The biggest surprise to emerge from the opening week of the North American League Championship Series is none other than the former Cloud9 Challenger team, FlyQuest eSports. Built from much of the same timber that constructed the original Cloud9 roster, the team secured victories over both Team EnVyUs and Team Liquid on their way to a 2-0 start to the season. As they stand atop the rankings, we look further in to FlyQuest’s early success and whether they can sustain it.
FyQuest is a team built on experience, with a core built on three of Cloud9’s original members, Hai “Hai” Lam, An “Balls” Le and support Daerek “LemonNation” Hart. The trio bring an abundance of LCS experience that few other teams can match. Despite cruising through the Challenger Series and Promotion Tournament, FlyQuest entered the 2017 season with low expectations and were written off by almost every analyst.
Despite ending week 1 with a 2-0 record, it is hard to draw too many conclusions from FlyQuest’s first week of action. They played an EnVyUs team missing their starting jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo, forcing starting Mid laner Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo to the Jungle role and substitute Alexey “Alex Ich” Ichetovkin into a starting position. EnVyUS was already projected to be a bottom-tier LCS team, and with them playing short-handed it makes it even more difficult to draw any significant conclusions from this series.
Team Liquid faced off against FlyQuest riding a 2-0 sweep the previous day over Counter Logic Gaming where they looked very impressive. After Liquid jumped out to a 1-0 lead, they proceeded to fall apart in the final two games, making both pick and ban mistakes and mechanical misplays that ultimately led to a FlyQuest victory in the series. Individually, Hai was a standout performer, dominating TL Mid laner Greyson “goldenglue” Gilmer in multiple games and showing his mastery of multiple strong meta picks.
Above everything, Hai brings a leadership presence and shot-calling experience that separates him from other North American Mid laners. Although Hai provided an impressive performance in his first week, FlyQuest is not a team built on individual skill and winning lane match-ups. FlyQuest hasn’t a single position on their team in which they can boast a top 5 player in that role – this showed through in their first week, where their lanes were significantly outperformed multiple times, even in victories.
FlyQuest’s key to success will be to rely on their strong macro gameplay and excellent team-fighting to propel them to victory. Their experience and game knowledge should place them near the top of the LCS synergistically, and they will need to transition team play in to advantages they can snowball throughout the game… sound familiar?
Whilst not the most talented individually of the top NA LCS teams, Counter Logic Gaming consistently finds success through their macro play and behind the shotcalling of their team captain and Support, Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black. CLG has ridden strong-shotcalling and great team-fighting to success both internationally and domestically, winning the 2016 Spring Split and placing second at the Mid-Season Invitational.
In many ways, FlyQuest can potentially follow CLG’s blueprint for success for the rest of this season, yet FlyQuest may still not find themselves in a playoff spot by the end of the split. As many of the teams improve their synergy and team cohesion, the lack of individual skill on FlyQuest should become more of an issue. Still, Hai has continued to defy the odds in the past, and do not be surprised if he carries this team to success once again.
Team FlyQuest and CLG will meet in the first match of week 2 of the LCS. Two veteran teams will clash in a series that should provide crisp rotations and excellent objective play. With both teams following similar styles for success, it will be exciting to discover who will come out on top.