Rough landing

FlyQuest’s bumpy journey to Vancouver

FlyQ
Image taken from @FlyQuestSports Twitter account.

Imagine you’re on a plane to Vancouver. You’re flying on a brand new airline owned by some big name sports man. The pilot and the copilot, as well as some of the crew, are well known professionals. They’ve flown all types of planes in all types of circumstances and made it look cool. You don’t expect much, you just hope the plane doesn’t crash and burn before it takes off.

As soon as the plane lifts off you notice something. That was swift, way cleaner than you thought it would be. The entertainment is great, it looks like it’s going to be one amazing flight. However, half way through the crew starts acting up. The pilot attempts to do 3 barrel rolls in a row, and you have no idea why the flight attendant is furiously trying to do cartwheels down the aisle. Out of nowhere the engine malfunctions. You’re going to crash. After battling a live fox and purging the plane of all liquid, the crew manages to get the engine back online.

Vancouver is just minutes away. The landing strip is on the horizon. The landing gear starts to deploy. You think everything is going to be fine but you’re wrong. BAM! The first wheel explodes. Then the second. You realize there are only three wheels left. If another goes out that’s the end. Little did you know that the pilot was trained to overcome these types of situtations.

Then something truly irrational happens, some would even dare say it was counter logic. With only three wheels left, the plane safely lands in Vancouver. The passengers rejoice. Everyone thought all was lost after the first two wheels popped, but for the crew, it was just another day at the office.

That was FlyQuest’s spring split run to the semifinals.

Prepare for take off

Sure, FlyQuest’s expectations going into the 2017 Spring Split were low, and that’s being generous. Most analysts, pro players, team owners, and what have you placed them dead last in their preseason ranking. But in the words of Riot caster and hype machine Sam Kobe Hartman-Kenzler: “I never doubted them” (See CLG vs RNG MSI 2016 Day 4 for clarification). From the get go the roster had the potential to be a middle of the pack team and quite honestly contend for playoffs. With veterans like Hai Lam, Daerek LemonNation Hart, and An Balls Le in their line up it was hard to see them getting relegated.

The first week of play surprised everyone. FlyQuest finished with a 2-0 record and looked solid throughout their games. They were fast paced and decisive. Galen Moon Holgate’s aggresive playstyle got the team ahead early and Hai’s incredible shotcalling was a key factor in closing out games. FlyQuest was shaping up to be a contender for top 3 in the NA LCS.

Turbulence

However, FlyQuest’s season quickly took a turn for the worst. After their loss against Cloud 9 in week 4, the team started struggling. From week 4 to week 8 they were only able to beat Team EnVy, and their overall record dropped from 6-2 to 7-9. The team looked lost.

They were experimenting too much with picks like Mordekaiser bot, Blitzcrank and Maokai support, and Shaco jungle. Against weaker teams they were able to pull through. Nevertheless, when facing the likes of Team SoloMid and Cloud9, they got destroyed.

Their late game decision making and shot calling turned messy. Most games you’d see them go to Baron without a clear idea of what they wanted to do. Were they baiting? Are they going to burst down the Baron or will they turn to fight? Amidst all the confusion, Flyquest usually ended up throwing around that objective.

Rough landing

FlyQuest’s playoffs dreams were becoming harder and harder to achieve as the season progressed. After two hard fought matches in their last week of play, they barely qualified as the fifth place team by taking down both Echo Fox and Team Liquid. They would battle against Counter Logic Gaming in the quarterfinals for a spot in the semis and a guaranteed ticket to Vancouver.

The quarterfinals were an uphill battle for FlyQuest. Choi HuHi Jae-hyun, CLG’s mid laner, got his hands on his trademark champion, Aurelion Sol, and dominated the Rift in game 1. Aurelion Sol was banned for the rest of the series but CLG still had tricks up their sleeves. In game 2, Darshan Upadhyaya, CLG’s top laner, pulled out the Mundo pick as a counter to Balls’ Rumble. Let’s just say Balls didn’t enjoy that game. HuHi showed up big this time on Ahri, assassinating FlyQuest’s members multiple times. CLG’s bot lane played exceptionally well, setting up play with Ashe’s Enchanted Crystal Arrow [R] and Nami’s Aqua Prison [Q]. The 3-0 sweep was a game away for Counter Logic Gaming.

For what could have been the final game, FlyQuest switched up the Pick and Ban phase. Hai secured Talon and Moon was able to pick Rengar. This time around Balls played a much cleaner Rumble, landing his ultimate on multiple members of the enemy team throughout the whole game. With two assassins in their composition, FLY acquired early leads and snowballed to victory.

The next game was a repeat of the previous. Moon was on Rengar again. He got extremely fed and was put in a position to carry. Hai also did his fair share of damage on Orianna and Johnny Altec Ru, FLY’s AD Carry, landed some crucial Ashe ultimates. The series was tied 2-2. Game 5 would determine whether Flyquest had what it takes to be a top 4 team in the NA LCS.

Rengar was finally banned after winning the last four games. FlyQuest prioritized picking their bot lane of Karma/Ashe over securing Camille. CLG took Camille and later locked in Kalista, a marksman that is more difficult to execute than the rest. HuHi, after not finding any success on Syndra, opted to take Ekko, a more mobile AP assassin. Moon selected Evelynn as his jungler of choice, a risky pocket pick. Talon was again in Hai’s hands as a comfort pick. It was do or die time for both squads.

The early game was grueling. They were trading blow for blow, kill for kill. Skirmishes would have the players drop to miniscule amounts of health but nobody would die. CLG sealed their fate when Darshan committed to a fight with no back up. FlyQuest would then turn to take the Baron and later the Elder Drake. CLG was desperate as their members would try to make hero plays to save the game to no avail. FlyQuest emerged victorious after the final showdown at Elder and took the series in a reverse sweep.

FlyQuest showed that even under huge amounts of pressure they can adapt and keep morale high. Hai and the rest of the ex-C9 members truly do specialize in reverse sweeping. With that victory the squad moves onto the semifinals to face TSM and guarantee an appearance in Vancouver.

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