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.