Despite rocky LCS debut, Eyla heading to LCS playoffs with FlyQuest

by Brian Bencomo

Heading into the League Championship Series spring split, expectations were high for FlyQuest. With two proven LCS veterans, two star South Korean imports and an exciting rookie, the team was picked by many to finish atop the LCS.

Three weeks into the season, the team was 6-0 and smashing teams and had fans dreaming of a potential 18-0 season. Just one thing was missing -- the exciting rookie, Bill “Eyla” Nguyen.

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The Australian support, who had played at the academy level for Team Liquid the past couple seasons, was waiting for his visa. While Kim "Winsome" Dong-keon filled in, all Eyla could do was watch and wait.

“Watching the team from afar was very tough,” Eyla told Nerd Street. “You kind of are powerless. You can’t improve while you’re away, you’re just playing solo queue, and the quality is not that good. You aren’t able to practice a lot of the things you should be practicing.”

In addition to watching the team’s games, Eyla also watched the team’s scrims to make sure he was as prepared as possible once he rejoined the team.

FlyQuest take a bow after a win. Photo credit: Riot Games

It wasn’t until Week 5 that he was finally able to join the team. The transition hasn’t been seamless. Rather than continuing to run away with first place, FlyQuest recently lost two games in a row and have looked less dominant lately.

“It’s a rocky path so far, my integration into the team, but I thought this week our practice got a lot better, so I was expecting us to play way better on stage,” Eyla said after the team’s second loss in a row during Week 7.

The second loss in a row was particularly tough for Eyla who was hoping to beat his former teammates on Team Liquid. While he got signed by FlyQuest in the offseason, Sean "Yeon" Sung and Harry "Haeri" Kang got promoted from Team Liquid Academy to the organization’s LCS team in the offseason.

“This was my first time facing them on the enemy team so I was actually really excited,” he said. “I really wanted to beat them, but I think they played well today so they deserved to win.”

Read more: LCS 2023 rookies: Players who got promoted from LCS Academy

Playoffs and MSI on the horizon

Suffice it to say, Eyla’s LCS debut has been less than ideal. It’s not that Eyla has played badly. The entire team has performed poorly in the early game of late. Eyla noted the team has played sloppily, giving away free kills and falling behind early.

Still, FlyQuest are in an enviable position heading into the last week of the split. They are tied for first and will face fellow first-place team Cloud9 to kick off Week 8. Their spot in the playoffs is secure, and if they beat Cloud9, they’ll have an inside track on claiming the top seed in the LCS heading into the spring playoffs.

At this point, FlyQuest and Cloud9 are the favorites to represent North America at the Mid-Season Invitational, the first international League of Legends tournament of the year. With North America and other major regions getting two spots at MSI this year, FlyQuest’s chances of going to London for MSI are high.

It’s still too early for Eyla to give himself the luxury of really thinking about competing at his first international event. Eyla, who used to play in Oceania, almost played internationally in 2020 when he was one series win away from going to the League of Legends World Championship.

“I’ve had glancing thoughts, but I don’t focus on it too much,” Eyla said. “If we get there, then we deserve to be there, but first we have to focus on the now because every day practice is hard and I have a lot to catch up on, so I don’t focus on it too much.”

Prince shows off his Player of the Week trophy. Photo credit: Riot Games

One player who might help carry FlyQuest to London is Lee "Prince" Chae-hwan, who looked like an MVP candidate early in the season. Halfway through the spring split, Prince was one of two players who still had a double digit KDA. Prince, who’s FlyQuest’s AD carry, happens to be Eyla’s lane partner in the bot lane, so the Australian support has gotten to know the Korean carry very well.

In addition to spectacular play, Prince has displayed an engaging personality and bravado despite still learning English.

“I don’t think I’ve had a teammate like that in my whole career,” Eyla said. “So a lot of learning, like trying to understand what he wants from me, dealing with a different type of personality. It’s very interesting, very fun at times and also very hard because he expects so much and he wants me to play really well.”

Eyla played well enough to win the Worlds season of Champions Queue last year, so the potential is there for world-class play in FlyQuest’s bot lane going forward. London awaits the best two teams in the LCS, and Eyla and FlyQuest could very well be there in a couple months.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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