Podcast video topics and time stamps:
4:00 - How did you end up on 100 Thieves?
5:47 - How do you feel about leaving CLG?
9:15 - How do you feel about Biofrost replacing you?
13:51 - Cody Sun/Stixxay comparison. What is Cody's potential?
22:02 - How does the lack of relegation affect motivation?
28:48 - What's going on with the Players' Association?
40:40 - What teams are you most worried about this split?
Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black is the epitome of an LCS veteran. The superstar support player has helped mold several of the careers of his Counter Logic Gaming teammates for years — all while helping to set the benchmark for shot-calling and leadership in LoL.
Now, aphromoo has moved on to 100 Thieves in a surprising free agency move. He spoke to theScore esports Podcast about what leaving CLG felt like, what the future holds for Vincent "Biofrost" Wang following in his footsteps and how good Li Yu "Cody Sun" Sun really is.
For a long time aphromoo had always thought CLG would be his permanent home. But according to him, this move was about seeing how much he was worth in the free agency market. In previous years aphromoo had always signed-on with CLG before even getting a chance to field other offers.
With that said, leaving CLG wasn't a positive experience for him.
"It felt awful, I still feel sad about it since at CLG the thing I miss the most is the people. And it really sucked," said aphromoo.
It was so tough, in fact, that aphromoo said he almost didn't make it to the free agency period. An offer to re-sign with CLG was on the table.
"It was very depressing, I almost didn’t make it to the free agency period and re-signed with CLG, but now that I’m here I’m a lot happier I would say," said aphromoo. "Overall health, mental and you know physical and stuff like that. And I’m just glad I can be a part of 100 Thieves."
aphromoo pointed to a simple change in environment as the reasoning for feeling healthier with his new club. But more than his physical environment has changed. Things are also changing in-lane for the support player. Gone is his impressive bot-lane duo with Stixxay, and now he'll be playing alongside the much-maligned Cody Sun, who has been the subject of harsh community criticism after a lukewarm performance at the 2017 World Championship.
aphromoo has high hopes for the young AD Carry.
"It’s really enjoyable playing with him and in terms of his gameplay I do think we’re going to work on him being more aggressive … because on Immortals from what I watched the playstyle was that Olleh just left the lane and just roamed," said aphromoo. "So Cody was always on his own, and all he had to do was farm and survive."
He said he wants to promote a more aggressive play-style for Cody by giving him the veteran in-lane support and communication that he's known for.
"I think he’s been enjoying playing with me a little bit more because I really value looking out for my AD Carry," said aphromoo. "So making sure he knows if it’s 1v1, making sure he knows when I’m going to roam ... and I think it’s helping him a lot in terms of being more aggressive."
It's help him so much in fact, that he's even started to catch aphromoo by surprise.
"Surprisingly enough he’s starting to make his own calls, which is f***ing insane, so instant improvement from game-to-game, said aphromoo. "And some of the calls I’m just flabbergasted, I’m like, 'Holy f**k bro I didn’t know you could kill that guy.'"
Lost in his surprising transition over to 100 Thieves is the hole that aphromoo left in the CLG bottom lane. A hole that will be filled by Vincent "Biofrost" Wang in the upcoming split — and aphromoo thinks Biofrost will succeed stepping out of the shadow of the likes of DoubleLift and Bjergsen.
"I think on CLG he has a lot more room to grow in terms of his own individual person because all the guys on CLG you know, we weren’t really too demanding, or take the limelight for ourselves," said aphromoo. "It was mostly all about the team."
Of course, aphromoo's transition to 100 Thieves comes on the heels of the NA LCS franchising during the offseason, a change that has allowed organizations to aggressively pursue foreign talent. This has been a big topic of discussion around the scene recently. He said that he sees value in homegrown talent, but concedes that you've got to go out and get the best, no matter where they were born.
"I think it’s highly unlikely, that in NA you can find the best five players for your team and do really well," said aphromoo. "Because everyone has skills all over the world, everyone plays the same game so it’s important that you aren’t too focused on just creating homegrown talent."
Keith Capstick is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.