Nerd Street sat down with the talented Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black about the past, present and future of his esports life to get a perspective of the man who is dominating League of Legends with FlyQuest right now. Aphromoo hit the scene early on and is still playing at a high level as older players are exiting the league. He’s been going strong with no intention of stopping.
Nerd Street: What’s the story behind the first time you picked up a game?
Aphromoo: I was 4, 5 and my dad brought home a Nintendo 64. And I was playing Mario 64. So that was the first console game I played. And then I think it was a week later, I sold it for a PlayStation. After that we're playing PlayStation most of the time. First computer game though for like online type stuff with PvP was Diablo II.
Nerd Street: When did you realize esports was not only something you can make a career out of, but something that you excelled at?
Aphromoo: I was playing [World of Warcraft] at the time. I went to one of the first Blizzcons, and they had some Alienware tournament they were setting up there. So one of my best friends who I was also playing with, we were pretty good at Arena, graded pretty highly, so we applied for it. We got second place in that tournament, but while I was playing, everybody surrounded the booth and everything. That adrenaline, you know, people cheering and all that, I was like, “wow, that was pretty sick.”
And after that I knew I wanted to try to be in more competitive environments like that. And this was way before League of Legends was even a thing. I had no idea I would have a career like this, but I knew I wanted to compete.
Nerd Street: How did you navigate high stakes competition during your early years?
Aphromoo: Yeah, at the [end] of the day it was all about fun. For me, it still is now. I play games for fun. It just so happens, I'm a pro at League of Legends right now.
Nerd Street: What would you, now present-day Zaq, say to the past you regarding your experience or things that you would have looked out for as you navigated your early career?
Aphromoo: I would say keep having fun and just make your own way.
Nerd Street: We're seeing a shift in age of players in esports as it gets older. So besides having fun, how are you making sure you stay competitive? How are you able to balance the stuff that you do to stay on top of your game?
Aphromoo: I'm still grinding the game as much as I can. Obviously, I've played thousands and thousands of games, so some practice obviously is monotonous. But yeah, grind the game. Before, I didn't really care about the physical care for -- obviously your body and stuff like that -- it was just game, game, game, game. Now, I'm taking more steps towards making sure I get my gym in and give me energy throughout the day, sleeping as much as I can, while also, practicing as much as I can in between all that. So it's not perfect, but it takes some time getting used to.
Nerd Street: So currently, you and your team are doing pretty damn well. Why do you think the team is so successful this year?
Aphromoo: Yeah, we've got a lot of talent on our team. Everybody's a grinder. We're always talking to each other, we really enjoy the game. I would say everybody enjoys each other's company. And yeah, just a really good environment all around. And we actually have the most solid Champions Queue, pretty much just like practice games of any team right now. And you know, it just shows it in the standings. So we just gotta keep it up.
Nerd Street: Which teams in the league do you think are the most challenging right now?
Aphromoo: The teams in the league I think are most challenging? Team Liquid, very good. Spent the most money [and] got the biggest name players all over the place. So those guys are really nice. Other than that, obviously, I think 100 Thieves are pretty good. They should pick it up you know, in the middle of the end of the season, and then other than that Evil Geniuses, I guess.
Nerd Street: What's your future plans to expand your brand? Or what goals do you have in 2022?
Aphromoo: It's important to release content. [I] just got to get situated. It's obviously hard to balance both while you're practicing at the same time trying to stream, maybe YouTube, TikTok and post as much as you can. It’s rough, but I got help with some of my team -- editors and stuff like that. So that's work in progress. Obviously, once I'm done playing, I can do more.
Goals for this year? Definitely help make playoffs for FlyQuest. I want to win in particular. So I know they haven't been in the playoffs for a while. So that's my goal right now.
Photo by: Tina Jo / Riot Games via ESPAT