From goofy logo to North American contenders.
FlyQuest has been eliminated from the 2020 World Championships after going 3-3 in the group stage, bookending a seminal year for the organisation. Coming into the LCS in 2017, no one would have thought that this team would eventually make it to the world's stage, let alone finish with a record good enough to make it into the knockout stage in some years.
In the organisation's first years of competition, most fans and analysts had pretty middling opinions about the roosters and highlights that FlyQuest produced. But, this Season’s team defied its precedent and went on to finish second in both the Summer and Spring Playoffs and have a respectable Worlds run. But how did an organisation that many thought wouldn't even retain an LCS spot once the league turned to franchising, turn in two fantastic regular season and playoff performances?
FlyQuest was born out of a Cloud9 challenger team that had won its way into the NA LCS via the now-defunct promotion system. Since two teams could not exist in the same league with the same owner, in came Wes Edens, an owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, who bought and rebranded the team as FlyQuest. The roster for the first iteration of FlyQuest, goofy logo and all, was three players from the golden age of Cloud9, Hai "Hai" Du Lam, Daerek "LemonNation" Hart, and An "BalIs" Van Le, and two North American natives that had never achieved much previously, Johnny "Altec" Ru and Galen "Moon" Holgate. The team was so reminiscent of the old Cloud9 that fans jokingly referred to the newly minted organisation as “Cloud9 White.”
This squad was predictably not that great, finishing fifth in the regular season and fourth in the playoffs. Not a bad start in its inaugural Split, but not as exciting as its parent organisation’s entrance into the league. In the Summer Split, FlyQuest would place seventh in the regular season, avoiding relegation and playoffs, but still qualifying for the regional gauntlet with a chance to go to Worlds in its first Season. The team made it to the second round before being eliminated by Counter Logic Gaming.
This was mainly a transition year for the organisation, with no greatness or anything particularly interesting surrounding the team. FlyQuest weren’t world-beaters, the team was mainly known for how well they could win against lesser teams and lose against better teams.
But, the organisation did pick up one of its franchise players this year. Jason "WildTurtle" Tran joined FlyQuest from TSM in the mid-Split shuffle of 2017 and has remained with the team ever since.
2018 and 2019 is where people can start to see the modern FlyQuest take shape. Going into the 2018 season, the LCS was turning to franchising teams and going away from relegation and promotion systems. The league would have six franchise spots for existing teams that made the cut and then sell the other four to new organisations. FlyQuest managed to make the cut for one of the six spots, despite most fans anticipating the end for the gold and green.
With a new franchise spot also came a new vigour for competition, gone were the old Cloud9 players and older domestic talent. Now, FlyQuest had joined the import game, bringing in top laner Lee "Flame" Ho-jong, from the Immortals, mid-laner Song "Fly" Yong-jun, and former SKT coach Jung "RapidStar" Min-sung from Korea. The organisation also added some young domestic talent in Andy "AnDa" Hoang and William "Stunt" Chen.
This team ultimately did worse than its previous iteration. In the 2018 Spring Split, FlyQuest placed eighth and then blew up their roster before the Summer Split. It was then that the organisation would sign its second franchise player Lucas "Santorin" Larsen.
Santorin would go on to become the heart and soul of FlyQuest and take to the organisation that picked him up after spending three years hopping around different teams and regions after his dismissal from TSM in 2015.
The rest of 2018 was simultaneously exciting and boring for FlyQuest. The team had a regular-season battle in the Spring Split with multiple tie-breakers for Playoff seeding before ultimately getting swept in the first round. The team did not even qualify for the regional gauntlet because of its lack of points in the current system.
In 2019 FlyQuest would again get off a decent Spring Split with new additions Omran "V1per" Shoura in the top lane and Eugene "Pobelter" Park in the mid lane. The team would finish with another close to .500 record and make the playoffs before being swept by a superior Team Liquid.
The Summer Split went on to be a lot worse for the organisation, finishing with its worst regular season to date, 5-13. This brought the team’s overall average placement in the LCS to seventh.
Then, the FlyQuest organisation, and roster, went through a transition that paved the way for its current Worlds appearance.
- Read More - North America's Performance At Worlds
Current FlyQuest and its 2020 run
Coming into 2020 FlyQuest had a change of leadership. Tricia Sugita, the organisation's COO, transitioned to her new role as CEO and made changes and initiatives that brought fan and outside interest alike. From climate change initiatives to new apparel, and a new gaming facility, Sugita brought attention to a team that most fans had written off before the season started.
Now, the only thing left was to reward that new attention with great play and Worlds qualifications.
To start the 2020 Season, FLyQuest brought in two players with some already established synergy, Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun from the LEC and Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage from a terrible CLG squad. The two players had previously been on a Misfits squad that made its way to the World's stage in 2017.
From there, the team posted two of its best LCS performances back-to-back. Thanks to some great performances from its new players, and reliable outings from the squad’s franchise veterans, FlyQuest remained in the top half of the LCS standings for an entire Season.
There were definitely some hiccups along the way. Most notably not benching V1per for the more stable Colin "Solo" Earnest until the Spring Playoffs. But, the team had exceeded fan and organisation expectations, and it rode that high all the way to the 2020 World Championships.
Worlds is where FlyQuest’s story does come to the present, and thus the end. A 3-3 performance and drowning in the group stage is not a sad note to leave, especially in light of other team’s performances from the LCS, it is especially bittersweet given how far this organisation had come from just three years ago.
Images via lolesports