With Worlds on the horizon, speculation abounds as to what teams can make it through the gauntlet – but Flyquest has a secret weapon up their sleeve: Hai.
“It’s been years since Hai was a jungler. He hasn’t even played in months. How could he hold up in the NA LCS?”
“C9 didn’t even make the playoffs this split. There’s no way they can make it all the way to worlds.”
“Maybe Hai made it as a jungler, but I can’t see him succeeding as a support. He just doesn’t know the role well enough.”
Du “Hai” Lam has faced his fair share of overwhelming doubt over the years. One of the most respected players in the world is Hai. However, his road to greatness has been bumpy. Over the course of his long career, he has had stints as a jungler, a support, and even a coach. He went to the challenger scene and back, and once told an interviewer he his plans to retire. He has missed the playoffs and won them, been benched, and benched others, Hai’s career is long and storied.
However, few accomplishments in his historic career hold a candle to what he has done for FlyQuest. Upon their creation, Flyquest faced ridicule for their seemingly outdated roster. They were the only team in the NA LCS without a Korean import, and their players were mostly old legends who lacked the starpower to compete anymore. However, in their first split, FlyQuest outgrew their expectations. They proved that the old methods could still work, and placed 4th by the end of the split, when most had them falling to the bottom of the standings.
Under Hai’s guidance, the team proved that teamwork and shotcalling was enough to beat the contemporary teams of their day, no matter how many expensive Koreans they had to fight along the way. Hai had once again done the impossible. He exceeded expectations in absolutely every way.
This Summer split, FlyQuest began to run low on miracle powder. Their crazy picks and aggressive style just didn’t fit the meta as well as they used to. They had their moments, particularly against Immortals, but on the whole, FlyQuest seemed to be just the team we though they were to kick off the Spring Split. They only narrowly avoided relegation, missing out on playoffs and finishing in a mediocre 7th place. The fact that they even made it to regional finals was more luck than true success. FLY had a mountain to climb.
Yet, there was always this little voice that made their mountainous task seem possible. After all, this is Hai we’re talking about. When it comes down to crunch time, his experience and leadership can beat almost any team in the world. Besides, this wasn’t his first rodeo. Just 2 years ago, he led Cloud9 through the gauntlet after a disappointing 7th place finish to the Summer Split. He had done it before. He could do it again, even with all the odds stacked against him.
The gauntlet is still young, but it seems that Hai might just pull off another miracle. In series 1 of the 3-day qualifier, FlyQuest looked better than they ever have before, even during their peak in the Spring Season. They still retain their trademark style of off-the-wall aggression and insane engages, but they seem more like an actual team and less like a pack of wild animals.
FlyQuest’s victory was more about objective control and intelligent resource management than inexplicable teamfight victories. Maybe this win will turn out as a fluke, but it certainly didn’t look like one. For once, there was no cheese or salt in FlyQuest’s recipe for success. They look like a legitimate team who could give Worlds a run for its money.
It’s been said that you can never count Hai out of a series. Given his track record in impossible situations, that theory holds up well across League of Legends history. From his 2015 gauntlet run to his Spring reverse sweep, Hai has again and again proved that a strong leader can make it through all odds. Maybe Dignitas has really just gotten a lot worse. Maybe FlyQuest will fall to CLG, and go home knowing they give it their best. Or maybe, just maybe, Hai can create another miracle, and send North America’s most unlikely lineup to Worlds 2017.