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Behind the Screens – ShaDaz


Turning A Dream Into Reality


I recently had the opportunity to sit down with “ShaDaz”, the newly promoted COO for EZL to find out a little bit more about his new position as the head of the organisation. The interview, starting smooth and easy, felt like nothing more than a conversation between friends.



“Just for those who don’t know who you are, tell me a little bit about yourself.”

My name is Dan Gallagher and I am currently a college student in Minnesota, United States. I am pursuing a degree in computer science, and on top of it all, I work a full time job, not to mention EZL. Life can be quite crazy at times.

 

“What does EZL even mean, I don’t remember hearing the full name before?”

As much as both Skillz4Killz(current EZL CEO) and I would love to scream it out loud, I cannot say at this time.  It is a name that has not yet been trademarked, but once we have the trademark, you can be certain we will.

 

“Can you explain to me a little bit more about what EZL actually is, just a general overview of the organisation?”

So the best way to put EZL into one sentence would be, “The way to bridge the gap between the professional player, and the tiers below that 1%.” Most people don’t have the time to commit to making that jump from a normal high-tier player to a professional one, to be able to actually draw a salary. EZL gives those players a place to start. EZL is a system, where no matter the skill level, there is a place for anyone. The goal is for the players to work their way up the tiers, and gain the fame and recognition of a professional player.

 

“How is it that you came into the position of C.O.O. (Chief Operating Officer) for EZL?”

I have known Skillz4Killz (the C.E.O. of EZL) for a long time, even back before the creation of EZL. When EZL was initially created, he explained to me the vision for the company and maybe more importantly, the need for such a thing. I was first involved in EZL as a coder, due to my background with coding. Eventually though the need for someone to help share the load of EZL was apparent – it’s not a one man job. Skillz came to me with the offer, and at first I was hesitant. In the end though, I was brought in and realized this was what I wanted to do. I want this organisation to succeed, to be able to pay our staff and eventually be able to bridge the gap between the professional and the casual player.

 

“Walk me through a day in the life of Dan, what do you do, and why are you successful?”

Wow a day in the life of Dan that is not a question I have ever been asked before. First and foremost, organization! I have to have everything planned out and set up the day before otherwise it feels like I get nothing done. Another really big thing for me is that I push myself to learn something new every single day. If you are not constantly learning and growing, you will be the same person you are now for the rest of your life. I want to be the best leader, teacher, COO, that I can possibly be, and to do that, I feel the need to keep pushing myself to become better. Surrounding yourself with new people and different things, not only will you learn and grow every single day but you will become better. Not just as a leader or COO but you will become an overall better person.

 

“By what method is a person able to join EZL, as a player or a staff member?”

The easiest answer way for you to do this is just to head to our website and fill out an application. The application form will get processed by our HR department, and then sent to the respective head of department.

 

“eSports is not a very widely accepted genre in North America, what are your ideas on changing this?”

In the simplest terms, we are trying to change the perspective of the average person about eSports. The everyday person in North America will spend no time at all watching eSports, maybe they do not know it exists or even worse, they know it exists, but feel it’s just a waste of their time. We are not trying to replace everyday sports with eSports, we simply want the public to acknowledge, support and enjoy them. Take South Korea for example; ESports are an everyday thing over there, and yet the Korean people also enjoy watching everyday sports. It shows that they can coexist and even complement each other.

 

“In broad terms, what is your long term goal for EZL?

Well let’s work with a five year benchmark, where I think EZL can be in five years. Just to make a list, I feel we will be paying our staff members, incentivising our players to stay and play for us, and most importantly I think we will have a global reach. Let me reiterate what I mean, our staff  members do so much, and they are volunteers, it is not that I want to get more out of them once we can pay, I simply want them to feel appreciated and rewarded for the work they have done and for the effort they put in. As for incentives for our players, in my mind that is just as important as staff payment, without players we have no establishment. I want the players to be able to make at the very least, some money playing for us. As for the global reach, that is fairly self-explanatory. I think in five years we can have a branch of EZL in every continent that Vainglory is based in. The real “global” goal is to be in every eSport that there is.

 

“Are there any leaks you can give us, any projects you want to reveal?”

Well there was a leak, not too long ago on a certain Femme Fatale interview, project “Numbers”. I cannot say any more about that, but feel free to check it out. With respect to the bulk of what we are working on, it is all behind project “Prometheus”. Keep an eye out for the reveal, because once Prometheus drops, everything will flow behind it.

 


 

Once the interview was over, we stayed on Discord and chatted for about an hour afterwards. All in all ShaDaz seems like a genuine guy. Down to earth, who is clearly passionate about a company and a game that he loves. He seems to have all the qualities of a successful leader. In my personal opinion [Not bias, honest! – ed], EZL will be a company to keep an eye on, especially with the growth of Vainglory as an eSport, and eSports in general.

Christan “supertac” Weber


You can keep tabs on EZL, and what Dan gets up to on Twitter by following @EZL_Official.

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Behind the Screens – Flash X

After leading his team to second place in the 2016 Vainglory World Championship and demolishing the competition along the way, EZL managed to get TSM’s FlashX to take the time out of his schedule to have a chat with us. We wanted to find out who FlashX is behind the screens, what makes him tick, and maybe pick up some tips on how you can git gud and follow in his footsteps too!


Personal Life


What made you choose your IGN?

When I was young, I used to play games and I was the flag runner and was really good so players called me Flash since I was really good at running. When I tried to make an account named Flash in VG, the name was taken, so I thought an X at the end would look cool, so FlashX was born.

Do you call each other by nicknames, IGNs, or real names when you chat?

Sometimes they call me Flash and sometimes Michael, but mostly just Flash.

(Skillz4Killz asks “Can I call you my favorite roamer?” Flash says “Yes!” Queue laughter and the rest of the interview becoming a whole heap of fun!)

If you want to party, have fun, or laugh which one of you do you look to?

VONC. Definitely

How old are you?

24

Your family is highly supportive of your Vainglory career now, but how did they treat games during your childhood? Did you play games often?

I have always loved games, but my parents did everything they could to try to push me to go outside instead of staying inside. Sometimes I would have to do chores to earn “computer time”. I would constantly ask for chores to do in order to earn more time to play Runescape and other games. But now my parents and siblings support me 100%, and watch all my games that are streamed. They are very happy that I have been able to make a career out of something that I truly enjoy doing.

Did you have any difficulties with respect to academics pursuits?

I think I was Top 10 or maybe Top 5 in high school but in college I would say I was more towards the middle because of it being a pretty hard school and had some of the smartest kids in the country.

You mentioned college, are you still going to college and what was your major?

I graduated from college in August 2015 and majored in biology, minored in business and chemistry.

What career do you intend to pursue in the future, if you ever retire from Vainglory?

That’s a really good question, because I am one of the older players and most of the other professional players in other eSports usually retire by now, and it’s tough to go into a career with a major in biology because it requires doing much more schoolwork like getting a masters.

(Skillz4Killz jumps in saying “By then I should have a place here for you in EZL!” Queue more laughter and general shenanigans.)

Do your friends/classmates/colleagues know about you being a pro-gamer?

Yes, everyone knows about it and a lot of my friends from college watch my games when they are streamed. There is nothing my friends don’t know about me and Vainglory!

How do you deal with emotional stress when you have problems or issues arise?

I would say Vainglory is a good source of stress-relieving for me. I am definitely not the type to just go out and drink away or party away like anyone else.


Professional Career


How did you end up in your current team?

After winning VIPL and beating some of the top teams like GankStars Sirius and Invincible Armada, we started really making a name for ourselves and putting us on the map. I started reaching out to a lot of the big organizations like TSM. The first one to get back to me was TSM and they were interested just as much as me.

Who suggested the team house, you or TSM?

The idea for having the team house came from both sides to be honest. Both myself and TSM wanted to have the team house as it can help immensely.

Your team was known to practice 10 hours a day leading up to the Championships. Do you still train with the same intensity?

It varies a lot. We only practiced 10 hours a day for about a week before the championship, during the boot camp. Recently we have not practiced as much, because after that for almost two entire months, there was not much competition due to off season, so not much practice. We took almost a full month of break to celebrate. About two weeks ago we got back into practicing hard, so we are starting to get the back into it.

You are known to be the one that’s always prepared in draft but besides that what do you contribute to the team?

As I am the oldest one, I also tend to have to have most of the adult responsibilities, like having to go get the groceries and just having the captain role in the team.

How did you discover Vainglory?

I grew up playing Dota and Dota2, and one day during a lecture in college, was watching the Apple Keynote because it was really hyped. I saw Vainglory featured during a September 2014 Apple Keynote. I thought the idea of a MOBA on touchscreen device was really cool and it had awesome graphics. So I downloaded when the beta was released, and have been playing ever since.

What made you decide to be a Vainglory pro player and not any other game?

In October of 2015, during the first ever official SEMC-sanctioned VG competitive play. After we won VIPL in Korea, and TSM came on board was when it really helped push us to make that decision.

Other than Vainglory, what other games do you play/have played competitively?

I have not played any other game competitively, but I do play Overwatch and Counter Strike casually. I have played a lot of other games like Runescape in the past.

Do you play Vainglory as a full-time job?

Yes, I do it as a full-time job and stopped working in sales since joining TSM as a competitive player.


Competitive



In scrims, how do you improve specific skills or other areas of your game? Do you try to focus on one area at a time, and work through a list of objectives over a training session, or do you prefer to train more generally, focusing on everything at once?

Scrims are more focused on team development as opposed to improving individual mechanical skill. For mechanical development, you really just want to grind as many games as possible and just isolate certain mechanics (blocking for example) and focus on that. To do this, I would prioritize it over everything else. This means that if you have to be late on a fountain just to make sure you get your block off, do that. In time you’ll just learn to do it more naturally and then you can be more proficient at both. For scrims, communication is key, and making sure everyone is on the same page. Learn to identify the win conditions prior to the game starting and play to these conditions. If you have an early game comp, you need to play aggressive early to get an advantage. If you have a late game comp, playing passively to allow players to scale is more important.

What do you think makes your team unique?

We are currently the only team living in a team house and we are by far closer than any other team because of this. Chuck and I always go to the gym together in the mornings (VONC prefers his sleep) and we always eat dinner together. Being able to always be in the same room has helped our coordination tremendously.

With the limelight as pro players, there’s bound to be fans! Who are the funniest, cutest, weirdest or most notable fans you’ve met?

My girlfriend –  I would say I am biased because she is my girlfriend and also lives with us. She does all  the cooking which is incredibly helpful and we are all very grateful for. (“Notice he didn’t say tasty?” – Skillz4Killz.) The four of us coming from American, Mexican, and Chinese backgrounds means we eat quite a variety of meals which I personally love. A cherished moment was when I first got back from Korea for VIPL, I was absolutely craving Korean barbecue since we had it two times a week when we were there. I found a restaurant in Denver that served it and one of the waiters recognized me and it was a surreal moment.

Is there anyone who you would like to thank for helping you along your journey to this day?

I will always thank both my mom and my dad. They supported me tremendously through college and I was really scared that they would be upset that I wasn’t using the degree that they had paid for. Fortunately they have always promoted me finding a job doing what I love. I am incredibly grateful to be playing Vainglory professionally, and to have had my parents support me through my journey!


While we wish we could have spent the rest of the year chatting with this Paragon of the Vainglory community, sadly we had to draw a close to the interview somewhere! Overall, we’re left with the impression that FlashX isn’t just an immensely talented Captain, but he’s also a solid role model both in and out of the game – certainly a cool, down to earth guy with a level head.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed getting to interview him, so definitely stay tuned for more glimpses of what goes on behind the scenes! And of course, a massive thank you to both FlashX and TSM for the opportunity.

See you all in the Halcyon Fold!

You can find FlashX on Twitter at @TSMFlashX, and his team at @TeamSoloMid.

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Behind the Screens – Infamous Legion

An interview with Infamous Legion, a professional Vainglory team


After the first-ever Vainglory World Championships, we managed to get Infamous Legion here for a quick interview.  We talked not only about their views on Worlds but also about who each player is. While reading, you’ll get your own view of each player, but we’ll be sure to also tell you what the writers at EZL think of Infamous Legion. Huge credit go out to physiX – a journalist here at EZL – for the interview.


Player Details


What made you choose your in-game name?  Is there any meaning behind it?  Do you use nicknames when addressing each other?

spaghetti: At the time I was creating my Vainglory account, I happened to be eating Spaghetti. So obviously I made my in-game name spaghetti. If you want to get specific, spaghetti originates from the food item spaghetti. We use a mixture of both real names and nicknames when we talk. Most of the time, people call me “spag” for short.

Quatervois: I made Quatervois my in-game name because the word has a deep meaning. Quatervois means the making of an important decision/crossroads in life. I strongly relate to this word because when playing competitive eSports in Asia, especially Singapore, it is hard to get somewhere, due to the emphasis on education and certificates in the society. Choosing to take the path I did and to be part of professional eSports was a huge risk and an important decision in my life, which is why I picked Quatervois as my ign. Also the pronunciation is Quarter-vwa and that sounds pretty awesome! My nickname when communicating is “Firm” because it was old in-game name.

deftQ: I chose DeftQ as my in-game name because I found the word “deft” super cool. I add the Q at the end because the name IGN Deft was already taken. I was also previously known as EyeOfSeraph, but changed it because Firm said it was too long and hard to pronounce; I imagined shout casters having trouble yelling EyeOfSeraph during a game so I changed it. My nickname is Fish because my name sounds like Fish in Chinese (Jing Yu)

How do you each personally contribute to Infamous Legion? For example: in a game, who leads the team in battle? Who calls the drafts?

spaghetti: We don’t have a specific leader, since we all kinda call the decisions for each other.

Quatervois: I am mainly in charge of the draft phase and shot calling is usually done by the roam player which is me.

deftQ: Quatervois is in charge of the draft as he has better knowledge of the heroes, Quatervois is also the one who leads the team in battle as he is the roamer.


Personal Life


As students, how do you manage your time between school, studying, and playing? Do you encounter any difficulties with respect to academics? What career do you intend to take up in the future?

spaghetti:  I am still in the lower secondary so my academics aren’t that hard. I do not encounter any difficulties. I am not sure of my ambition in the future.

Quatervois: As a student, I don’t really manage my time well, but to pass my exams I do all my work and studying in school and play when I’m home. I will then go on long study hours right before big exams so I can promote (promote — move on to the next grade in high school). I find difficulty doing well in my languages. I wanna do professional eSports as my future career.

deftQ: I don’t study at home and mainly just play Vainglory. I had to play in  the Vainglory Worlds right after my exams, and unfortunately I did not have as much time to train like other players. I am not sure of what career I will take up in the future, I’ll just go with the flow .

How did you discover Vainglory? How did you end up in your current team and how has your life changed since becoming a pro gamer? What are your plans for the future as a professional gamer?

spaghetti: I was introduced to Vainglory through my older brother who asked me to try the game out. We were switching around rosters in Infamous, then we found Fish (DeftQ) by Firms (Quatervois)  recommendation. My life has not changed much, since I played a lot of games to begin with before playing Vainglory. I hopefully plan to be a fully professional gamer and hope to be acquired by some organization I guess.

Quatervois: I was introduced to Vainglory by my school friend and played all day and strive to be the best at the game, hopped a few guilds, ended up in infamous spectre. I then partnered up with spag (Spaghetti) due to some conflicts within our own teams and we did well together. My life changed for the better after becoming a pro player as the feelings of doing well at something is indescribably awesome. My plan is to try and continue gaming and hopefully do well at future world stages.

deftQ: I found Vainglory while I was searching for a mobile MOBA game on my iPad. Quatervois got me in Infamous Legion and spaghetti also agreed to it. My parents did not want me to play games last time as they thought I was addicted to gaming, now they approve me playing Vainglory. Hopefully I can participate in future world stages and do well.

I’m sure your family, friends, and classmates have found out one way or another about your position in Vainglory as pro gamers. How have they reacted when they found out? Are there any people in the community (excluding your teammates) whom you’ve met and are now good, reliable friends, or have helped you out in real life?

spaghetti:  All my family, friends, and classmates reacted pretty surprised. Yes I’ve met a lot of people in Vainglory of which many are now my best friends.

Quatervois: My family disapproves, friends are shocked, classmates don’t know. There are a lot of people who have helped me or the team out, shout out to my bros InFiniteRiDEr, Iangryoudie, Bluexidy and Rubbermonkey for helping us train before worlds.

deftQ: When my relatives found out I went to worlds, they were delighted and supported me. I met a lot of players which are now my friends, some of which include Blackxidy and Celestial. I met them in real life a couple of times and they are really awesome!

With the limelight as pro players, there’s bound to be fans! Who are the funniest, cutest, weirdest, or most notable fans you’ve met?

spaghetti: UYENDEE is an awesome fan I met at worlds! She’s the marketing director for Vainglory and I first met her when she commented on my stream. She kept saying she was my biggest fan and I was like “Wutttt!”

Quatervois: Ceoscah from TPHX was actually supporting Infamous Legion at Worlds, and I feel honored to meet her as she’s an awesome friend I made.

deftQ: There was a fan called OVERLOADED in Twitter and she drew all three members in INLN in anime style. It looks amazing and I hope more fans will do this!

From the video played at Worlds, you mentioned a place where Vainglory players gather to play. Could you elaborate? Where else does your team play together?

spaghetti: We used to play in Project Mob which was a dedicated LAN café for Vainglory which has since been shut down due to some issues. My team usually comes to my house to play and other areas such as Starbucks.

Quatervois: Spaghettis house is the best, though it is very untidy.


Competitive


What do you think makes your team unique? During Worlds, you mentioned your team being fluid with regard to roles. Could you elaborate more on how it presents an advantage to your team?

spaghetti: We are unique as we can play all roles and switch around.

Quatervois: We can all play all roles and thus our draft will be very unpredictable. So that way people cant assume that kestrel or celeste will be going lane thus get caught by surprise. We can play all the heroes in the game as a team combined, and we decide who plays which heroes the best and he or she will practice the hero.

In the Tesseract League, your team had complete domination, but the competition was much tougher at Worlds. Moreover, your team is one of the youngest to take the stage in the competitive scene, with an average age of 16. How did each of you adjust to the jump in skill and intensity? Considering your experiences at Worlds, where you played against SNOW Avalanche and TSM, what have you learned? Have you changed anything in the way you play Vainglory?

spaghetti: We have learned that it is a big world out there.

Quatervois: The competition at worlds was definitely at a whole new level, especially since we don’t meet any Koshkas in SEA and thus we were caught off guard, but we will take the priceless experience and come back again the following year, hopefully to win it all.

deftQ: We learnt that Koshka is overpowered and should be a pick or ban hero. Koshka does insane damage and has insane jungle clear speed, allowing her to invade enemy jungle and rotate super quickly . We should have played more early aggression heroes to secure the early win.

I’m sure your preparation during Worlds was quite intense. How do you improve specific skills or other areas of your game? Do you try to focus on one area at a time, and work through a list of objectives over a training session? Or do you prefer to train more generally, focusing on everything at once?

spaghetti: We mostly just train. (This was actually his whole answer.)

Quatervois: We solo q against each other to train our game mechanics, we practice draft and pocket comps in scrims and we practiced making less and less mistakes in ranked matches.

deftQ: We kept ranking and perfecting our draft. We also have scrims with KFC ( KFC is a team made up of all Vainglorious Gold players).

In Infamous Legion’s streams, all of you have a good sense of humor and tend to joke around a fair bit. Are there any times where it hasn’t been like this? What hardships have you faced/are facing in Vainglory as pro players and as a team?

spaghetti: Yes, we didn’t joke around when we lost at worlds.

Quatervois: As a team we faced many losses due to stupid reasons such as experimenting comps in finals of a series. We also have certain conflicts with each other due to our individual pride but after each argument, we grew closer as a team, and as brothers.

deftQ: We had some arguments which were not related to Vainglory but we manage to pull through and form a stronger bond between us.

You’ve played in the SEA server, as well as the NA and EA servers. What are your opinions regarding the playstyles and metas in these servers, both similarities and differences?

spaghetti: The SEA server is a lot more late game, compared to the NA and EA servers. There is way more aggression in EA and NA. I didn’t play much in the NA server so I don’t really have a strong grasp. 

Quatervois: NA and EA server focuses more on rotations early to mid game whereas SEA teams have superior team fighting mechanics due to the long drawn out games. EU players are strong with their vision control on the map and late game heroes.

deftQ: On the NA and EA servers, players are way more aggressive early game and try to secure the early game win on the enemies, while on the SEA server players focus on late game heroes and play a less aggressive early game.

Concluding this interview with Infamous Legion, here are some ending views from the journalism department at EZL:

physiX: One is the face of Infamous, another is the head, and the last one is the body.

Skillz4Killz: Spaghetti is hilarious, Quatervois is very nice and cool, and Deft is amazing.

VoloVG: Spaghetti made me laugh like crazy, Quatervois is so inspirational, and Deft is just cool, calm, and collected.

spaghetti:  “The Jester”

  • Streams and jokes around frequently
  • Unbelievable with Skye and her mechanics
  • A mixture of humor and skill

Quatervois:  “The Brains”

  • Calm, cool, and collected
  • Creates crazy good builds
  • Very analytical and thoughtful
  • He can make the SEA meta or break it

deftQ:  “The Skill”

  • Can use champs to their full potential
  • Was unbelievably good with Kestrel way before her hitbox buff