Are FlyQuest For Real?
There’s no question: FlyQuest are well on the way to making 2020 their best LCS year ever. From branding wins with their tree-planting campaign to another appearance of the fabled V1per Riven to a firm hold on second place, FlyQuest have turned heads over the past six weeks.
But are FlyQuest a legitimate contender to reach the Finals and, most likely, face off against Cloud9? Most of you don’t seem to think so.
I can’t speak to the rationale of the nearly 90% of voters who think FlyQuest are not actually a top 2 team. Maybe it’s simple conservatism, expecting FlyQuest to regress towards preseason expectations. Maybe there are specific aspects of FlyQuest’s play that raise questions about their ability to sustain their performance. Maybe it’s a belief in Team Liquid continuing its turnaround, or Team SoloMid finding its stride.
I can only speak to my own expectations and rationale, and I agree with the majority: FlyQuest is a top 4 team that will need some specific circumstances to come together if they want to reach the Finals.
To dive into those rationale, let’s start with some advanced team stats!
FlyQuest’s Mid-Tier Team Stats
A full list of definitions for the following stats is presented at the bottom of the article.
FlyQuest Team Stats, LCS Spring 2020
LCS Spring 2020 regular season, weeks 1 to 6
The trend that immediately jumps out from these numbers is the mid-tier rankings nearly across the board. In most meaningful team stats, FlyQuest rank between 4th and 6th, with the exception of kill-to-death ratio and mid/late rating. MLR is essentially an extension of win rate (it is the difference between early game rating’s projected win rate and the actual win rate), so K:D is effectively the only statistic where FlyQuest are top 3 in the LCS.
This is one of the rare situations where the numbers paint a very clear and accurate portrait of the team: FlyQuest is an average team with a subpar early game that has been pushing itself over the top with strong team fighting.
FlyQuest’s Early-Game Inconsistencies
The negatives for this team begin in the early game. It’s not surprising to see the FlyQuest roster sit middle-of-the-pack in early-game metrics, given the strengths and weaknesses of their players. V1per, PowerOfEvil, and WildTurtle are all good players, but none of them are known for winning their lanes. The strongest early-game player on the team, historically, is Santorin, and he has been winning his early game head-to-heads very effectively, as usual. His gold+experience difference at 10 minutes (GXD10) is +304, which is second among LCS junglers behind Blaber.
Unfortunately, Santorin’s strong pathing has not helped his laners secure their own advantages, with only PowerOfEvil joining his jungler and support on the positive side of GXD10 at +61, and both V1per (-238) and WildTurtle (-252) tending to fall behind.
In the preseason, I praised FlyQuest when they “replaced Pobelter with a mid laner (PowerOfEvil) whose higher carry potential will have a good chance to shine through if he can benefit from Santorin’s strong pathing.” Santorin has, indeed, helped unlock PowerOfEvil, as has some good roaming play from IgNar. The play of those two facilitators has helped PowerOfEvil upgrade from an above-average LCS mid laner into a legitimate star who boasts the LCS’s highest damage per minute (DPM) at 613 (Bang is a distant second with 588) and highest damage share (36.3%, with Tactical at 32.3% after two games and FBI at 32.2%). PowerOfEvil will probably get some consideration for MVP if FlyQuest don’t completely bomb over the last three weeks, and Santorin and IgNar deserve a good portion of the credit.
But powering up PowerOfEvil is only one piece of the early game, and FlyQuest have been lacking in putting together the full early-game puzzle. They have the LCS’s lowest Herald control (36%) and First Tower rate (33%, tied with Dignitas), resulting in a pedestrian 47.6 EGR (average win probability of 47.6% at 15:00) and causing them to play from behind more often than they would like.
FlyQuest’s Redemptive Team Fighting
Even when they’re playing from behind, FlyQuest have found ways to manufacture wins in the mid/late game, and they’ve typically done it through combat. FlyQuest’s K:D ratio is very impressive, especially in context with the rest of their stats, and they appear to know where their strength lies, opting in to more frequent fights than most teams with a combined kills per minute (CKPM) of 0.65, tied for second-highest in the league with Cloud9.
IgNar is the big driver in this department: on champions like Leona and Rakan, he has been a whirling dervish, flying around the map to make plays and create openings for his carries. His activity on the map begins early, often with roams to mid lane, and it doesn’t slow down later on. IgNar’s KDA of 5.8 is second among LCS supports, behind Vulcan, and he has only a 15.5% death share, third best of LCS supports. IgNar has been exactly the playmaker FlyQuest were hoping for, and he would be my personal pick for team MVP at this point in the season.
FlyQuest’s Shot at Finals
When I projected FlyQuest as the 6th-best team in the LCS during the preseason, I wrote that the most important question was “whether the changes they’ve made will allow them to figure out their mid/late game macro/shotcalling issues.” With IgNar leading the way, FlyQuest have at the very least become more decisive and focused in their mid/late game play, and PowerOfEvil has provided the carry muscle to make good on IgNar’s plays.
Ultimately, though, I don’t believe FlyQuest’s improvements will be enough to reach the Finals unless they find a way to address their early-game weaknesses in the side lanes. But they still have a few weeks to work out that part of their game, and if they make the right tweaks, draw the right opponents in the playoffs, and use their drafts well to emphasize their strengths, there’s a chance IgNar and PowerOfEvil can bring this team all the way.
- GPR: Gold percent rating. Measures the average percent of the game’s total gold held by the team, relative to 50%.
- EGR: Early-game rating. Measures the average probability of winning as of the 15:00 mark of the team’s games.
- MLR: Mid/late rating. Measures the difference between a team’s actual win rate and their expected win rate based on their EGR.
- JNG%: Jungle control. The percentage of all neutral monsters killed that are taken by this team.
- LNE%: Lane control. The percentage of all lane minion kills in the game that were taken by this team. Similar to a ratio of lane CS, but symmetrical.
- DRG%: Dragon control. The percentage of all elemental drakes killed that are taken by this team.
- BN%: Baron control. The percentage of all Barons killed that are taken by this team.