Timing is everything.
The Liga Latinoamérica wasn’t necessarily a region to make headlines when it came to League of Legends. A region struggling to establish themselves as a wild card threat was also watching as other regions became feeders for the “big four” regions. Despite maintaining an active local fan base, a more global audience wasn’t tuning it.
But timing is everything.
The crown jewel of the region, Brandon Joel “Josedeodo” Villegas would lead Rainbow7 on a playoff run, getting the upset victory over tournament favorites All Knights. He would then became a human highlight reel with his widely followed solo queue climb prior to the Worlds 2020 tournament. And suddenly, he was the hottest prospect available, earning that year’s title of “Levi Award” for being the relatively unknown prospect likely to be scouted by a North American team.
Timing is everything.
He would receive an offer to join Team Liquid Academy that off-season, potentially able to improve his craft as he noticeably displayed raw tendencies on the stage. He wouldn’t have the same performance as Levi would in 2017 at Worlds. But the excitement around him was palpable. The beauty in Josedeodo wasn’t just his hair or his fans, it was in this idea of translating what he displayed in solo queue to the stage — something North America was finding success with in recent years.
All of this led a team that was in need to take the risk.
Timing is everything.
FlyQuest were undergoing a massive overhaul of their lineup, unable to afford the lineup that brought them to their first international event. Impacted by COVID-19’s chokehold on the NBA, the Edens family tightened the budget yet gave Josedeodo the opportunity Team Liquid simply couldn’t: the face of the franchise.
Just over a year later, it is tough to know if the risk was worth it.
If you tune into a Josedeodo stream, you’ll notice a couple of things. First, his hair. It’s fantastic. Second will be the flood of fans, greeting Josedeodo, being met with an immediate, infectious smile. And the third thing will be his native tongue. Josedeodo has stayed true to his home fans.
He’s always on the solo queue ladder and remains an active participant in Champions Queue. But it has always been fascinating to see how, in a way, he feels so distant from the North American fan base. It is a testament to his appreciation of where he started. Even when he is on the stage, he feels distant. Twitch chat will spam “Tuki Time” in his honor. And to fans that don’t know him, they’re left searching for what it means.
I still don’t know what it means, going to be honest there.
He’s introduced a new audience to the LCS and to FlyQuest. But in a way, his introduction to the LCS hasn’t been as impactful.
Calling the 2021 season for FlyQuest a disappointment would be a massive understatement. It was a car wreck on a rainy day. The young talent that filled the lineup felt disjointed. The strategic vision of the team felt clouded. Level one strategies would fall flat. And more importantly, their franchise man felt lost on the stage.
Statistically speaking, he would do all of the right things — decent damage per minute, early game leads. Yet in the grand scheme of things, Josedeodo came off as a ghost — lacking the same aggression and mechanical prowess that made him desirable.
FlyQuest as an organization would look to re-group during the middle of the season, promoting their academy lineup to allow their young starters some time to dumpster players in the academy region. And they would, inspiring confidence in their young jungler. But still, it wouldn’t transition onto the LCS stage.
Maybe the worst part- Josedeodo was on contract until November of 2023. But the beauty of an offseason is that everything can change in League of Legends.
Timing is everything.
This past split, FlyQuest appeared to be in a position to contend in the LCS. Struggles from previous contenders opened the door for teams to make things interesting.
FlyQuest did just that.
Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black joining the roster was the key acquisition. A veteran of the scene, his ability to lead his teams continues to be powerful. FlyQuest now had someone to guide the team through battle — something that would be noticeable in in-game calls. The team would be more vocal and more connected rather than split decisions or a lack of confident leadership.
The team would also bring in a player Josedoedo was wanting to work with — an incredible prospect in Loïc “toucouille” Dubois — who frankly should have been first-team All-Pro in his respective position.
FlyQuest were now a team. Even if the second half of the split wouldn’t fare as well for them, the potential they showed in the first half was more than enough to get excited about.
But people weren’t necessarily excited about Josedeodo.
He ranked seventh in average gold difference at ten minutes (-66) and on average was participating in less kills than his opponents. He wasn’t producing stellar damage statistics (8th overall) and wasn’t necessarily making the proactive plays compared to his counterpart — with 35% first blood percentage. His four neutral objective steals were tied for the most in the LCS but outside of that, he wasn’t necessarily excelling in anything.
As a team, FlyQuest weren’t necessarily great at objectives secured. They were second in first dragon percentage (60%) but struggled to secure heralds and turrets. Like most Aphromoo-led teams, their bread and butter came to teamfighting. It is a blessing and a curse — teams look much better but can hide individual highs and lows.
And Josedeodo hasn’t necessarily been able to fight against criticisms of his performance. The meta has fallen into his favor a fair amount but the execution hasn’t been there. His most played champion in spring, Viego, would also be the champion he looked the worst on. And the win-loss column agrees at 2-5. He would perform well on Lee Sin, going 3-0 in the regular season with a 6.5 KDA on the champion. But having your name be connected to just being a Lee Sin one-trick isn’t anything new. It isn’t inspiring.
The jungle position in North America continues to be a position where teams are turning to local talent. It’s one of North America’s best positions. Yet it is a position that teams have been willing to stick with underperforming players. It’s a fascinating dynamic.
Josedeodo has been average at best since coming to North America. He continues to be a well-received figure but hasn’t necessarily been a threat on the stage.
The hope is that something finally clicks for the Argentinian. But the question of what is needing to click isn’t necessarily clear. He’s received the resources and has avoided criticism during most of his time with FlyQuest but also hasn’t necessarily received the praise for the team’s turnaround.
And having one year left on a contract gives teams options. FlyQuest has a prospect ready to go in their academy division — Ganbat “Yuuji” Ulziidelger — who continues to improve. FlyQuest have also shown a willingness to let others get their opportunity in the spotlight.
Being a liked figure gets you pretty far in competitive League of Legends. Josedeodo is a likeable dude — charismatic and friendly with all players. It gets you a ton of viewers on Twitch too.
But the hope is that Joseodedo can do something on the Rift that his contract more likeable, his skill more likeable. And that’s going to be the big question: is that big breakout moment coming? Or, will the clock run out?
It is tough to gauge. Junglers have been able to get away with far worse performances and 2021 saw two junglers fight for MVP honors in a similar “team first” setting that Josedeodo is currently in. Summer could be the time where Josedeodo shows North America why he was the hottest commodity of the 2020 summer. Or, he could be on his way out.