With TI just on the horizon, we had the pleasure of speaking to Quincy Crew’s manager Jack “KBBQ” Chen about his thoughts on the season and his team in the run-up to the $40 million event.
The International 10 is starting in just a couple of days, and we've been talking to experts all about who they think is going to show up for the tournament. On a slightly different note, we also wanted to get a profile on some teams as they go into the world's biggest Dota event. To get an insight on the NA staples, Quincy Crew, we talked to Jack "KBBQ" Chen.
KBBQ is the manager of TI10 team Quincy Crew, and has been in the Dota 2 scene for years previously working as a translator for the Chinese teams, an analyst, and a writer.
The Season As a Whole
Now the dust has settled on the DPC Season in North America, what can you draw from it in terms of positives, and what do you think could be improved? What if any changes would you like to see in the DPC format?
KBBQ: "I think it was definitely good to have scheduled consistent content that could be relied upon by organizers and teams. I think perhaps the frequency of the games and matchups could be improved, some of which would come naturally if it was a ‘normal’ year with three seasons. I think it’s good for us and the region, for instance, if we’re guaranteed to play EG more than just 2-3 times the whole year.
As far as the overall DPC format goes, I think there just needs to be less volatility and variance and more round-robin style, interregional matches when everyone finally gets to these LANs. The Singapore Major is the perfect example of this, you had LGD play the entire field except Fnatic and win 23 of 35 games, then Fnatic only played 5 games total in two series.
From that you can reliably tell that LGD is probably a pretty damn good team, but is that enough data to draw conclusions about Fnatic? Just let them play, heck shorten the elimination aspect of these DPC majors (as the prizes are smaller than ever and less important anyway) and have more of a group stage where you award teams DPC points for each individual win. These are basically TI qualifiers, so you want as much inter-regional data with as little noise as possible, right?"
"As far as the overall DPC format goes, I think there just needs to be less volatility and variance and more round-robin style..."
We did an interview with Aui who rated NA as the second strongest region behind China. Where do you think NA stands in terms of a global regional power ranking?
KBBQ: "Not sure how serious he was but even as a staunch NA defender I can’t really agree with that. Points per slot or whatever metric doesn’t matter as much to me there (especially with one team doing most of the earning on that front) as just top to bottom quality and depth.
The NA scene has by far the smallest player base AFAIK, yet the highest costs and worst economics and therefore the least organizational support, and the pool of talent and teams is quite small. So I wouldn’t put us above the majority of regions. Make no mistake, we’re struggling."
"Make no mistake, we're struggling"
What do you see as being the key to develop the rest of the NA Dota scene as a whole?
KBBQ: "More players and resources. Some of these are hard issues to solve but there isn’t the player base, interest, or incentives/economics to really put this game as a good professional option for most players here. The general ethos and environment has also not been the most conducive to healthy growth. "
Who do you think has the most responsibility for developing NA Dota?
KBBQ: "If you mean professionally, we as the professional teams all have a large stake in it, especially when we take something of value from it. So we need to do our best to create a good environment for competition at the highest level, try to promote and assist grassroots efforts (like MD2L and other fledgling leagues, for example), and go out and make noise, both in terms of content and results, to create more opportunities for everyone. "
Getting to Know Quincy Crew
You’ve been with this team for a while now. What kind of growth have you seen in these players, either personally or in their Dota play?
KBBQ: "This could be its own essay. One of the hats we wear sometimes as managers is that of a big sibling or (even parent!). It’s fulfilling and rewarding to both try and help people grow outside of the game, and then watch that gradually happen.
I’ve seen everyone’s personality grow and evolve, steady maturation as people and teammates, and of course their ever-growing knowledge, execution, and communication as players, of which it’s harder for me to fully fathom the depths and details of. And then keep in mind that other teams and players are doing this too, so the results aren’t always a clear upward trajectory because the competition is fierce.
But I’m extremely proud and happy to have been with the core of this group for several years now, and watch everyone become more confident, comfortable, and assertive as people and players."
"It’s fulfilling and rewarding to both try and help people grow outside of the game, and then watch that gradually happen."
LoA/SVG has some of the best Dota knowledge out of anyone I’ve seen. What is his impact both in and out of the game?
KBBQ: "Avery (LoA/SVG) is very intelligent and disciplined, which together with strength of character and focus make him a great captain. He’s emotionally steady as the leader of the team, great at making sure everyone is heard and involved, but also able to keep things light-hearted and fun. He has worked extremely hard to grow as a leader and captain over the years.
Whatever Avery didn’t do naturally or may not have been in his comfort zone, if he felt it was necessary, he figured it out and earned it. His impact in keeping people together and pointed in the right direction cannot be overstated. "
As of right now, Quinn is ranked number 2 in Europe, stacked up against all the TI players. How much does he work to get that level of skill consistently?
KBBQ: "Quinn has a fanatical level of dedication to his craft, which is why things can often become so emotional for him. It’s easy to enjoy the memes or the occasionally eloquent outburst (since he was raised to not use profanity), but I wish people knew more of just what he brings to the table as a competitor and teammate.
We all know that Dota is an intense game, moreso the more you care. Quinn’s almost certainly the hardest working player I’ve ever managed, consistent and relentless in trying to better himself, evaluate and understand situations, and improve the team’s knowledge as well."
"Quinn has a fanatical level of dedication to his craft (...) I wish people knew more of just what he brings to the table as a competitor and a teammate"
I’m curious about YaWar because he seems the least chatty out of everyone on the team but obviously we are only seeing him on camera. What’s he like off camera?
KBBQ: "Good observation, it’s definitely true though he has come out of his shell a lot more over the years. He’s hands down one of the funniest people in the scene, able to make a joke out of any situation. If you want someone to lighten the mood or crack everyone up by saying something outrageous, Yawar’s the one.
YaWar is also fiercely loyal and tries to do the right thing to back other people up, which makes him a great teammate in some of these situations. He’s also the ‘cool kid’ of the team and does a lot of things his own way."
Leslão is the newest member of the team. What is the process when a new player joins a team? From your experience what is the best way to get a player settled in and how did Leslão fare?
KBBQ: Our offlane position is of course the one that has been in most constant flux over the years, with a number of changes and trial members. It’s really hard for that 5th person coming in because you’re joining an established team, you begin somewhat isolated and it’s easy to get more so. It’s hard to fit in and really feel valued and trusted as a part of the group. Especially if you look at the team’s history, it’s really easy to just be thinking that if things don’t work out you’ll be the one who gets kicked.
We interviewed MSS ahead of the AniMajor and his strategies and game knowledge are no joke. How do you view MSS’ contributions to the team and as a person?
KBBQ: "Maybe it’s because we’re both New Yorkers, but he’s the player on the team who reminds me most of a younger version of myself. He’s still coming out of his shell, a bit on the nerdy side, generally pretty easy going but also has a bit of an edge and likes to needle opponents at times.
MSS has always been one of the more naturally talented players, having a very large hero pool and experience at multiple TIs and a high level on very different roles, which give him a lot of perspective and insight. "
"[H]e's the player on the team who reminds me most of a younger version of myself."
A lot of fans tune in for TI but don’t follow the competitive season. What would be your elevator pitch to a Dota 2 fan about why they should follow and support Quincy Crew this TI?
KBBQ: "You like scrappy, determined underdogs trying to climb the mountaintop against privilege and prestige? That’s Quincy Crew."
What is one thing that fans don’t know about Quincy Crew that you wish they knew?
KBBQ: "I’ve said this multiple times but the name has nothing to do with Quinn. Quincy Street, the team house in a rough neighborhood where most of us first came together back on VGJ Storm, is the true origin of the name. It’s when we had our first taste of LAN and tournament success despite our relatively humble origins. "
Prep and Expectations for TI10
What does a typical day look like for Quincy Crew? Either in general or specifically in preparation for TI.
KBBQ: "Pretty straightforward really during these times - we have a set schedule each day with our own routines and preparation, different opponents to practice against, and we get up and get it done, then wind down and prepare to go next."
How is the energy with the team right now? Nervous? Excited? How are you feeling about it?
KBBQ: "Not nearly as nervous or excited as years past as people are more seasoned specifically with regards to TI (it’s Leslao’s first, but everyone else has been around the block a bit already). I think much of the hopefulness of years past has been replaced with confidence and belief, we’ve worked so hard to get to where we are and we see in TI bootcamp the results of that and where we stand relative to the field. "
Who do you think will be your toughest opponent and why?
KBBQ: "Hard to answer this without knowing who we’ll face, they’re all tough and should be respected, even the teams who struggle during bootcamp scrims can sometimes end up doing incredibly well (no better example of this than TI9 OG). "
"I think much of the hopefulness of years past has been replaced with confidence and belief..."
What team are you looking the most forward to facing and why?
KBBQ: "The favorites and the big dogs. We always love playing EG. LGD is always a treat and fun to play against, and of course OG too. "
You guys have recently announced that KheZu will be your coach! How is he fitting in with the team so far and how is it having someone of his caliber working with you?
KBBQ: "Pretty well, he really fits our style and ethos. He’s a thoughtful, intelligent person who always brings positive and productive energy, good work ethic, and helps lift people up without being too soft on mistakes and issues either.
We’d come close to working with KheZu in different capacities in the past, glad we got to it this time around and he’s been great, and a big part of the confidence and belief that we’ve built coming into the event."
We'd like to thank KBBQ for taking the time out to answer our questions! For more interviews and complete coverage of the International stick with us here at esports.gg!