It’s interesting to note that out of the 4 teams that will be in Toronto, only one of them is from the east coast. Foul Wings University of Connecticut will be representing both their school and everyone that plays the US East server, but are they up to the challenge? Captained by Junyu “Bellicoso” Liu, this team will have to bring their A-game if they want to have a chance against the western team rallied against them. Position 1 Ruoling “Ego” Meng and position 2 Qianhui “Melody” Pan have shown in recent games that they have what it takes to carry their team to victory, while supports Zhi “Old Zh1” Li and Haoran “Village_Fish” Li provide the stability to hold things together while their cores pick up speed. I was able to chat with Liu, Li, and coordinator Kenneth “Swish895” Bisch and get to know them better.
Like all teams, UConn make sure that communication lines are always open and information is flowing at all times. Unlike most teams, UConn only has one shot caller that everyone listens to, or as Liu says, “only one person makes the calls and everyone follows it, even if it’s a risky call unless it’s unreasonably bold. No one would disobey it.” The majority of the teams that I’ve interviewed this year favor an open forum style of shot calling, where players decide amongst themselves which plays to make and which plays not to make. These teams still have a captain that will take charge when needed, but most of the time the team is comfortable taking turns at the helm. For UConn, the whole team provides information for their captain and the captain decides the best course of action.
Another atypical feature of UConn is the fact that they’ve all met in person, with the exception of their coordinator Bisch. Liu said the team meets pretty often and Li added, “last night we were gathering for Canadian Visa application stuff”. The team lamented that the Visa process was more tedious than usual since they are all international students and only have 3 weeks to get it done, or as Bisch put it, “I guess we are just not so happy with the Visa application.” Hopefully, the team resolves their Visa situation quickly and without issue so they can focus on their finals and prepare for the LAN.
It goes without saying that UConn is one of the best teams in the league, but what I find truly remarkable is the fact that they qualified for the playoffs despite not playing any games in the second half of the season. As Liu explains, “We didn’t play the 2nd half of the season at all because we had a problem with team cooperation. Fortunately, there were 3 teams that forfeited to us for no reason.” It’s mind boggling that UConn’s toughest challenge to date was probably themselves, “We’re not pros, yet we have to cooperate for a long period. We had a hard time dealing with stuff like that. After all of us quit, I realized that we’re all going to have serious regrets if we just quit like that. Swish helped us a lot in rebuilding the team.”
Based on the performance of UConn in their playoff run, I think it’s safe to say that the team has settled their differences and can focus on their upcoming series against California State University, Long Beach. Despite looming finals, Li has found some time to do some research, “I watched their replays against Georgia Tech, they have a very unique style of playing. I look forward to doing more detailed research once our finals and Visa stuff are finished”. Before concluding the interview, we talked a bit about what schooling they were taking and Li said, “It’s actually interesting that all five of us on the team are from different majors” and I’d have to agree.
Zhi “Old Zh1” Li: I would like to thank everyone that has been supporting us, like our friends, families, etc. I’d also like to thank the teams that had skirmishes with us. I hope we can grab the 1st place!
Junyu “Bellicoso” Liu: We had a scrim vs UBC recently and won it ezly. Piece of cake. I believe we have a big chance of winning it all.
Kenneth “Swish895” Bisch: I am just very impressed by the team and think they have done great after having a rough time during the middle of the season.