After a blazing start to the season, FlyQuest eSports has lost six of their last seven games, plummeting down the ranks of the NA LCS. A post-season berth looked all but assured, but the playoff race has tightened to a point where FlyQuest are no longer guaranteed a spot. As the rest of the NA LCS continues to develop synergy and team cohesion, creative drafting and excellent shot-calling are no longer enough to overcome the lack of individual talent on FlyQuest.
Coming into the season, little was expected of FlyQuest eSports. Led by team captain Hai “Hai” Lam, the former Cloud9 Challenger squad were an experienced group of LCS veterans who over time had been replaced by more talented players on their former teams.
Their roster is composed of three pieces of the original Cloud9 roster: Mid laner Hai, Support Daerek “LemonNation” Hart, Top laner An “Balls” Le, along with LCS veteran AD Carry Johnny “Altec” Ru and underwhelming former Team Liquid Jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate. With limited firepower and multiple members considered to be past their prime, most analysts predicted FlyQuest to finish near the bottom of the NA LCS standings.
FlyQuest shocked the North American scene by exploding into the NA LCS Spring Split, racing out to a 6-1 record to start the season. They showed excellent understanding of the draft phase and creative picks that caught multiple opponents off-guard to FlyQuest’s advantage.
While they failed to gain individual CS or lane leads, their map movements and decision making frequently lead to early and mid advantages that FlyQuest was able to ride to victories. For a time, Hai could easily have been considered to be the league’s MVP; FlyQuest looked to be a top tier team in NA.
ANALYSIS: How FlyQuest Outwitted Team Dignitas In The Draft Phase
Dignitas Don’t Ban The OP Trinity
Dignitas threw the first curveball of the draft when they chose not to ban any of the red side trinity of Camille/LeBlanc/Rengar. This could be seen as a test of FlyQuest’s champion pools or (as we will find out later) Dignitas had a planned first rotation of picks dependant upon FlyQuest’s last ban.
FlyQuest Ban Camille
When FlyQuest realize Dignitas is not banning any of the trinity, they decide to ban one of the three to prevent Dignitas receiving two in their first rotation. They made the correct choice in banning Camille. FlyQuest would likely not first pick Camille for Balls, and allowing Ssumday to play Camille could have a disastrous impact for FlyQuest.
FlyQuest Pick Rengar
With both Rengar and Leblanc available, FlyQuest decide to first pick Rengar for Moon. Moon had previously expressed he is extremely confident on Rengar, and he has shown previously this season to be strong on carry junglers. Although this leaves Leblanc open, Hai has shown he can play many different mid champions and FlyQuest would rather allow Keane to play Leblanc than allow Chaser to pick up Rengar.
Dignitas Pick Varus & Leblanc
With Jhin banned, Dignitas grab the other top tier ADC after patch 7.2 in Varus. This is the execution of a great early draft strategy that not only allows Dignitas at least one of the trinity but also the highest priority ADC left available. Varus has especially benefitted from the buffs to lethality in 7.2, after already being a top 2 ADC pick.
Dignitas Pick Varus & Leblanc
The other part of Dignitas’s strategy is to grab a piece of the trinity for themselves, and that comes in the form of Leblanc. Arguably the strongest mid laner, this gives Keane a strong champion he can carry with and that has very few poor match-ups. Picking Varus and Leblanc in the first rotation seems like a great trade for giving up Rengar.
FlyQuest Pick Miss Fortune
FlyQuest counters the first rotation with a Miss Fortune pick. Miss Fortune is currently one of the highest priority support picks, but also benefitted as an ADC from the lethality changes in 7.2. This gives her additional value as a flex pick that we see FlyQuest which take advantage of later in their draft.
FlyQuest Pick Shen
The second piece to the dive composition puzzle, FlyQuest choose Shen to pair with their first pick Rengar. A top tier tank as well, this is an excellent pick by FlyQuest that gives Balls a safe laning phase that not only will give them split push potential late in the game, but also can be used to support any dives from Rengar when paired with Rengar’s ultimate.
FlyQuest Ban Nautilus & Maokai
When Dignitas prioritize Kha’zix as their last pick of the first phase, FlyQuest punish them by banning Maokai and Nautilus with their second phase bans. This removes the two top tanks left available and creates a predictable Poppy pick for Ssumday, information that FlyQuest can use to help draft their next two picks.
Dignitas Pick Braum
Expecting a Miss Fortune support pick, Dignitas choose Braum as their support. With his passive and ultimate, Braum provides the crowd control the Dignitas composition is severely lacking, but also can shield his team from much of the Miss Fortune ultimate if positioned and timed correctly in team fights.
FlyQuest Pick Morgana
After seeing the Braum pick, FlyQuest decide to flex Miss Fortune to the ADC position and grab Morgana as their support. Morgana adds another dimension to an already strong dive composition, providing a black shield that can be placed on Rengar or the Zed that they choose with their next pick. Morgana is also a strong pick against Braum in lane, and one that plays out heavily in FlyQuest’s favour.
FlyQuest Pick Zed
The final piece of the FlyQuest composition is another champion who benefitted from patch 7.1, Zed. A strong dive champion who can survive a laning phase against Leblanc without terrible difficulty, Hai is able to utilize Zed throughout the game in a dominant fashion. This unexpected pick creates problems especially for LOD on Varus, who has very few tools or compositional help to escape from Zed’s assassination. he Zed pick will also allow FlyQuest to execute a 1-3-1 split pushing strategy late in the game.
Then it began to fall apart for FlyQuest, starting with a series loss to their former parent organisation, Cloud9. They proceeded to go 1-6 in a dramatic freefall from their perch at the top; FlyQuest now find themselves with a 7-7 record and in a precarious position for reaching the playoffs as we approach the final weeks. While very little has changed in their playstyle or skill, flaws that were less apparent have finally been exposed.
Individually, FlyQuest fails to create lane advantages in almost every lane. They do not have the star power or talent to compete one-vs-one with the other teams of the NA LCS, and as those other teams have gradually built synergy and cohesion over the course of the split, FlyQuest’s weaknesses in lane have become increasingly apparent and exploitable.
Outside of Hai, FlyQuest has no individual player on their roster considered to be in the top tier for their position in the NA LCS. This lack of talent collectively puts them at a disadvantage in almost every match up.
To overcome these weaknesses in recent weeks, FlyQuest have often overreached in their picks, in an attempt to surprise their opponents. With unconventional picks including multiple Shaco picks, Mordekaiser bot, Blitzcrank, and a support Maokai, FlyQuest hoped to throw their opponents off guard and create an advantage that would be able to overcome the talent disparity. As reflected in their recent record, these drafts have found mixed success at best and is not a sustainable strategy that will allow them to compete with the top teams in NA.
The issues with FlyQuest appear to go deeper than just their recent drafting and poor play on the rift. In a recent interview, Immortals Jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett was questioned about FlyQuest’s recent struggles.
“It seems like they don’t take things seriously, they’re not really here to be the best.
“They’re just here to play in LCS, most of their players have had extensive and fulfilling careers in League of Legends, so it looks like they’re just having fun.
“When we scrim them, they lose in 15 minutes or they win in 15 minutes by playing really risky, random stuff.”
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
Dardoch’s comments give a deeper look into possible attitude or practice issues that are contributing to FlyQuest’s fall from grace. It’s true that most of their members have had very impressive careers, but the lack of a will to improve or dominate could result in a very short LCS stay for the newly promoted squad. Playing “risky, random stuff” in practice is also a very poor method for improvement that will not lead to long term success for FlyQuest.
With their remaining schedule and given their current run of form, it would not be surprising to see FlyQuest fail to win a single series and shockingly miss the playoffs. The lack of focus and desire to improve has already shown in FlyQuest’s recent results, and there is nothing to suggest the trend will not continue. Once placed upon the NA LCS pedestal, within months FlyQuest could find themselves right back where they started… the trapdoor to the Challenger scene is gaping.
CLICKON eSports’ NA LCS Playoffs Predictions
CLICKON’s NA Playoff Predictions
With eight teams fighting for four remaining spots, we make our NA playoffs predictions.
Phoenix1 – Prediction: IN
If you had to split the NA LCS into tiers, Pheonix1 would be a team near the top. Led by the potential MVP in ADC Arrow, Phoenix1 provides a talented lineup that has began to assert themselves as a contender. Already almost a statistical lock, Phoenix1 will be a challenger in the playoffs for the NA crown.
Counter Logic Gaming – Prediction : IN
A team who could win or lose any match, CLG has the ability to make a deep run in the playoffs. Team leader Aphromoo must rediscover the consistent play that has made him one of NA's best players over the last few seasons. If they can find a rhythm, CLG has proven they can take down the top teams in NA.
Team Dignitas – Prediction: IN
Possibly the hottest team in NA over the past few weeks, Dignitas has emerged on the back of their Korean top laner Ssumday. A roster loaded with potential, Dignitas is finally beginning to live up to the high expectations placed upon them before the season. With a soft finish to the season, Dignitas has an excellent opportunity to secure a spot in the playoffs.
Immortals – Prediction: IN
There are few teams as dependant upon the play of a single member as Immortals. Led by their star jungler Dardoch, Immortals relies upon his success to carry them to victories. Currently sitting in the last playoff spot, they should be able to find just enough success to maintain it.
FlyQuest eSports – Prediction: OUT
Since their hot start to the season, FlyQuest have continued to plummet towards missing the playoffs. The shot calling of team leader Hai has not been enough to overcome the weak laning and unfortunate drafts of recent weeks. Although they have a slight cushion, expect the free-fall to continue as FlyQuest struggle to win a series and drop out of the playoffs.
Team EnVyUs – Prediction: OUT
Currently sitting at the bottom of the standings, EnVyUs has all but been statistically eliminated from the playoffs. If there is a silver lining moving forward, it is the play of jungler Lira who has proven to be one of NA's best. Unable to capitalize on early leads, EnVyUs will need significant improvements to avoid relegation and become a contender. Prediction: OUT
Echo Fox – Prediction: OUT
Echo Fox had one of NA's best surprises this year with the emergence of rookie jungler Akaadian. Still, Akaadian and the play of team leader Froggen has not been enough to overcome the anchor of bot lane and ADC Keith. They will need to have an exceptional finish to have a chance at a playoff spot.
Team Liquid – Prediction: OUT
No team has undergone more change this season than that of Team Liquid. With three of their starting roster positions now having seen a change, Liquid hopes their latest formula with Adrian and Doublelift in the bot lane can bring them success. Team Liquid has a slim chance at the playoffs, but are truly just working to avoid relegation.