Making Waves is a weekly column series highlighting the best rising League of Legends talent in North America.
When it comes to North American organizations with a solid track record for developing talent, teams like 100 Thieves, Evil Geniuses, TSM and Cloud9 typically come to mind. After one of the most exciting offseasons to date in 2021, however, FlyQuest may be making a push to add their name to that list.
With the signing of former Bethany Lutheran College (Bethany Esports) jungler Ganbat “Yuuji” Ulziidelger and ex-Maryville University mid laner Djalal “Spirax” Djiar to the org’s Academy lineup ahead of 2022, FlyQuest became the most recent org to double-down on collegiate talent in their developmental approach.
“This whole year and half of last year, I was playing with Maryville. And one thing that I’ve learned a lot is how to work together with my teammates,” Spirax said. “I’m ready to play in Academy.”
“I didn’t think about going pro before I came to NA,” Yuuji said. “FlyQuest was running tryouts, I played in it, and they decided to pick me up.”
Yuuji and Spirax were both top performers at the two-week player tryouts FlyQuest held last November. This year, they’ll be looking to make a splash in their debut season competing under the banner of a team associated with the League of Legends Championship Series.
Getting to know Yuuji
Growing up in Mongolia, Yuuji mostly played League of Legends for fun, since he’d frequent over 130 ping on most servers. He enjoyed other hobbies like watching anime, going outdoors and playing games like World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike 1.6.
Yuuji’s brother introduced him to League when he was 13 years old and, after less than two years of playing consistently, he reached Diamond 1 on the NA server while playing with 200 ping from local PC bangs in Mongolia. He eventually started playing on the EUW server, where he hit Challenger for the first time (averaging 150 ping).
“PC bangs usually hosted LAN tournaments,” Yuuji said. “ I always used to win most of them. I think the first time was like 20 dollars for first place.”
Yuuji hit Rank 5 on the server within his first year of moving to North America. Despite playing at a high level for so long, his competitive journey began recently after he first joined Bethany Esports in September of 2021.
“When I joined Bethany Esports, they didn’t have enough players so I had to play support and mid lane for them,” said Yuuji. “I definitely learned all the roles, how you move around the map.”
When Yuuji received an offer from FlyQuest, he told his parents after receiving his contract. They’d always been supportive of his hobbies and interests, and pushed him to do whatever he wants in life, he said. His older brother even helped talk to them and explain the opportunity.
Yuuji takes a lot of inspiration from Weibo Gaming jungler Lê “SofM” Quang Duy in his jungle play. He wants to be remembered as a jungler with good pathing and an aggressive playstyle and holds the former World Championship finalist in high regard for his versatility.
“He plays different from other junglers,” said Yuuji. “He plays for himself. He also farms a lot and invades the enemy jungler. He also plays so many different champs.”
Although jungle is one of the most integral roles to professional play, Yuuji said he doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the pressure to perform. He instead places pressure on himself to improve, in order to play with as much distinction and individuality as world-class junglers like SofM.
“I kind of tried to copy his playstyle, but I think right now I’m just playing what seems right to me.”
The Spirax story
With a few years of competitive experience under his belt already, Spirax feels confident heading into his first season in the Academy League. And he was quick to credit his preparedness to his time at Maryville.
Spirax joined Maryville in fall of 2020. There, he learned how to communicate effectively with his teammates and took on shot-calling responsibilities.
“I think the biggest takeaway I have from playing with Maryville is just how a competitive environment works,” Spirax said. “The only difference between Maryville and Academy, quite frankly, is not having to deal with school.”
The former Lee Sin one-trick grew up as an outdoorsy kid in Quebec, Canada and was introduced to League by his cousins when he was 10 years old, around Season 3. He eventually grew to be better than them at the game and tried his hand at ranked. After placing in Bronze (and swapping one-tricks to Yasuo) and improving by one division a season on average, Spirax eventually reached Masters in Season 6.
“From that point on, I thought I had a pretty good chance to make it pro if I made my champion pool bigger,” said Spirax. “I started playing mages and stuff and I told myself I’d play mid lane because I like how versatile the role is.”
Spirax started watching professional play around Season 4. He said he’s always looked up to the elite mid laners of the world, specifically T1’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Team Liquid’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg.
“[Rasmus “Caps“ Winther”], [Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon], [Heo “ShowMaker” Su], all those players,” said Spirax. “I watch their VODs quite frequently when I’m trying to learn a specific matchup or just trying to learn their habits in general.”
After raking in some impressive placements with Maryville during Proving Grounds in 2021, Spirax was so confident in his ability to complete, he said, that his initial offer from FlyQuest didn’t phase him. He’d felt more than ready for the opportunity because of his collegiate experience. That same experience made his parents more receptive and comfortable with the idea of him going pro, he said.
When Spirax isn’t playing League, he enjoys cooking and eventually plans to cook dinner for his teammates at FlyQuest.
“I can’t cook anything too crazy, but cooking’s simple, honestly,” Spirax said. “There are some hard recipes but a lot of them are easy to follow, for the most part.”
With North American talent under more pressure than ever to perform and stand out, Yuuji and Spirax are motivated to improve and make a name for themselves. With Riot Games putting more resources into the Academy League in 2022 than ever before, they have the perfect opportunity to do so.
“I think the way social media portrays NA talent definitely puts pressure onto young talent to perform,” Spirax said.
“People always say NA is bad and there’s no talent,” said Yuuji. “I think if other players came to NA, they’d just have a mental block against them.”
The first few months at FlyQuest have been full of team meetings and bonding activities (like heading to the movies to watch the new Spider-man film), but with the Academy season less than a week away, things have been in full swing.
Catch Yuuji and Spirax in their LCS Academy debut as they open the season against Dignitas QNTMPAY Academy at 4 p.m. EST on Jan. 19.