Is Flakes Ready For Team Liquid?
He’s a rebel, challenging the norms of play styles and car choices. Hrant "Flakes" Yakoub has been out of the picture for a while, but RLCS XI could be his comeback. He is rumoured to sign with Team Liquid, to play alongside his old teammate Ronaky. What has Flakes been up to, and is he prepared to return to the forefront of European Rocket League?
The Dutch talent with Armenian roots had his breakthrough in 2019, when he played for Complexity Gaming. With the Scandinavian duo of Joonas "Mognus" Salo and Marius "gReazymeister" Ranheim, Flakes made his way up from the Rival Series to the main stage of the RLCS. RLCS Season 8 wasn’t what the team had hoped for, though, as they lost all seven matchups. Even though most of these matches went all the way to game 5, they couldn’t bring it home. Subsequently, Complexity left the RLCS and their players behind.
Come 2020, Flakes found another opportunity to show his skill. FC Barcelona brought him on after the release of Dan "bluey." Bluett, to play with David "Deevo" Morrow and Aldin "Ronaky" Hodzic. As FC Barcelona finished 5-4, they got to start the Playoffs from the lower bracket. There, they beat Veloce and Reciprocity, for the second time that season, and finish Season 9 in third to fourth place. Still, it’s not enough for Flakes. He dreams big and wants to play the play style he envisions. Flakes only stayed on for a season, but it’s enough to impress the Rocket League scene.
Flakes wanted something completely different. He planned to build his own team from the ground up and to work on his own unconventional play style. Flakes has never been afraid to think outside of the box and to follow his own rules. He stood out by using a cockroach topper in RLCS matches, and changing his car to whatever he wanted. Of course, it doesn’t actually change the game, as all cars are standardised in just a few hitboxes, but nobody else dared to do what Flakes did. Not even the Proteus or Scarab were too much to handle for the notorious weeb.
It doesn’t look like Flakes really found that team he wanted, as he’s mostly been playing with other leftover players. For the RLCS X Winter Split, he teamed up with Francesco "kuxir97" Cinquemani and Kieran "rehzzy" Hogan to play the Open Qualifiers. On several occasions, this team named SWAG got into the Closed Qualifiers, but they fell just short of actually making it to the RLCS. What stands, though, is that Flakes never gave up, and has always been grinding to be ready for the next opportunity that comes along.
His next chance may very well be Team Liquid. Shift recently put out the rumour that Flakes could be Team Liquid’s third, and Ronaky has been teasing the same thing. Ronaky and Flakes know each other from their FC Barcelona days, so it looks like Flakes is reverting to a time before he went his own way. It could be exactly what he needs to get back to RLCS level.
Germán "El General" Micciullo was FC Barcelona’s coach when Ronaky and Flakes played there, who gave us an exclusive unique insight into this situation. “Flakes was nothing short of fun and interesting to work with. Of course, he was a little bit special considering his way of thinking about Rocket League play style, but he was always down to sit and listen to whatever we had to say, which helped a lot during that season we were together.”
El General explained why Flakes left Barça after just four months: “After Worlds was cancelled, there was a major dip in mentality for all of us. We felt there was nothing more to go for with the pandemic starting to get extremely serious, and after an awful performance in the Spring Series, Flakes decided he was not going to keep playing with us next season, as he was no longer enjoying the team's play style.”
The issue with conflicting play styles is something Flakes takes extremely seriously. Does he still hold on to his unusual ideas about playstyles? El General thinks so. “I doubt that's ever going to change. Flakes has this unique view of Rocket League - which is not wrong at all, contrary to what many say - the only problem is that he is really excessive. There are many times where his game sense and ways to tackle a play come in clutch, but there are even more times where it can hinder the whole team's performance. He just needs to find the perfect balance between his own and a fast-paced team play style, and rely more on his teammates. Comms are there for a reason, but it’s something he doesn't have on his day-to-day grind.”
Does their old coach think it helps that Ronaky and Flakes have played together before? “It does immensely. As stated before, he is a really unique player and the experience Ronaky has from working with him, is going to be essential if he ends up building this new Liquid roster.”
The real question remains: how would Flakes perform in RLCS XI if he were to join Team Liquid? El General said: “Honestly, while I believe it will not be perfect at the beginning, it will slowly get better and better, until they reach a nice spot and work from there. It will still depend on Flakes' willingness to listen to his teammates' feedback and adapt on the go. Ronaky loves a fast-paced passing playstyle, and Flakes can deliver for sure, as seen in the past. The matter is just making the effort for it to happen.
Flakes has shown in the past that he can adapt quickly. When he joined Barça, his previous team had disbanded after coming in last place in the RLCS. It didn’t seem to phase him, as he made the top four the next season. Team Liquid is counting on his adaptability, and they desperately need it.
RLCS X was far from great for the organisation, and a repeat of that performance in RLCS XI would be even worse. By kicking two players off the starting roster, they show the will and commitment to make drastic changes.
Flakes has to deliver. If he does as well as he musty flicks with the Proteus, that should be no problem.