FlyQuest is at the top of the world when it comes to the LCS, and they aren’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon. Dexerto caught up with Spica to ask him about his years with TSM and how he’s been able to move on and the daunting task of finding ways to improve when you’re the best team in the region.
For the first time in years, FlyQuest has given people within the LCS and beyond hope that a North American team can have a strong showing internationally. Other than CLG’s strong MSI run in 2016, LCS teams have, for the most part, flopped at both MSI and Worlds.
Even with EG and Cloud9 hitting their stride in Spring and Summer respectively through 2022, neither team was able to keep it together when it came to international competition. Blaber spoke on how he wanted a higher level of competition in North America during his Worlds 2022 run, and that’s a sentiment that Mingyi ‘Spica’ Lu has now mirrored in his interview with Dexerto.
Even with how dominant FlyQuest has been so far, Spica still has some concerns about how well they’ll do internationally.
FlyQuest could be hitting a ceiling in the LCS
The very unfortunate reality behind dominating the LCS is that it can be difficult to get meaningful practice in. When there isn’t a team that can consistently beat you on-stage and you’re in a region that already has a history of poor international performance, things start to get scary.
“It’s very hard to improve when we’re winning every game. There are definitely angles we can still see to become better, but I feel like we’re winning a lot of games because we’re just better than the opponent. I don’t feel challenged. I think that’s kind of a bad thing, we might get more relaxed if we don’t get challenged. Against better teams, people who lane better at international tournaments, we might falter.”
“But I think we just really have to be aware of that fact and focus on what we can do. If we do fall behind at international tournaments, we just have to really grind. If we go to MSI or Worlds and we realize, ‘Hey, these international teams are really good’ and the competition of the LCS was just slow and that’s why we’re winning. So we just have to work really hard and get to their level.”
On top of this is a current jungle meta that, for Spica, hasn’t allowed him to express his skill as a player as much as he’d like. He assserted that “junglers just look really good when they’re winning”, and that the current meta doesn’t give him a whole lot of room to innovate.
He’s been playing underutilized junglers like Amumu and doing everything he can to stand out, but skill-expressive, hard-carry junglers just aren’t a big part of the meta right now.
“I think Riot has dumbed down jungle a lot, and I’m not really a big fan of the direction they’re going with. I feel like jungle right now is just very straightforward, playing for your lanes. Personal advantages don’t really matter. If I can get a 3 camp lead vs burning a flash, honestly, I’m going for that flash every time. We see that a lot in-game, there’s a lot of level 3 fighting and junglers just running around trying to look for ganks and trying to look for flash.”
“Hopefully they’ll change this around in the future, but I think, right now, jungle is just very straightforward.”
That isn’t to say that Spica doesn’t have places where he thinks he could improve as a player. He’s still striving to reach “100%” as he put it, but he didn’t feel like getting an individual lead over your opponent matters much in the current state of the game. And that’s a shame for a jungler as decorated as Spica.
What’s more, Spica had an answer that set off some alarm bells when it came to why Prince and VicLa look so strong in North America, and why they’re able to find so much success within the region.
“I think Prince specifically is just naturally aggressive, he looks for angles to gain advantages, right? I wouldn’t say… I wouldn’t call it aggression. I feel like it’s just punishing enemy mistakes. They see the angles to punish enemy mistakes and they go for it. I wouldn’t say they have the intention of, ‘Hey, I’m going to play aggressive’ when they get into game. I just really hate when people say a player is aggressive or passive because it’s all about how you can punish the enemy mistakes.”
“But I think, for my mindset, I just want to enable them as best as I can. If they wanna play aggressive, I’m gonna be there. I’m gonna find the enemy jungler. I’m gonna cover for them. I think they’re both very mechanically skilled, they see better angles and have better laning than any other LCS players. I just want to be there to enable them to go for those angles, and I think, so far, I’m doing a decent job.”
In other words, these players may look aggressive here in comparison to how they were in the LCK when, in reality, they’re just able to find more mistakes to capitalize on when playing against competitors in North America.
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It’ll be hard to say for sure if that’s the case until international competition gets underway, but talking to Spica about the quality of practice in NA was a very sobering. Even from the top of the LCS, Spica feels like FlyQuest has a lot to work on.
That said, he wasn’t shy about saying what’s really working for him on this team, and how the inner workings of FlyQuest have helped him to improve in comparison to when he was on TSM.
Spica reflects on TSM and reveals what makes FlyQuest better
FlyQuest is a very fun team. Between Spica’s pre/post game masterpieces that are a viral hit on twitter and the generally fun vibe that the team gives off both in and out of game, their excitement is infectious.
You can tell that everyone on this team is having a good time.
Spica gave some creative insight on what fuels his unique social media presence and how he’s gotten his teammates involved.
“I think everyone’s pretty outgoing. People understand it’s something that makes the game more fun, we laugh at all the memes and stuff. It helps us get together, it’s just something cool that we do, you know? I can’t do it every week cause my creative juices aren’t always that high, but I think every once in a while it’s something that I think is cool and gets good reception. I think people really like them, and I’ll hopefully have more of that in the future.”
The personalities of all the players on FlyQuest have made them more than just a good team: They’re a team worth being fans of. While winning definitely helps the mood, Spica spoke on how the environment and infrastructure on his new team has really helped him out in comparison to TSM.
“First of all, I want to say it’s really easy to have fun when you’re winning. That’s definitely a big factor. I’ve been on losing teams. I mean, honestly, even before in 2021 TSM Summer. We were winning a lot, right? But it was high-tension.”
“No matter what happens in scrims, no matter what your record is, keeping the mood light is very important. Mental is a very big part of competition and it’s often overlooked. I think that’s very important to being a good team and functioning well together.”
After commenting on the environment on TSM, we wanted to know more about what makes FlyQuest different. It can be easy to look at FlyQuest and say they’re individually much better than TSM’s recent rosters, but there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes that can make a good team on paper into a great team in practice.
“FlyQuest has more structure in terms of coaching staff, I think that’s the biggest difference. It has a very clear structure, everyone has a job and clear feedback. Our coach, Sharkz, he works with me a lot specifically for jungle, so that’s really, really helpful. Having really solid, knowledgeable players helps me a lot.”
“Last year, I was… I feel like this is maybe something I brought upon myself, but I felt like I had to do everything. I had to shotcall, I had to contribute a lot in review and draft. I think that overwhelmed me. It’s really helpful to have some veteran voices guiding me through daily scrims and on stage. Impact has done a great job with that. I think Sharkz and Ssong have done a really great job with that. It took a lot of weight off my shoulders, and I felt like I could focus on my own personal play more. I can focus on myself more, and that’s a big difference.”