Humbly Confident: A Sit-down with Quantic’s Hai

I approached Hai long ago for an interview because I thought he and his team had one of the best—or worst—stories in eSports at the time. Orbit was an up-and-coming LoL team in a North American scene full of new (or newly-recognizable) names. Those names included names attached on to the greats—such as TSM.Evo and CLG.Black—and names standing completely independently. Orbit was one of the latter, and they somehow stood out from the crowd.

On the eve of what seemed to be their chance to truly break out, Orbit—the organization—crumbled. The people at the top were MIA, and funding for the team went with them. Hai and his teammates were crowd-funded to their next event (only a couple weeks away when this all went down) through Reddit. Afterward, the team seemed to catch a much-deserved break and were signed by a major name in eSports—Quantic Gaming. But only two weeks into their new relationship, Quantic announced financial difficulties and dropped almost all of their players—including Hai’s team.

Now, months later and in the wake of a string of victories, Hai and co. are back with Quantic and looking to a future of opportunities with the first LCS season currently wrapping up.

Gilean: Hai, thanks for taking some time to sit down and answer some questions for the fans.

The first thing that might stand out is that your team has gone through quite a few changes in name, but—for a while, at least—not many in roster.  Your team went from Orbit, to crowd-funding through Reddit, to Quantic, to NomNom & Cloud 9, and now back to Quantic. It wasn’t until your team was unable to qualify for LCS that any of the members departed. What kept your team together through so many challenges?

Hai: Well, the name changes weren’t really a big deal, [since] we were only ever under two organizations even though we had many name changes. Our team was always confident in each other, and we just had problems with sponsors is all.

Gilean: What about for you personally? Reginald (Captain and Mid-laner for TSM) stated after Season 2 that he was done with eSports, despite the fact TSM was clearly one of the top teams in all of North America. Of course, he recanted the statement within days. But you’ve never even hinted at quitting, from what I’ve seen. What’s driving you? 

Hai: Hmm, I imagine I’ll quit if I don’t qualify this time around. I would have quit last time if I was able to go back to school, but I didn’t have anything ready for that.

Gilean: What were your thoughts when your former teammates Nientonsoh and WildTurtle headed to the LCS and joined up with Team MRN and TSM, respectively? Has their gameplay surprised you at all on their new teams?

Hai: Not really. I already knew Nien would be starter for Marn eventually when we joined them, and for Wildturtle I was a bit surprised that they actually used him. I was happy that they decided to pick him up as starter though and encouraged him to join them.

Gilean: Could you tell us a little bit about your relationship with Quantic? For those who don’t know, Quantic was the next major organization to pick up your team—after the disappointing events surrounding Orbit—only to ironically drop most of its own players and teams (including yours) within two weeks due to a financially-forced restructuring. What gives you faith in Quantic now?

Hai: Hmm. Quantic had a great offer for us this time around, and, even though they died once because of poor decisions, I’m hoping they learned their lesson this time around

Gilean: Cloud 9 was a team that consisted of your teammates and lacked the backing of any major eSports organization. How was your team able to survive as “Indie Competitors” until your recent re-signing?

Hai: Well there wasn’t really any expenses as a team that we needed, so it didn’t matter that we weren’t sponsored.

Gilean: Despite not making it into the LCS, your team has seen a lot of success since the qualifiers, even with new members. You beat Dignitas within weeks of the qualifiers, and recently took first place over Curse Academy and Dignitas at the MLG Winter Championships. How has your skill and teamwork grown since the qualifiers?

Hai: Our gameplay and style has significantly changed since the roster changes and of me role swapping. I was very limited in my skill as a Jungler. I wasn’t terrible, but I was skill capped since it wasn’t the role I was meant for. With me switching to Mid and getting a new Top Laner/Jungler, our entire play style has changed, and I think we are significantly better now.

Gilean: Finally, looking ahead, what are you doing to ensure you’ll be ready for the next LCS season? And what happens if you’re unable to qualify once again?

Hai: We’re practicing a lot every day and working on our synergy, staying confident but humble in our ability and just doing everything we can to be ready for it this time around. In the case we fail, I’ll probably move back and attend college again with my GF.

Gilean: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk. Any final thoughts or shout-outs you’d like to make?

Hai: No problem at all, thanks for the interview. Feel free to follow me @hai_l9, thanks!

[Gilean is an independent eSports content producer who is begging for your attention! Every follower he gains @HHGilean is another incentive to bring you more interviews, articles, and features.

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Gnomesayin–Team FeaR’s Manager Talks Season 3, New Coach, and Gargamel’s Secrets

Gilean: First off, thank you, Christina Laird (GnomeSayin), manager of Team FeaR, for taking the time to answer some questions for the community. I imagine things are just now starting to settle down after the excitement of qualifying weekend.

Most of us who’ve been around eSports for a while (especially MLG) are familiar with the term “coach.” But what does a team manager do? Do you fill a role essentially the same as a coach, or something closer to the business side of thing with an organization?

Gnomesayin: I definitely don’t fill the same role as a coach, or have any input in picks/bans/strategies. Basically, a coach’s role is to make sure everything IN the game goes smoothly, my role is to make sure everything OUTSIDE of the game goes smoothly so the players can focus on the first part.

Gilean: Furthermore, what drew you to the role of team manager at a time in eSports where most people would be hard-pressed to even state what the job entails?

Gnomesayin: I think that I just wanted to be involved, to be honest. It could have been esports journalism (if I didn’t suck at writing), it could have been working in events, or even helping players increase their profiles. I just really wanted to do something involved in competitive gaming, and I think the best offer I got was to manage, and I grew to love the team.

Gilean: What originally drew you to this team? Or were they drawn to you? And how long have you been working together?

Gnomesayin: The thing that drew me to the team was, I knew they were talented, and they asked. [*laughs*] Curtoky (who was their support player at the time) asked me to manage, and I said, “Sure.” They offered me the position at the exact time I was like, “I need to get into this competitive league thing!” so that was perfect. I barely knew any of them at first, and I was pretty intimidated, which seems really weird now looking back.  It’s been about a year now, and I can’t think of a less intimidating bunch of guys. (I am thinking. I seriously can’t.)

Gilean: A couple roster changes have occurred while you’ve been with this team. What do Sycho Sid (Top) [Now, allegedly, Sycho Squid] and Zuna (AD) bring to their roles that was missing with Balls (Top) and Aphromoo (AD)? Are there are new challenges with these two?

Gnomesayin: Roster changes. Hm. I really love Benny, he’s da best! And Zuna has been with us before when we were MTW, for a little while, so we are already very comfortable with him.  But, to be honest, we need more time with the new roster to really become as beast as we need to be. But with Benny and Zuna, they bring a lot of communication across the map, they talk amongst themselves as well as to us, and I think that was something missing before. The challenges for me personally with those players is, with benny, he’s a rascal and mischevious and keeps trying to get me to teach him Scottish. And with Zuna, sometimes I have to mute mumble if he gets loud or gross.

Gilean: Playing to qualify for Season 3 looked to be a formidable and intimidating gauntlet even from the safety of our own chairs at home, and I can hardly imagine what it was like to play under that sort of pressure. But do you think anything positive will come from this experience? In other words, could this have been a sort of “trial-by-fire” that will help lesser experienced teams be prepared to take on the likes of TSM, CLG, and Dignitas in a tournament setting?

Gnomesayin: The qualifiers for season 3 were great LAN experience for any teams that haven’t taken part in something like that before. It’s great for the scene. Not great for us, because it’s better if we’re one of the few teams prepared for LANS! [*laughs*]

Gilean: The casters were quick to mention that members of Meat Playground and Team FeaR were quite friendly with each other. Balls, a member of Meat Playground, is the former long-time teammate of MuffinQT, Xmithie, and MandatoryCloud. What else don’t we know about the history between these two teams? Did playing the in the qualifiers present any unique obstacles?

Gnomesayin: Man, I hated playing against Balls and Lemongod when we were playing Meat Playground. It sucks, because they are good friends of the team, and we were hoping we’d both get through. Hmm. What don’t you know about the history of both teams? Well, Atlanta created both of the teams, Goose (which became FeaR) and Meat Playground, too.

[Editor’s note: Atlanta is on neither of these teams anymore.]

Gilean: Have you heard anything on the future of the Meat Playground roster? Any chance we could see Balls or another member return to Team FeaR as a sub for Season 3?

Gnomesayin: I know what’s happening to some of the Meat Playground members, but I don’t know what parts are secrets and what parts are public, so you’ll probably see the members here and there scattered on different rosters for a while.  For our subs, though, we’re trying to pick people based in California so we don’t have to pay much to get them to Santa Monica (we’re really cheap), and I don’t think Balls would quit school to come to Cali, anyway, even though he’d be a really good sub.

Gilean: What does not making it into Season 3 mean for other eSports teams? Is it worth it for them to continue competing elsewhere? Or should the individual players be keeping their eyes peeled for substitute positions?

Gnomesayin: It’s really disappointing to not make it into Season 3 for other teams. I’m sure we’d have been devastated if we hadn’t made it through. But when you really think about it, Season 3 is a big plus and it takes up ALL the time of the eight top teams, so if you just barely missed out on Season 3, you’re now one of the Top 8 teams at MLG/IPL/ any tournaments that aren’t Riot related, so you’re making a lot more money than you were previously. So although it sucks, I think it’s really worth sticking with your team or getting a really talented team to compete elsewhere.

Gilean: After Team FeaR qualified for Season 3, you were thinking about stepping down from your position, despite having helped your team accomplish a feat every LoL team out there was striving for. Why were you thinking about leaving, and what did you and Team FeaR ultimate decide on in the end? And can you tell us a little about this new coach who’ll be coming in, and how your duties will differ and be divided up between the two of you?

Gnomesayin: As Season 3 was incoming, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to live in the house with the team, and that would be a hindrance. But, also, the team decided we needed a coach, and I guess Zuna’s brother, Kenma, is going to take that position. We haven’t really talked about exactly how we’re going to divide duties between us yet—that’s still to be decided, but we’ll figure it out!

I’d like to thank you for coming on and giving us a fresh perspective on the LoL scene and some great (and eagerly anticipated) information on Team FeaR. Best of luck in Season 3!

To keep updated on Team FeaR’s activity’s, you can follow Christina “Gnomesayin” Laird on Twitter @FeaRGnomesayin.

 [Gilean is an independent eSports content producer who is begging for your attention! Every follower he gains @HHGilean is another incentive to bring you more interviews, articles, and features.]