FlyQuest formally made their entry to professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive by announcing the signing of the ex-CLG Red squad for the 2023 ESL Impact League Season 3 Finals.
The move marked a turning point in the North American women’s CS scene as it continued the trajectory of its best team in the Impact circuit for the past two years. From that, ex-CLG Red became FlyQuest Red for the competition. Following their opening match against 9 Pandas Fearless in the group stage, BLIX talked to FlyQuest Red’s IGL Mounira "GooseBreeder" Dobie on how the org signed the team for the Season 3 Finals and more.
Appearing in Dallas for a second time
Pedro Romero, BLIX: You're here in Dallas as an NA team which is the same as last year when you were with CLG Red, so what is the experience like? Is it similar to how you approached it from last year?
Mounira "GooseBreeder" Dobie: With every team, especially with a new roster, I feel like I have a lot to learn as a leader. There's always something to learn from the last event or tweaking from the new one. I think we take what we think works, and then we scrap what doesn't work for us, so we're trying to figure out what our groove is. At online, we're doing really well, but I think, for us, it's just trying to bring that peak performance out of everybody. I think our A game is very high, but our B and our C game are a little different, so we're trying to raise the floor while still reaching our peak. That's kind of the goal: the bring our type of CS.
BLIX: Focusing on this team, you're with a new one compared to last year's iteration with Kaoday, madss, BiBiAhn, and uhKelsie. What has that difference in teammates been like in relation to last year's squad, which featured names that are well-known in this game?
GooseBreeder: We've actually had a couple of LANs under our belts with our new players, but we are still inexperienced as a roster. I think the difference between experienced players and non-experienced players when it comes to LAN is, usually, [those teams] have their groove already, and they're comfortable typically with the pressure a bit more. I think it's just about getting used to the environment already for some people, but I can't speak for everyone, that's typically how it is.
I do think, though, as the players, they're doing pretty well in their improvement. Although we had veteran and experienced players, I don't think that these players are too far behind, honestly. They have a very high skill ceiling, and I have a lot of faith in them. All the players are shining in their own roles, and I have a lot of faith that they are going to continue to improve and, who knows, we might even reach higher heights, so that's kind of how I see it.
Moving to FlyQuest
BLIX: The biggest thing concerning this team is their move to FlyQuest. It generated a lot of hype about its place in the region. How did that move come together?
GooseBreeder: We were trying to find a home pretty quickly after losing CLG, but I think the process has been fun. I think FlyQuest is awesome and I think it's a great fit for us. For expectations, it's more a bit like fun and refreshing to carry a new banner. We have new fans coming along and old fans joining the new org, so I think we're trying not to put too much pressure in ourselves and just focus on us, keep it simple, and not think about random things. For me, that's mainly what I'm trying to do.
BLIX: With CLG Red's end, the women's CS and Valorant teams started looking for new orginizations. During the Main Event of NA Game Changers Series 1, the Valorant team was supported by another org that searched for a new home for them following the event. That said, was the women's CS team working in conjunction with the Valorant team in trying to find a new org? What was that adventure like?
GooseBreeder: We were in talks with a lot of orgs, but for us, it was important for us to find one that could back our visas. We have a lot of foreign players. I myself am a Canadian living in America, so I can't stay here without a visa, so losing CLG means losing visas, and it potentially leads to players getting kicked out of the country. It was really messy and a lot of work to move and whatnot, so it was a bit freaky, but we didn't really have anything crazy. We still had each other, and we were doing fine for the time being. We understood it was a hurdle that we had to face, and we're getting past that right now with FlyQuest. We just had to chin up and deal with it, really.
BLIX: You mentioned in a prior interview that the end of CLG Red came to you as a shock, given that it happened suddenly, so how were you able to maintain that top form ahead of this event?
GooseBreeder: I think the journey is a bit wishy-washy in terms of mental. There's a bit of a morning phase, you know? You just lost your job, and you don't know what the future holds. You don't know where you're gonna live. There are a lot of question marks. But I think a bit of it was pressure [getting off of] our shoulders. We didn't we have an org, so we were like, 'who cares what happens?' I guess we were trying to see the silver lining.
I think our team has a pretty good mental---we try to at least. We're just trying to see the good [side of it] when we can, and I think that's how we dealt with it. If we bring it back to basics, we were kind of expecting to find an org eventually, so we weren't putting a ton of pressure on that per se--besides the visas--but we just got on and played our game. We all planned to come to Dallas. That's what we agreed on that before we had an org, so nothing really changed.
BLIX: What made FlyQuest the right org for you to play for alongside the rest of the team?
GooseBreeder: I think their branding is very fitting for us. It kind of feels similar to CLG in a way. It has a similar vibe, and I think, in meeting them now, they're all really cool people. They get s**t done. They seem like a pretty org so I'm very impressed so far with everyone I've seen. I understand where they're coming from and what their vision is, so I think it aligns with ours as well. They're very invested in the future of this team, and it's not just a short-term thing.
They see us as a main team, as any other team they would pick up. They're taking us seriously. We're not just an afterthought. I'm not saying that was the case with CLG, of course, but sometimes you get that feeling of where you think you're a bit of an afterthought. Maybe there's a team on the org that's a bit like the shining star or something like that, but I like that they take us very seriously. They have a lot of plans for us, so for me, it's really exciting. I like that they have that approach.
BLIX: How important was it that this FlyQuest move made to sign the team was to preserve the legacy of the RED branch within the women’s CS scene?
GooseBreeder: There was a lot that went into Red as a branch. It meant more than just us as a team at some point. It became about empowering women and people who don't have a space or a voice in esports. I think that's where Red was drifting to, so I think it was very inclusive and doing a lot of good in the space from a social perspective as well. I think it's really nice that they're not letting that die, and it lives on through FlyQuest. I think it's nice in that way.
Development as an IGL
BLIX: I want to talk about your development as an IGL and leader of this team. You mentioned how other players have been able to gain the experience by playing in more LANs, including this one. How have you adjusted your IGLing when it came to managing this crop of players?
GooseBreeder: If there's something that I learned about leading is that it amplifies your traits. Whether it's good or bad, it'll show you where you need to improve a lot faster. Especially from a mental standpoint, I learned a lot about leading in [locating] where my strengths are, how do I create my own system where it works for me and this team, and how do I create a system that is efficient. We put a lot of work into the foundation, myself, and flashie as well. I put a lot of thought into how to create a better structure as an IGL.
For the rest of the players, I trust them to handle themselves. I try to help where I can, but I think it's good to lean on your players to take care of things in their department. It's good as a leader to let your teammates support some parts of your shortcomings. No one is perfect. As a leader, I have things I'm good at, and I have things I have a hard time with. I have ADHD, for example, so my team understands I can't have people talking when I'm trying to think. They can't be talking about random s**t. It's gonna get me distracted.
My teammates are good at supporting me as well so it's about learning a lot. I'm reading books and stuff. I'm talking to a specialist who can teach me a lot. In every LAN, I'm getting so much, and I'm trying to really put things in place and I feel like I'm starting to figure it out, which is very exciting for me. I feel we're really close. We need to get that clicking moment, and I think when we get that, we will be really good. I know that for sure.
BLIX: Which book has given you the biggest impression?
GooseBreeder: I really like "Extreme Ownership" by Jocko Willink. The TLDR from what I got is a team that lives and dies with their leader. It helped me learn a lot to not make excuses for things. If a player didn't understand something, are you going to blame it on the player? Yeah, you totally can, but what can you do as a leader that would help that player? Could I have communicated more efficiently? Understanding what I have control over and taking accountability for what I have control over is really helpful.
In the past, I think I put a lot on my plate and maybe put too much responsibility on myself, and now, I'm really understanding what I should be doing, what I can do to help others, and what they can do as well. There's a lot to learn from that [book]. [Willink] comes from a military background, and there's a lot to learn and transfer. When you're playing CS, it's not like it's live or die, but it's very intense. You need to think fast in stressful moments, you need to perform under pressure, and you need systems that work in that environment. There's a lot to learn, so I think it's interesting if anyone wants to read that.