Last weekend saw the first round of the North American League Championship Series Expansion Tournament. One of the match sets showcased a team that may not be very well known yet, Final Five.
They are a team that was recently founded around the strong leadership and experience of ex-Curse/ex-Team Coast top laner, Keenan “Rhux” Santos. With him as the starting point, they picked up some other fantastic solo queue players to compliment him:
Jungle – Ryan “ShorterACE” Nget
Mid Lane – Austin “Gate” Yu
AD Carry – Marko “Prototype White” Sosnicki
Support – Brice “Rule18” Wilkerson
After last weekend’s impressive first round comeback victory, I had the chance to catch up with Final Five’s team manager, Nicole “MizzPeach” Manning. If you missed it, you can catch the match VOD here.
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today!
Tell me a little bit about yourself, Nicole “MizzPeach” Manning. When did you first gain an interest in League of Legends and how did you come into the eSports side of things?
I was dating someone at the beginning of Season 2 and I wanted to prove I was a better player than him. I am usually a humble person when it comes to sports but all his friends made fun of me so I tried my best to be better. I realized how much knowledge goes into being a player so I switched quickly to managing after a year of trying to be “good” at the game. I joined with a company as a volunteer and now I am a co-owner of the team and a profit share in the company. My first three teams were in the Season 3 pre-qualifier and one of my teams I personally built went to LA. I just spent a long time building teams and seeing what works, and recently I decided I was ready to build a serious team.
Now as for Final Five, the team was founded just less than two months ago. As the organizer and team manager, what were your goals as you looked to put together a team?
MizzPeach: I’ve built many competitive teams but this one was one that I was actually trying for LCS. I really care about the personalities of my players and mindsets. I don’t think talent is something you are born with. Talent can be learned through hard work and dedication with a positive attitude. My goal for this team was to have a group of players that can grow. Even the players agree with this idea.
Can you tell me about Rhux and his importance in making this team come together?
MizzPeach: I didn’t know Rhux extremely well before making the team, but I couldn’t be happier when I realized what a team oriented player he was. I will say, out of all of the pro or former pro players I have met, he has the best mindset. He really cares about playing well and not so much about how “famous” he is. He cares about having a team that wants to improve and his mentality and emotional “collectiveness” is what keeps the team under control in intense plays. He is a very strong player and communicates well. Rhux was extremely patient through all the setbacks while finding players in the team’s creation process.
Can you tell me more about those setbacks? Or how did you manage to find the right people to fill out the roster?
MizzPeach: The tryouts didn’t go well at all. I had a very rough experience finding the right players.
During the build up to last weekend, what did an average day of preparation look like for the players of Final Five?
MizzPeach: Well getting scrims was difficult so surprisingly, we have been doing 1v1’s to improve mechanics and solo queue. We had at least one scrim per day though.
Going into Saturday’s match, Final Five seemed to be the general consensus underdogs. What can you tell me about the team mentality prior to the first match?
MizzPeach: I think my team does well being an underdog. We like being underestimated; it brings a certain competitive vibe.
Game 1 was very tight for the first 15 minutes, but then it seemed that the floodgates opened in favor of Zenith eSports. What happened?
MizzPeach: We were nervous and the early level one put us on tilt. We had prepared for it but it was the miscommunication that got to us. When going over the replay, most of the team was shocked at how close we were in gold when we gave up.
Knowing that Final Five was only one game away from being out of the tournament, what was the team talk like during the break?
MizzPeach: We laughed off the first game. OF COURSE, we didn’t dismiss it completely; we just tried to move past it. We took the breather we needed and got back to work to regain our confidence.
Do you feel that the players had a more comfortable champion select in game 2 than in game 1?
MizzPeach: They definitely were more confident with their choices going into the second game.
Game 2 was a bit of back and forth between both Final Five and Zenith eSports. At 10 minutes, F5 had a tight lead, but for the following 15 minutes, Zenith was in charge of the gold lead. Then at around 30 minutes, we saw F5 start to take control.
How important was focusing on F5’s win conditions in game 2? What do you think those win conditions were for this specific match?
MizzPeach: I’m not a coach, but our win conditions were just playing to the comp we had and I feel we did a better job of it. As far as how we took control, I think we were patient and Zentih didn’t take advantage of their lead.
After watching Prototype White get that Pentakill in game 2, it felt like there was only one way the rest of the series would unfold, a Final Five victory. What were the players’ emotions like going into game 3 and how did they stay focused?
MizzPeach: They were happy with the win; Prototype didn’t even realize he had gotten the Quadra until the team was yelling at him to get the Penta. It gave them confidence and when my team is on point, they do really well. We have taken games off of big teams in scrims, not that it matters too much, but when we are on point and everyone is focused, we will typically have a smooth game.
During the pick and ban phase in game 3, it seemed that Zenith tried to focus their bans on your jungler, ShorterACE. He still managed to pick a jungler that was banned out in game 1 and game 2. Do you think this was an oversight by Zenith?
MizzPeach: What they don’t realize, you can’t ban out ANY of my players despite popular belief. ShorterACE plays EVERY jungler. I think the main thing people don’t realize is that since there are three core junglers, that is what he’s been focused on. Nocturne was NEVER practiced in any of our scrims but it was one of his favorites from a while back.
As you go through this week in preparation of Complexity Black, what is the general mindset of the players?
MizzPeach: We get along pretty well. There are a few flair ups like with ANY team. I think the mindset is just focused on that game. Not anything else. Just trying to play the best we can.
Do you care to elaborate on what you mean by “Flair-ups?”
MizzPeach: Once or twice there’s a misunderstanding or miscommunication but it is quite manageable, and the players usually move past it on their own.
Thanks again for taking time out of your schedule to chat with me and good luck in Final Five’s match this weekend against Complexity Black. May the runes be ever in your favor!
You can watch Final Five face off against Complexity Black here at 4pm EST.
You can also follow them on Twitter @F5_FinalFive.