Post-Dallas, North America is back in the forefront of the women’s Counter-Strike scene thanks to FlyQuest RED. After a period of mediocre results on the international stage, NA's de-jure best team finally notched a respectable result in the ESL Impact Season 3 Finals.
The team’s performance in the Lone Star State was made possible by first finishing second in Group B off a 2-0 Decider Match win over 9 Pandas Fearless; which was on top of their 2-0 win over fellow NA neighbors Shimmer. This marked the first time since the Season 1 Finals, which also took place in Dallas, that FlyQuest RED reached playoffs.
While FlyQuest RED would eventually lose their semifinal bout to NAVI Javelins 2-0, by reaching this point despite all the obstacles that came their way, including the CLG org folding after it was acquired by NRG a few months ago and thereby dropping the Red branch, they helped restore their and NA’s position near the top of women’s CS. By fulfilling the hopes of a hometown crowd, FlyQuest RED is flying high in momentum.
Following the end of FlyQuest RED’s run in the Season 3 Finals, BLIX talked to Vivienne "BiBiAhn" Quach about her experience competing in Dallas, how the team came together to reach semis, how she compares her participation from last year with Oceanic team Mindfreak in the Season 1 and this current stint with FlyQuest and more.
Competing in Dallas
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Commiserations on the series against NAVI. Even so, the team made it to the semifinals in this event which equaled CLG Red's best finish last year in Dallas. Despite the loss, how do you feel about the team's performance in this event?
Vivienne "BiBiAhn" Quach: Regarding our performance today, it's not what we expected to do, but as you said, we surpassed our past LAN placings. We made it to playoffs and Top 4 out of everyone here, which features super talented teams. I think we can be proud of ourselves over that. In the long run, it's progress so I think we should keep believing in this project and move forward.
BLIX: Prior to this event, before CLG dropped the Red roster, this team consistently made Impact League finals but weren't able to reach playoffs each time. What enabled this team to surpass their struggles in past events for this go around?
BiBiAhn: I think it was just time. Obviously, throughout those LANs, we've had a lot of struggles. Whether it be with visas, moving, or CLG disappearing, we've had a lot of stressful things happen and our practice would be a bit more hindered because of that. Only Goose is super experienced with LANs and as a team, I think this is our third [event].
I've been to a lot and Goose has been to a lot, but Kelsie, madss and Kaoday haven't been to many Impact LANs so I think the way we were able to surpass our expectations here was that everyone kind of knows how it feels to play at LAN now. They were just getting the initial jitters out of the way and I think the more LANs we play, the more that we'll get comfortable with it and we won't shit ourselves coming into these events. I think we just needed to get more LANs under our belt, and at the same time, we're improving seeing as we made it to playoffs. It's a good sign.
BLIX: It's certainly a good starting point for this team. Although you were born in Australia and you came over to North America, throughout the event, I've seen you enjoy the crowd and the entire environment. How has it been playing in front of a pro-FlyQuest RED crowd for you?
BiBiAhn: It's been really amazing because they make up for the lack of feel of belonging I had at home. Obviously, I don't know anybody — I'm Australian — but these guys really support me. Even with the people [I met] when I stream at home, they showed up here which is fuck*n amazing because I feel welcomed and supported and that's really all I could ask for when I'm alone in the States. I'm really grateful for it.
Comparing 2022 BiBiAhn and 2023 BiBiAhn
BLIX: Speaking about you moving to NA, last year, you were with Mindfreak and represented Oceania for the Season 1 Finals and the standalone event in Valencia. How have you seen your development individual-wise from being with Mindfreak to now being a crucial piece for FlyQuest RED in this year's event?
BiBiAhn: I would say there's definitely been an improvement from last year to now. There's a lot that I learned within the game. Being in Australia, there's a lot of game knowledge that you lack especially in things like economy and just how people watch demos. Last year, I remember I used to message people about how I didn't have a routine back then. I just never thought of myself in being in that region, but now that I'm in NA, I have a better understanding of how important my routine is. It's literally for everything from a good sleep routine, what my routines should be so that I can be in my best form before a match, healthy eating and stuff like that.
There's been improvement in those aspects but there's also improvement in the fact that it shows in results. Every LAN that I've been in before, I always went out last. I went out last every time and this is the first LAN that I made with my team that we got in to playoffs and for me, that really motivates me to keep doing what I'm doing because it's working. Before this LAN, after going out in the last two LANs, I was super... well, not depressed but I was questioning if I am going in the right direction. I was slowly starting to lose confidence in myself so being able to get this result now, it was really needed.
BLIX: And that's a good thing to hear considering it provided such a massive boost to you both competitive and mental-wise. I want to cover your perspective as to what went down with CLG Red going down and how the team went orgless for a while before getting picked up by FlyQuest. GooseBreeder mentioned how the news of CLG Red ending came so suddenly so how did you take in that experience?
BiBiAhn: I was extremely distressed when it happened because it just popped out of nowhere and I did not expect it. I don't think anyone expected it. I was literally in the gym while we were in a meeting and it all just went down in half an hour. I was not handling it well because, for me, I knew that meant I might have to go back [to Australia] and that was the last thing I wanted.
The majority of my whole CS career has been me wanting to go overseas and for that to potentially take it away from me in a split second was extremely saddening. But people reassured me and I had to believe that this will work out and obviously it did thanks to missharvey and Greg Kim. They stayed up so long trying to make this happen with FlyQuest and obviously it paid off and I can't express how grateful I am for that because I really did not want to go back at all.
On Oceanic and NA Women’s CS
BLIX: It speaks volumes about the state of CS in Oceania not just on the men's side but also on the women's side. I can only imagine what it must be like for a player such as yourself to do well individual-wise and get your reps in, improve and be in a cohesive team. What is your view of OCE in women's CS now compared to back then? Has there been any change since you left up until now?
BiBiAhn: I can't really speak for mixed CS, but for female CS, from what I've glanced at, there has been no change at all. I'm still seeing the same old players. I haven't seen any new up-and-coming players because there are barely any tournaments. There's just been nothing and I don't see a future where something will arise again. It is what it is.
BLIX: It is what it is indeed. Taking the focus back to your team, what does this performance from FlyQuest say about its position and NA's position in the world of women's CS?
BiBiAhn: I think people are thinking twice about NA CS now. I hope that our result shows we have the potential to have these placements. People have seen what it looks like for us to how we play on a good day. It's super clean and we can match up against EU teams. I think that's what we've shown here at the LAN. I think it also shows that NA has a place in the international scene because we're still undoubtedly the number one NA team. They're not taking that away from us and it's nice that we did it under FlyQuest's banner because our legacy still goes on. With a playoff placement, I don't see us declining in progress or whatever. We are still maintaining our spot and we just have to work hard to progress further.