This is Team Fusion, a new up-and-comer in the challenger scene. The team’s roster was officially announced via twitter on October 23rd and quickly set the community abuzz with the daring lineup.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the team and its owner Veyloris to discuss the team’s beginnings and their chances in the upcoming expansion tournament. Here are their thoughts:
Jungle – Nintendude
Name: Josh “Nintendude” Atkins
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
You mentioned in First Blood that you got flown out first class. How would you compare that experience to how you’ve been treated by other organizations in the past?
Flying first class was an experience I won’t soon forget… Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to flying coach ever again.
Fusion has treated me so well ever since I first had talks with them about their desire for me to play for them… In fact the talks were going so well I was kind of sketched out.
There are quite a few organizations in the challenger scene that make promises they can’t keep or just flat out lie to try and suck people in. So far Fusion has made me feel very comfortable and I feel like a part of a family here.
Obviously we don’t want to give away too many secrets, but are we going to be seeing any jungle Leona-type pocket picks?
Something I hear a lot when my name is brought up as a jungler is that people really miss the surprise picks, even if they aren’t so successful (the jungle Leona definitely comes to mind here). I can’t promise any crazy picks, but I am trying to re-channel myself onto some of the positives that made me a great jungler in the past, and theory-crafting new stuff is definitely part of that.
Are you starting to build strong synergy with any player in particular?
As much as I love Huhi and am looking forward to building more synergy with him, I feel like my synergy with Gleeb is getting really good. Support and Jungle coordinate on most of the vision control and so far it has been going well.
He doesn’t hesitate when I ask him to do something and I give him that same respect when he needs me to do something. It’s not always easy to see jungle-support synergy, but it feels very noticeable when playing with Gleeb.
Mid – HuHi
Name: Jae-Hyun “HuHi” Choi
Hometown: Paris, France. South Korea
Your teammates are all well-known names in the NA scene. Do you think that their popularity will help take the pressure off of you?
Not really. Only because if I don’t play well, i’ll still be disappointing myself, which is more important to me than what the fans think.
What are the biggest differences you notice between Korea and NA?
The solo queue experiences definitely differ hugely. In Korea, players are a lot more calculated, whereas in America, games are more exciting.
People like to take more risks and don’t play so precisely and safe. People are willing to take big risks, which can be a good or a bad thing.
Does it help to have a Korean coach? Do you think he understands your playstyle better?
Korean coaches are far more focused on improving Korean players skills, whereas my experience with North American coaches so far, they’ve been focusing more on making sure I’m well acclimated to being in the house and working with my team. In this case, I think that’s better, since I was definitely able to start playing at full capacity faster, since I was comfortable so quickly.
AD Carry – Nien
Name: Zach “Nien” Malhas
The last time you played AD was with Team MRN about a year and a half ago. Are you still as confident in the position as you were then?
I’m not nearly as confident as I used to be as an AD, though I am 100% confident that I can become even better than I once was, I am going to be the best AD in the world.
Has working with Doublelift allowed you to gain additional insight into the position?
Playing with Double has given me some additional insight into bot lane most definitely, though not nearly as much as I would’ve expected. I was a lot closer in skill level to him than I had thought before joining CLG.
Have you learned anything in top lane that you can bring back down to the duo lane?
I’ve improved a lot in various aspects of play from top lane, but in 1v1 dueling, split pushing, as well as map and jungle awareness most specifically.
How is the synergy with Gleeb coming along?
The synergy with Gleeb is coming along alright, we have some different ideas about certain things but we’re improving and I think we can be very solid.
Support – Gleebglarbu
Name: Nicolas “Gleebglarbu” Haddad
Hometown: Agoura Hills, California
Do you feel like you’re fitting in well with the new setup, team and management?
I’m really enjoying the new setup, team and management. The house is currently a bit cramped because we have the whole support staff living with us, but everyone is easy to get along with and very motivated.
I really like the team, in and out of game. Their personalities mesh well with mine and I feel that it’s really easy to communicate with them. We joke around a lot outside of the game but when we play we treat it like our job.
How to do you think Noblesse and Veyloris stack up to your previous experiences?
Management has been incredibly professional, similar to TSM/C9T, which I really like.
Fusion knows how to set up a team and provide us with all the tools we need to succeed which helps relieve stress off of me and the rest of the team.
Many would say there is a lot to prove after the previous criticisms while on TSM, do you feel like your time away from the scene has helped?
I feel like my short time away from the scene has helped me greatly. I began meeting with a psychiatrist and therapist on a regular basis and began taking prescription medication to deal with anxiety and sleeping issues. I still play League of Legends 12+ hours most days but I am in a much better place mentally and I’m better prepared to deal with the stress of pro gaming.
Will you be playing as Gleeb or Gleebglarbu?
I will be playing as Gleebglarbu. This is the ID I’ve used in every tournament until I joined TSM and was asked to abbreviate it. Realistically, the ID you play with is not important but I am quite fond of my name “Gleebglarbu”. It’s also enjoyable to see how many different ways it can be pronounced wrong.
Yoon “MakNooN” Ha-woon will play Top for Team Fusion, but has not yet joined the team at their gaming house.
Arrival Date ~ 1st November
Well-known Challenger players BeeSin and Chunky will also be joining the team as subs, this is what they had to say about their experience:
Name: Keaton “BeeSin” Cryer
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
How does one train to be a sub? Are you an understudy to a particular role or do you play as a generalist?
Training as a sub is basically the same as training like a team member. We both seek to improve our champion pools and practice the Meta champs. Waking up the same time as the team, eating with them, practicing the same amount of hours with them and learning with the team.
I would be studying top lane mostly, if not strictly. I would be learning under Maknoon and practicing with him and against him. I love watching over replays and VODs, so watching his replays would be a treat.
What do you hope to learn from being a sub for Team Fusion?
I want to improve my champion pool and improve as a player in general, which I think is the most important for any player. Maknoon is one of the few top laners I looked up to in terms of play, so learning under him is a treat.
What was it like being picked up out of Challenger? Dream come true of the next step in your career?
Surreal. I helped get some of the members on the team and actually make it a ‘thing’, not thinking about myself being a player for the team, let alone a sub.
That’s when they asked me if I’d like to be an in-house sub, which is a dream any/most gamers have. As far as whether it’s a dream come true or the next step, it’s a bit of both. It’s a dream come true to be able to move out to Cali and play.
Hopefully it’s the next step in my career in terms of player development and growth. I want this to be my career while I’m still young and I plan on making it a reality.
Name: Joshua “Chunky” Kesrawani
How does one train to be a sub? Are you an understudy to a particular role, or do you play as a generalist?
I train by analyzing games and picking up on stuff I’m missing in a team environment, mostly focused on mid lane.
What do you hope to learn from being a sub for Team Fusion?
How to communicate better with your teammates and how to ready myself to be part of LCS one day.
What was it like being picked up out of Challenger? Dream come true of the next step in your career?
I never really got any good offers in challenger so when I got contacted by magic I was really interested and shocked. This will definitely be the next step in my career – learning a lot from the coaches and the players!
After discussions with the individual players, we gathered to discuss the team as a whole:
How have you found the transition from 5 individual players to 1 cohesive team?
Nintendude: Speaking for myself, Gleeb, and Nien – we’ve all bounced around teams before. We all know what it takes to be the best. It’s been an easy transition so far, but there’s a lot of work be done.
BeeSin/Chunky: For us, the transition has been pretty easy. It’s a little awkward meeting everyone at the start, but after that, it’s just natural.
Have there been any issues with a language barrier?
Only a little bit, mostly with shotcalling. HuHi’s English is good enough for conversation but NA specific slang like “cheese”, “end” or even just “b” are things that go over his head.
In-game, it’s faster and the language is a lot more compressed. There’s some language barrier just because of the speed of communication needed. In the moment, it’s somewhat hard sometimes, but out of game for team-wide discussions, it’s been very easy and natural.
Building synergy is something that takes a lot of time, what have you done to try to overcome this for the expansion tournament?
We’ve played 40 games in 4-5 days in ranked 5s. It’s a long grind to just work on it, but we’re basically just spending a lot of time together. There’s a lot of team bonding we’re all doing together. People going to the gym together, eating together and that sort of thing.
It’s really just about spending time together in everything we do.
In your experience is building synergy from scratch easier or harder than rebuilding synergy when one or two members join the team?
Gleeb: It’s a lot easier with new people. Having a basic slate to start everyone building synergy with is easy.
Team: When MakNooN comes, we think it’ll be a little weird. Bee Sin has been filling the role top and he’s been playing a lot with us. We’ve built a fair amount of synergy over the past few days through the raw amount of games. On the other hand, MakNooN is an excellent player with excellent ethic.
We think the amount of time he’ll be able to work with us is huge. For example, HuHi came into the house and immediately started solo queuing. That sort of ethic has helped him build the synergy so far and with MakNooN, it should be the same.
There are some big names on the team with a lot of competitive experience, how are you planning on keeping any potential egos in check?
Coaching staff. Having coaches helps to stop there from being a Lord of the Flies situation. There’s always a mediator and someone with authority to overrule any ego discussions.
Everyone should always respect the coaches and always having a ‘neutral’ authority in the team in the house helps to defuse those situations. Having the coaches and staff in the house help, since they can stop small problems from blowing up with their experience.
What sort of reactions have you had from stream viewers and fans?
Everyone seems very hyped and we seem to already have a fan base.
People are really wanting to wait and see MakNooN play again before getting too behind the team but in general, there’s been a ton of hype. Nien being ADC and MakNooN coming to NA are huge. People have always wanted to see that and now that it’s happening on the same team, it’s huge. I’m sure it’ll be bigger after we start winning some games.
In addition to a star-studded lineup, Team Fusion is also bringing in a brand new support staff. Here are their thoughts on the team and the upcoming expansion tournament:
Name: Raymond “Noblesse” Oh
Hometown: Chicago, California, Korea
Position: Head Coach
Why did you choose Team Fusion?
Choosing Team Fusion was really a big life change for me – being a coach, or even a pro player wasn’t really my goal in life anymore.
Everything started with me just helping them find players but when they realized they needed a head coach, I was certainly willing to jump into the role. The timing was certainly convenient – I previously had taught English in Korea for large companies, and I was between contracts for doing so.
I wouldn’t have necessarily done something like this on short notice for any team, but I was fortunate to help put the team together and I knew the staff personally. After seeing what the coaches and Alden had been able to achieve together so far, I knew I could be a part of creating something great.
Most fans from NA aren’t going to know who you are right away. Do you intend to stay behind the scenes or are you a more outgoing coach?
For the moment, I definitely want to stay behind the scenes and just help HuHi and MakNooN acclimate to the environment. In the future, you’ll definitely see me streaming and playing publically, but for now I feel there is too much need of me with the team to have a big public presence.
What sets you apart from other coaches in NA?
Well, most of all, I have a lot of experience. While I haven’t been well known to the public, i’ve been very involved with a lot of players in their gaming houses since season 1. When the Korean server had just started, all of the high plat (the best rank at the time) players really knew each other. It was a really big community.
The big ‘grandfathers’ of the scene are all people I’ve known forever. For example, I’ve known Faker since he was named “Go Jun Pah”, which was well before he was so popular. Basically, in short, I have a huge amount of experience with the Korean scene, which is hard to match.
I lived in the MVP house since before everyone was a ‘great’ player as they’re considered now. I’ve seen how these teams develop over time and I’m sure that with our staff, I can help to recreate the process that made those Korean teams great.
You spent some time at the MVP LoL Gaming house in South Korea. Do you think that your time spent there will improve your coaching ability?
Well, as I said above, of course. There’s a lot of “trade secret” type things that have allowed the Korean teams to develop synergy that western teams have been hard pressed to match.
I’m quite well versed in how to create a successful team environment, and like I said, I can help to recreate the process that really built the Korean hype train from the ground. I don’t want to over-hype Fusion – the process does take time – but if we can stick with it and maintain what we’ve been able to foster in the house so far, Fusion will eventually be a force to be reckoned with.
Magic and Wei are coaches and analysts supporting Noblesse and working closely with the players. Here are their thoughts on the team:
What is your overall impression of the team’s synergy so far?
Wei: The group of people we have are all extremely motivated, and the synergy is far more than we could have hoped for in a few days. We see constant improvement on a game to game basis. Different players on the team all bring different things, and they help each other through that.
For example, even as a sub, Bee Sin brings excellent leadership and communication, despite not being the highest ranked player on the team. He’s very well spoken in game, and we think he’ll develop into a great player and leader for a team in the future.
Magic: I think that the team environment is very positive, especially when compared to other teams. Obviously we haven’t had the stress that is a major competition yet, but people have been very open to coaching and advice from other players. Everyone’s opinion is considered nicely, without regard to ranking or any other factors, especially egos.
How much input on player selection did you have?
Wei: My background with MakNooN is quite extensive. I’ve been a close friend of him for a long time and after he left the scene, he wanted to take a break.
Upon his return to the pro scene and that he wanted me to help him make it into the best possible team to make his return with. Despite having a lot of other options from the LCS, MakNooN thought this team has a huge amount of potential. It’s filled with players that he respects, such as Nien.
He had a huge amount of potential as an ADC before going top lane for CLG and I’m honored to be able to help him come back to his home role, as well as aiding MakNooN in his return to the scene. As far as HuHi goes, MakNooN immediately suggested HuHi. He thought HuHi was a player who was not only mechanically skilled, but he had the personality that we wanted.
He’s a mature, polite player who has respect for everyone. In addition, he’s a well-traveled player. His parents worked in Embassys globally, and he’s fluent in both English, French and Korean. In addition, he wanted to come to NA, regardless of whether he was on a team or not and that’s a big selling point. We aren’t a foreign team, we’re an NA team. MakNooN and HuHi both wanted to come here independent of League. MakNooN, to marry his girlfriend and HuHi to go to school.
Both myself and Magic were really excited at the idea of developing NA talent with the help of experienced Korean players. Alden really wanted to foster the players and having the premier NA talent working closely with our coaching staff and Koreans achieves what we wanted perfectly. People say that there is no NA talent and Magic and I think that’s not true.
It’s just a matter of coaches scouting out the right players (which we’re always in the process of doing), and turning NA players into the powerhouses they can be. With that said, if you’re an NA player looking to break into the scene, make yourself known! If you can impress us, we have a few more spots in the house.
Magic: I hand-picked the players that we wanted. Gleeb and MakNooN were two players I pushed for very early. I knew that I could help to create an environment for Gleeb to succeed and MakNooN is a player I’ve followed for a long time. With those two players as a core, Wei and I talked about what players we wanted for the other roles.
Wei and MakNoon carried a lot of respect for Nien from his time as an ADC on Monomatic and both thought that if he was willing to play ADC that he would be a contender for top ADC in NA once again, and after seeing his performance, we think that’ll come to fruition. Chunky and Bee Sin were both my ideas for live in players and subs. We needed a player to fill in for HuHi while he flew to and adapted to North America, but more than that, Chunky has proved himself on the ladder.
He’s rank 9 presently, and can really only go up and reach his full capabilities to be one of the best midlaners in North America with the right coaching staff. Bee Sin was also my idea, because he’s the perfect player to fill MakNooN’s shoes and to later train under him. He has a huge amount of latent skill that we can tap into, in addition to being a very mature and social player. He’s acting as a team captain before MakNooN gets here, he’s a leader inside and out of game.
What is your opinion on the roster swaps in the rest of the league (i.e. CRS Piglet)?
Wei: I feel as though roster swaps are the natural direction of how things go and businesses are there to win fiscally. It’s hard to say whether it was a good move or not, because we don’t know the dynamic that happens inside of the Curse Team. If they can support Piglet despite the language barrier, he could be valuable, but beyond that, it’s hard to say. Our focus is developing relationships and a good social environment, which relies on the fact that we believe player’s environment can have a larger impact than raw skill.
On a side note, though, I’m really excited to see the change, just as a fan of Piglet’s play in the past.
Magic: I think that Curse bringing Piglet over is either going to be a huge step forward, or it may be a huge flop. It depends what Curse does to facilitate Piglet’s transfer. There’s a huge language and cultural barrier and if there isn’t a way for the players and coaches to connect with Piglet, that would be another failed import due to lack of proper infrastructure.
With the somewhat recent flop of Seraph due to all of the language issues, as well as the situation that happened with Edward, we hope that Curse has learned and can make the switch successful. If they can make this import successfully, it will be a huge step forward for their team and the NA scene as a whole. We’re certainly cheering for their success, of course, as the ability to synthesize western and eastern talent will be instrumental in the west winning another world championship soon.
Who do you fear in the expansion tournament?
Wei: As of right now, we’re so new. We aren’t taking anyone lightly in tournament preparation and we’re planning for the possibility of failure – we’ll be in the gaming house no matter what, and you’ll be seeing a lot more of us through the spring challenger series split even if we fail now. We’re the underdogs since we’re so new and have so little time to prepare, but at the same time we don’t fear anyone because the only ones in the way of our success is ourselves.
Magic: No one.
Has anything surprised you about the players?
Wei: I’ve always been on Reddit and there’s a lot of Gleeb haters. To be honest, I was hesitant to work with him. When I met him in real life, though, he blew me away. Nick is incredibly nice and friendly, and his commitment to the team has been astounding – I think the community has the horribly wrong impression of him as a player. I can honestly say I hope to stay friends with everyone on the team for a long time, especially Gleeb.
Bee Sin was also a huge surprise. He’s very young, but still incredibly well spoken and mature. With both of those players getting specific mention, I have to say the whole team has blown me away with their responsiveness to coaching, positive attitudes, and commitment. Everyone on the team has been so respectful and ready to work with each other.
Magic: Jae [HuHi] came into the house immediately after a flight from Korea and just got on solo queue right away. He has astounded me continually. The team has accepted him so quickly and he’s very social with everyone and communicates well. As soon as the team started playing together, he fit perfectly into the role that Chunky had been holding down in his absence and his synergy after a minimal amount of games is incredible. Everyone has been so friendly with each other immediately, I really look forward to seeing them develop their synergy in the future.
Alden “Veyloris” Haight is the founder and owner of Fusion eSports. He is relatively new to the scene, and after failing to rescue LMQ from their management troubles he decided to start from scratch and lay the foundation for a new powerhouse organization in NA. Here’s what he had to say:
Veyloris – Team Owner
Some people have questioned the decision to fly NintendudeX first class. How would you respond to those people? Does the decision reflect the philosophy you bring to the team?
Most of the staff and team were flown first class. It’s sort of a tradition that we’ve always observed. The first flight we book with people we work with is first class. If you book correctly, it’s only a little more expensive and we’ve always looked at it as a symbolic gesture. Y’know? It’s sort of a “welcome to the organization, we’re going to try and take care of you” sort of thing.
Plus, a lot of the players are young. First class is an experience, especially internationally. It’s a fun thing for people to do at least once in their life and it’s a good way to start a professional relationship. If you’ve ever had a bad international flight, you know how hard it is to get off on the right foot with people if you’re tired.
You mentioned on reddit that the players were chosen in part for their laid-back attitude and that the team was in it for the long haul. Did you have to make sacrifices of skill when you were choosing players to accommodate this?
Not at all. NA has more talent than people give credit for it, part of the problem is that most teams only offer the same environment. Some players need a healthier social environment in order to thrive. We have a lot of seasoned players, and all of them have experienced internal team issues that have definitely hampered their abilities to perform well. With a management and coaching staff focused on promoting a healthier competitive environment, you will see the skill of the players come out beyond what people might expect from seeing them in the past.
You hinted at a “more refined and better implemented” version of your original plan for LMQ. Are there any details you’d like to share about this?
In essence, that’s me saying “we didn’t fly to their house with contracts in hand and ask them to sign”. We’ve been able to carefully plan a lot of things that we’ve been developing to support the team and the brand, and all of the planning will come out very clearly when you see our brand and team start to move forward.
You teased in a reddit thread that there’s a “few other, cool things that we’re doing differently that help”. Care to discuss?
Like I mentioned above, we’re focusing on the personalities and the players, not just who is hyped the most. There’s so many great examples of teams who haven’t made changes to and yet have been able to continue to compete continually on a global scale – Cloud 9 immediately comes to mind.
In addition, we’re trying to break the typical problems of a gaming house by developing more of a gaming complex. We have 3 buildings on the same property, and we’re looking to make sure that there is a distinct aesthetic change between work time and play time for the players. Because of the timing of the team’s creation, we won’t have break until April, so we need to make sure that our setup is mentally sustainable to the players. We want to innovate what a gaming house provides a team by not just allowing the advantage of being able to control schedules, but to allow more freedom for the players to be healthy mentally.
And, as mentioned in a lot of places on Twitter and Reddit, we’re running with a larger support staff. Many teams neglect having the right coaches to guide the players. By no means are coaches just something you can throw at a team to make it better, but if you have the right relationships formed with the team, the coach can help so much in developing untapped talent.
Furthermore, we’re adopting the Korean innovation of practice partners. We have Bee Sin and Chunky in the house with us to be streamers and subs. They’ll both be working closely with MakNooN and Huhi to develop into top tier players. Both are already standout talents from the NA scene, and we’re looking to work symbiotically with them – they’ll help the team improve as they themselves become dominant players, who will later found our challenger/sister team.
There’s a few more things that we have, but more of that will come out later.
The misinformation campaign by BeeSin- your idea or his?
Sleep deprivation was the real MVP on that one, but I stand by it. It’s not the most professional thing to have done in the world, but I think having a little bit of the misinformation hype lead to more interest in our announcement.
How did the process of choosing a coach for the team go? What do you feel like Noblesse brings to the table that other potential candidates did not?
Choosing our coaching staff was something that was very important to me from the start. Noblesse was actually brought to my attention by both Magic and Wei. I had already talked to Wei and Magic and stated I wanted them to work as coaches, but that we needed someone to facilitate the house and the player’s homeostasis. For that, we needed a mature person who understood the game. He’s our ‘everything’, essentially. He’s a great cook and has fantastic game knowledge. He’s able to keep the house running while Magic and Wei sit in on the players’ solo queue, scrims or 5s.
It’s hard to find someone who is mature enough to know what a house needs to keep running and who also is able to contribute at the highest level of game knowledge. As soon as I realized what he could bring to the team as far as flexibility, I wanted him immediately.
How hard has it been to find sponsors and backers for the new team?
That’s an interesting question. At the moment, I am the money for the team. We have a business team that is working with sponsors, so we’re confident you’ll be seeing some names on our uniform after we enter the LCS. We’re committing a lot of resources to the team, so we’re not in need of small sponsorships to get on our feet.
We’re basically looking for the big fish after the team is more popular, or after they make the LCS. To help with that, we have a studio and media guy working from in the house to develop content far better than many league outlets can provide. I’m not sure how many sponsors don’t want us developing fantastic in-house sponsorships for their brand. With that said, any inquiries about sponsorships can be forwarded to [email protected] / esmith.casu[email protected]!
Special Thanks to Alden Haight and the entire Team Fusion crew. GLHF on the rift!