before the 2017 NA LCS Summer Split, Revenge confirmed in an interview that he had decided not to play professionally because of the wealth of opportunities he had to further his education in college. Despite receiving interest from several teams, Revenge sent the next two years putting his education first, and League of Legends second.
After seein the growth in LCS infrastructure over the past two years, Revenge considered playing professionaly again and putting his studies on hold for a shot at a dream career. After speaking with longtime friends V1per and FlyQuest Jungler Lucas "Santorin" Larsen, Revenge received advice from Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng on how to best showcase his value to teams as a rare North American talent.
Revenge spoke with Nick Geracie about his time in college, his return to the LCS scene, and his reasons for joining FlyQuest.
Congratulations on your signing, Revenge. It's been a few years since you stopped looking for a team to go to college. How involved in League of Legends have you been since then?
I've been really focused on college for the last few years. Upon entering university, I went on the pre-medical track. I was working towards a neuroscience major, so that required most of my time and effort. I still played League in my free time, which was usually one or two days per week. However, for my first year in university, I took about 7 months off from League. I started playing again afterwards during my summer break, and I hit Challenger.
When I hit Challenger, I kept playing and tried to maintain my rank for the next year. I played one day a week during that next semester and still was able to maintain my Challenger rank. When my semester ended, I realized that I should maybe give professional play another try and see what offers I'll have standing. I made an announcement on twitter, and here I am.
Seeing how fast you got signed, it seems your stock is still pretty high. Did your family understand your decision?
Just like a few years ago, they were still very against it. They needed a lot more of a push to convince, but they've always known it was my choice at the end of the day to do what makes me happy. Back then, I felt there was a lot more risk in becoming a professional player, and my parents helped me see that.
The way the scene was a few years ago in terms of contracts and management was very underdeveloped when compared to the present. Franchising hadn't occurred in the NA LCS yet, and contracts had way less to offer, especially for newer players like myself. It was risky for me to throw away multiple scholarships and other opportunities I had by entering university.
After attending university, and maturing through the experience of doing well in my time there, I realized it would always be there for me. It's always something I can go back to because I know I can handle it. I saw how much the scene had developed, and once I started to look into contracts and talked to my friends in the professional scene, I thought I should give things another try.
Of course, my parents became more supportive when they saw that the contracts were more legitimate and more based around player care than before. There's more of a future than there was a few years ago. League is starting to grow into something so much bigger and more secure.
Was FlyQuest an organization you had your eyes on before receiving offers?
I had a few other offers to play in the NA Academy League, but what really brought me to FlyQuest was the environment. I think environment is something that's spoken about when choosing a team, but no one actually speaks towards how important it is to mesh with the players like I am on FlyQuest Academy. It should be more emphasized because of how important it is to your growth as a player.
If you're like me and coming from an environment where you've never been on a team before, and specifically for LCS, if you've never experienced life in Los Angeles as a pro player, it's important to be around people that you trust as friends. You need to be in an environment where you feel you can grow quickly and be happy while growing. Although we're being paid to play video games, the stress that comes with this job is like the stress of any other competitive profession.
In addition, I've known V1per and Santorin for four or five years now. We've been talking for a really long time, so in signing with FlyQuest I felt comfortable being with players who I've known for so long. I felt like I could really grow with them.
Was seeing V1per's transformation from Riven one-trick into LCS-caliber Top Laner influence your decision? You guys share a main and have similar playstyles.
I know people are probably just thinking FlyQuest is signing Riven one-tricks, or that we're competing for the LCS spot because we have the same playstyle. But at the end of the day, watching V1per grow did inspire me in joining FlyQuest. It made me trust in their staff to help me grow as a player. I'm confident that FlyQuest can grow me very quickly into V1per's current form, because right now I think V1per is one of the best Top Laners in North America.
I'm really proud of V1per's growth, and it was definitely an influence in me signing with FlyQuest. We were just buds who would duo, and then he went pro one day and started kicking ass.
Who in the scene did you speak to when first considering a second attempt at a professional LoL esports career?
I initially made my decision about a month before my twitter announcement. I sat with my family and spoke about it with some friends, and then made the decision that I would go all-in for a month and see my progress in solo queue. I wanted to make my announcement that I was looking for a teamwhen the time felt right, but I also spoke to some pro players.
The idea for me to create a LFT video announcement was from Doublelift. He gave me the idea and said it would be really unique and catch the eyes of a lot of coaches. I agreed with him and went with the video announcement instead of a standard written LFT announcement. Doublelift told me to show that I was vocal and could communicate because that's something a lot of teams look for right now in players, and a video announcement is perfect to showcase that.
I am confident in being a vocal player, so I think doing a video was a great idea. I spoke to some of my friends in the scene as well, like V1per, and they helped me deduce what a good organization would look like based on their personal experiences as well as things they have heard. This all helped me make a good choice for myself, which was to join FlyQuest.
Is there anything you learned about yourself in the past few years that you feel will lend itself to your pro career?
In my two years at university, I became part of a neuroscience research branch at my school. I worked with a lot of people who were older than me, as well as a lot of people who were much smarter than me. They taught me how to work better in an team environment, and being there taught me how to be a leader. In general, university brought leadership traits out of me that I didn't know I had.
Coming out of high school, you're around all of your friends and you don't really have to be out of your comfort zone. To be put out of my comfort zone in university, I was able to find out that I'm more of a natural leader than I thought. I can now see how I can bring that presence into a team environment, and I've already tried to begin to bring that into FlyQuest Academy.
Obviously, joining a team in the middle of a split is something that's not recommended for players because you disrupt the team's synergy. However, I'm trying to be the best natural leader I can. So far, it's going really well, and I think I can credit my time at university for all of that.
Did you expect to get signed so quickly?
I planned for everything. I planned for getting offers right away and I planned for getting none. My real expectations were potentially signing to a team within a few weeks of my announcement, but the offers came right away.
I was a bit shocked, but at the same time, I also know that native talent in NA is really, really rare. Right now, teams are starting to realize how important it is to pick up any local talent since they don't use import slots. Because of this, I knew this I would potentially fill a need for a lot of teams. A lot of import slots are used on the Top Lane, so I knew that I would likely join a team quickly.
The process was still quicker than I expected, but I was happy about that. I was eager to play as soon as I could. I wanted to be put into a scrim environment and a competitive environment as soon as possible so I could start growing. The only growth I could have achieved without joining a team was through solo queue, and solo queue is not really the best practice.
Are you in the FlyQuest house, or are you playing remotely?
I'm at the FlyQuest house, though I started scrimming from home when first signing to the team. The environment here is really nice, and I live with the players on the main team so I learn a lot because I am around them a lot.
Sounds like this is the best case scenario for you, Revenge. Congratulations again. Is there anything you'd like to say to your long-time fans?
Thanks to all of you who stuck around, even when I said I wasn't pursuing esports anymore. I will always appreciate those of you who just stuck around to just watch me play solo queue and create content. Obviously, I'll appreciate all of my new fans who support me as I grow, too.
Going from the NA Academy League to the LCS is a long road, and there's room for so much improvement. I hope you all will be here to support me, and I hope I can make those of you who have always supported me proud as I develop the best that I can as a player.