In Raleigh, NC, there was a hush in the crowd. Around 28 minutes into Game 5, Golden Guardians found themselves far in the lead. They were just minutes – seconds – away from qualifying for the Mid Season Invitational and participating in the grand finals of the LCS Spring Playoffs.
To say it was a FlyQuest-favored crowd would be an understatement. As one of the few lone Golden Guardians fans in attendance and potentially one of the only fans in attendance wearing the team’s merchandise, it truly felt as if I was in enemy territory. It was widely expected that a Cloud9-FlyQuest final would take place. These games were practice for just that moment.
Unless you watched the final stages of the season.
FlyQuest were the clear second-best team in North America for the regular season but were finding themselves on shaky ground. Changes to the support position disrupted the flow of the bottom lane and they were struggling to regain form. Fingers were pointed specifically in the direction of Lee “VicLa” Dae-kwang – who had clearly been underperforming. But the team as a whole looked lost.
And fans could only watch in horror as Golden Guardians looked to finish the game. All that was needed was one more engage from Kim “River” Dong-woo. Polite claps would fill the arena but the reality was setting in that FlyQuest was eliminated. Faces of shock and displeasure could be found with every turn of the head. And on the stage, only grief and disbelief.
Discussing the downfall of a team is not an enjoyable experience. Yet it is the reality check that is often needed. Since that day, FlyQuest have not won a game of competitive League of Legends. Despite making another roster decision and adding acclaimed support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme, the team has been dysfunctional, depleted and simply disappointing.
It has been a disaster class all around. There hasn’t been a true point of positivity with the team, with every beam of sunlight quickly being covered by a dark cloud. Moments where they had leads going into the mid-to-late game – such as their games against Dignitas and Golden Guardians – quickly disappeared behind questionable team-fighting.
The crown jewel of the team in Lee “Prince” Chae-hwan has made some positioning errors allowing for teams to press FlyQuest without its marksman. In a meta that has continued to show reliance on the performance of the marksmen, Prince’s sophomore split in the region has been dreadful. Sparks of brilliance are lost behind heavy rain clouds. Then again, not many things are going right for the team as a whole. Blaming one particular individual for the malpractice that is FlyQuest is unfair.
We can attribute a significant amount of their problems to their disconnect in teamfighting situations. Evil Geniuses were able to separate Prince from the rest of the team to secure a critical team-fight victory at 20 minutes into the game. An ill-fated turret dive completely turned the game on its head against Dignitas.
These types of moments and an interpretation of the events depend on your perspective of League of Legends theory. Do you blame the shot-caller? Do you blame the lack of peel? Do you blame the player for being in a position to be caught out? Do you say everything is “GG” and just go next?
What does feel strange is that we’re witnessing very good players play very poorly. But it isn’t necessarily uncharacteristic for some of the team members. Players like Vulcan, Mingyi “Spica” Lu have had stretches of their careers where they simply underperform. Oftentimes, it can be connected to champion selection – Vulcan primarily not looking as comfortable on enchanters and Spica having his list of champions with negative win rates.
Not one single member of FlyQuest has stepped up to the plate to try and take a grand swing to turn around the season. Instead, FlyQuest continues to try and regain their form in the manner where they once succeeded. It highlights a lack of leadership within the roster and a real lack of accountability. In a shortened season due to the player strike, time is not on their side. And in the first year under new ownership, the management of FlyQuest is failing in their first impression. High-profile names can shine a light on an organization both in good and bad ways.
And it is tough to argue that it is a small issue. The team is averaging a horrendous gold deficit of -2231 per game at fifteen minutes and sub-50% control rates of dragon, barons and heralds.
They remain the most intriguing story in the LCS for all of the wrong reasons and the question stands as to what will happen if this trend continues. The panic of potentially missing another international event this season may lead them to do drastic things. Or the team could truly be one small fix away. What remains is the million dollar question — or for FlyQuest, the “millions” dollar question.