FLY Solo: “I Think the Perception of NA Teams at Worlds Is Becoming Overstated”
Colin “Solo” Earnes t has been in and around the League of Legends scene in North America for the past 6 years since starting for Zenith Esports. He bounced around from team to team, before successful stints on Clutch Gaming, Echo Fox, and now FlyQuest once Echo Fox went defunct and sold their spot to Evil Geniuses.
He’s had one of the best years of his career, with finals appearances in two consecutive splits now, and now his first League of Legends Worlds appearance is about to go down in Shanghai later this year with FlyQuest. But first, Solo and his team will have to take on the winner of Team Liquid vs Team SoloMid for their shot at the team’s first NA LCS title.
Esports Talk had the opportunity to chat with Solo about his League of Legends career, the redemption arc for FlyQuest, and how he feels North American teams will stack up this year at Worlds.
FlyQuest’s Top Laner Breaks Down the Team’s Redemption Arc
Dustin Steiner, Esports Talk: Your team has performed probably one of the largest team turnarounds, just as a brand, in recent LCS history. How’s it feel to change community perception around the team?
Colin “Solo” Earnest, Top Lane for Flyquest: I think that the players and the coaching staff have obviously done a good job by winning games cause that’s always important. But I do think a lot of the turnaround of Flyquest has been because of our media people and CEO Tricia and GM Nick Phan. I think Treequest and Seaquest were both amazing, really smart ways to re-brand. I think that’s gotten us a lot of fans as well as winning games. I think that’s probably one of the biggest reasons we’ve become this new brand that people wanna get behind.
Steiner: Were you on board with the initiative from the start or did it take some convincing for you to get on board?
Solo: I think it’s awesome. I obviously wasn’t there at the beginning of Treequest, but from the outside I thought this was a smart idea and a cool cause. They planted like 10,000 trees – that was just so smart. That’s just how straightforward it was, it seems obvious, but it’s great and they’ve done a lot of work for the coral reef and I think it’s tremendous how well it’s been integrated.
Steiner: What’s been the biggest challenge for you personally this year?
Solo: Biggest challenge? I think that not having a team at the beginning of this year was definitely a challenge. [laughs] I think just trying to stay focused and wait for an opportunity was definitely one of the harder things. But I got really lucky with Flyquest and Nick Phan, they were able to pick me up and it all worked out.
Steiner: This year has been the most productive year in your career so far — how’s it feel to finally get to go to Worlds this year and what are you hoping to learn from the experience?
Solo: It feels like it makes sense to a certain extent. I think after Echo Fox, this year, I was ready to play for a team to compete for a Worlds spot, to compete for a Championship. And even though it happened in such a weird way, at the end of the day, it ended up the way that I thought made a lot of sense. So, I’m glad that I was able to start playing with purpose and a sense of consequence.
As far as going to Worlds, I think that experience is going to be worthwhile and I think it’ll be really important to my growth as a player. I’m excited to just take it day to day there and play the best I can.
Steiner: NA teams have been a mixed bag at Worlds. Do you think that’ll be different this year, and what do you think is usually the cause of that?
Solo: I’m not sure if it’ll be different. Obviously, I hope that we do really well. But, it’s always hard to predict how regions are going to match up against each other. So I wouldn’t put that much stock in predictions. I think we’re a good team, we’re good at adapting, game planning, and we have really good individual players, so I think we have a shot versus anyone in the tournament.
As far as NA falling apart, I think that the perception of NA at Worlds is becoming overstated. I think that people are forgetting about some of the successes we’ve had. I understand that we haven’t made the finals or won it but at the end of the day we are a smaller region, in terms of player base and in terms of the pool we have. I think that LCS is probably objectively just slightly weaker than most of the other regions. I would attribute it to something like how the US is viewed in World Cup competition, there’s always a chance to win and do really well but at the end of the day they are at a slight disadvantage in what they have available.
I think we’ll do the best we can and people’s perception of it will be what it is, and we’ll go from there.
Steiner: What do you think the impact has been of playing online matches vs on LAN at the LCS studio? Do you think the year would have played out differently?
Solo: I think I’d be remiss in saying it wouldn’t. I think there would have been slight differentiations, but I’m not sure that overall it would have mattered. Just because there are stage nerves for some players, some players definitely benefited from playing from their facilities or at home, being in a more comfortable difference. I’m not sure it would have made a Worlds difference, in which teams go, or if the placing would have changed. I’m sure that some of the young or inexperienced players wouldn’t have performed as well. I think you can maybe try to make that argument, but even so, everyone had the same challenges of playing remotely, so I don’t think that really changes how the split should be viewed.
Steiner: Are there any champions you hope become meta for Worlds?
Solo: [pauses and thinks for a long time] I think I’d like to see Gnar get a little stronger because I love him. He’s a fringe pick and has played a bit in the LPL so it’s not that far off. it’s really close to being definitively meta and I enjoy him, so I’d say Gnar.