How FlyQuest is helping toucouille follow in Bjergsen’s footsteps
by Nick Geracie
In the six months since his League Championship Series debut, FlyQuest mid laner Loïc "toucouille" Dubois has established himself as one of the best mid laners in the league. However, when considering his inspiration as a professional League of Legends player, it’s clear that he has only begun to achieve what he has set out to do as a competitor.
“I was watching some documentary or something about Bjergsen’s career and life and it was really inspiring for me -- the little kid that was socially awkward and had some trouble making friends at school became an LCS superstar,” toucouille said. “It was really inspiring for me at the time. I'm so happy that, five years down the road, I'm playing in this league, playing against him … it motivates me even more to go to the next level and be one of the best LCS mid laners.”
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Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg’s past may come as a surprise to the modern-day LCS fan given his current reputation. The ever-confident, well-spoken Team Liquid mid laner has won six LCS titles (second only to Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng’s eight) and is widely considered the greatest to ever compete in the LCS. Multiple players in the LCS throughout the years have pointed toward Bjergsen’s leadership as a pivotal point in their own careers, but in his youth, Bjergsen was relentlessly bullied to the point of being pulled out of school in eighth grade after being socially ostracized.
Bjergsen invested his extra time in League of Legends and made his EU LCS debut with Copenhagen Wolves in the summer of 2013. He was signed by TSM before the 2014 NA LCS season and the rest is history.
Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games via ESPAT
For toucouille, Bjergsen isn’t just an inspiration due to his level of play, but because of what he overcame to compete at a high level and, crucially, how he grew as a person throughout that experience.
“It wasn't easy in school. I was bullied both physically and mentally, and gradually I began to lose all interest to go to school,” Bjergsen recalled in an interview with Danish publication Berlingske in 2016.
To say the obstacles toucouille has had to overcome to progress in his career are unusual would be an understatement. It wasn’t just social difficulties; the FlyQuest mid laner has Osteogenesis imperfecta, or, in layman’s terms, brittle bone disease. The condition can result in an individual developing differently formed bones and bones that can break relatively easily.
How FlyQuest has created a welcoming team environment
None of these factors deterred FlyQuest from pursuing toucouille, even after his team GameWard finished outside of EU Masters qualification in the 2021 Ligue Française de League of Legends (LFL) season. He was named the 2021 LFL spring split MVP and was the sole bright spot on a continuously struggling GW squad.
“Loic has been on our list for a couple of years now. We've had our eye on him; he's been part of our scouting reports,” said FlyQuest general manager Nick Phan. “We do our own databases and stuff like that internally. He's been in our database for a couple of years.”
FlyQuest jungler Brandon Joel “Josedeodo” Villegas’ natural synergy with toucouille has been well-documented, but that doesn’t mean a seamless transition to the LCS was guaranteed. Team bonding is vital to competitive synergy, and when players are shipping themselves halfway across the world into a new environment, success is far from easy to achieve.
Phan knew that FlyQuest had a special talent on their hands that would require the right approach to properly integrate.
“Our first thing was that we had to accept that this is a kid coming in with the conditions that he has,” the FlyQuest GM explained. “Brittle bone disease is not something that is easy to live with, let alone treat, let alone bring into a team and expect other people to kind of like form around.
If I'm going to bring my boys out, and I want to do a gym day, or I want to do an exercise day or a field day, like those are really good ways to get boys to be boys. We had to accept that those things weren't available to us in the same ways. So we had to be a little creative.”
Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games via ESPAT
To an outsider, the importance of out-of-game social activities may seem trivial for a competitive League of Legends team, but it can be the difference between a roster collapsing or persevering through inevitably arduous stretches of the season.
“When things are going well, it's easy to talk about League of Legends all the time. 24/7,” Phan said. “But if you're in a string of losses -- you know, going on a 10-loss streak like we did in 2021 -- it's hard to continue to talk about League of Legends. Sometimes, you need to tune that sound out.”
Read more: ‘Make people happy’: Everything FlyQuest CEO Tricia Sugita has done derives from one goal
With most sports and roller coasters off the menu for toucouille, FlyQuest have made sure to facilitate team activities that were more inclusive and able to be enjoyed by all members of the squad. Fortunately, FlyQuest are big fans of pingpong -- and toucouille is among the best in the organization.
“How do we get these guys exposed to just life outside of the computer screen? That’s always a thing that’s at the top of our mind,” Phan said.
This isn’t to say that FlyQuest has given toucouille particularly special treatment. After all, the French mid laner chose to join the team after hearing from multiple players about how well the organization treats their talent. It’s undeniable that toucouille may face more challenges than the average LCS player off of Summoner’s Rift, but FlyQuest have made it a priority to prepare their players for more than just competitive play well before signing him.
“I think Loic definitely feels love from all of us because I think it's so much of our emphasis to make sure that every single player has attention, and not just from a work perspective,” Phan said. “We want our guys to be developing not just as better players but as better humans. We put forth the initiative to make sure that these guys get to experience certain things in life. I'm not going to just book him a dentist appointment, I'm going to show him what it looks like to look for his insurance.”
Toucouille rising to the top of the LCS
So far, FlyQuest have helped toucouille reach new heights as a competitor and put him an environment to feel comfortable growing as a person. The Frenchman was named to the second all-pro team of the 2022 LCS spring split. Halfway through the summer split, he’s top three among mid laners in KDA ratio, gold differential at 10 minutes, experience differential at 10 minutes, CS per minute and percentage of team damage, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic for toucouille this summer isn’t how he’s helping FlyQuest win games, but how he’s almost never the reason they lose games. Despite a 5-4 record for FlyQuest, toucouille has only averaged one death per game -- a league-leading statistic tied only by Bjergsen.
Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games via ESPAT
Despite a tough loss to Evil Geniuses in Team Liquid’s most recent match, Bjergsen couldn’t help but let a smile slip when being told toucouille was inspired by him.
“It always makes me feel good when I hear that I've inspired someone in some way. I think that's what being an ‘influencer’ really is, I guess,” the TL mid laner pondered. “I think that's a positive way I can really affect people's lives. I'm sure people enjoy watching me play and enjoy when I make plays, but the lasting impact is when you really inspire someone by what you say, what you do, or your work ethic. It always makes me really happy when I hear nice stuff like that.”
With less than a season of LCS competition under his belt, toucouille is well aware he has plenty more to learn if he wants to follow in Bjergsen’s footsteps.
“I think I've always been pretty good at teamfighting. There are some flanking champions that I am not an expert at, so I'm trying to work on those. Macro-wise, I feel like I've actually improved a lot during MSI. I was watching a lot of MSI games -- a lot of RNG games -- and I think I learned a lot of macro from them.”
“I'm trying to continue to improve my laning phase because I think I can do way better. Those are my plans for the future of becoming an LCS superstar,” the FlyQuest mid laner said through a laugh.
It is far too early to tell if toucouille is destined for LCS superstardom like Bjergsen, but it’s hard to imagine he could have had a better start in the past six months than he has on FlyQuest.
Lead photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games via ESPAT