Victor Huang, better known to fans of the Oceanic Pro League as “FBI,” has always made his intentions clear. He wants to be the best. He wants to play at the highest level, in the League of Legends Championship Series, and the World Championship.
There are many that laugh at his gamertag, including new teammate Jae-hyun “huhi” Choi, who has been streaming under the title “FBI open up” for most of the week. Huang is happy for people to have a chuckle. He just wants his name to be remembered.
Now, the Australian bot laner may have that chance. As of last week, FBI has become Golden Guardian’s academy ADC, playing alongside veteran names like huhi, and Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya. Both are former LCS champions.
“It’s what I’ve always dreamed about,” the Australian bot laner told Snowball Esports. “To have an opportunity like this is something I wasn’t sure would ever happen, so now Golden Guardians have given me the chance I’m just so grateful. It’s a dream come true.”
From “SINderella” to the LCS
FBI’s story began further back than just the championship roster of the Bombers. Huang first played at a professional level with Sin Gaming, where he first met the man that would be his support for more than two years, and every competitive split FBI would play – Jake “Rogue” Sharwood.
Huang was part of the Sin Gaming lineup, helmed at the time by enigmatic jungler Brandon “Juves” Defina, that made Oceanic history with their “SINderella” run in 2017. Qualifying as fourth-seed after a 5-5 record in the regular season, Sin had Avant Gaming (6-4), Chiefs Esports Club (8-2), and Legacy Esports (8-2) to contend with in the postseason.
They eventually fell against Legacy in a 3-2 slugfest during the preliminary final, but they had left their mark regardless. Behind them in the gauntlet was Avant and Chiefs, both defeated in stunning best-of-five series that etched Sin Gaming, FBI, and the entire roster into legend.
FBI and Rogue became an inseparable bot lane, playing together on Sin Gaming, then Order, and finally with the title-winning Bombers. It would stand to reason, then, that Sharwood would have been disappointed to hear Huang was on his way to America. Instead, Rogue pushed FBI to accept the NA offer.
“I actually first heard that there was a possibility I could be signing with GGS right after we had won the grand final,” FBI revealed. “Talks started then, and as soon as I knew that they were becoming real I spoke to my teammates.
“This was even before the Mid-Season Invitational, so we knew we had other things to worry about, but they were all just really excited for me and knew that I should take the chance.”
The horizon turns a Golden hue
Now FBI is working every day in the Golden Guardians’ club setup, alongside players like Darshan, and huhi, as well as LCS veterans like three-time champion Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, and European superstar Henrik “Froggen” Hansen.
If the young Australian bot laner thought he had been learning high-level League of Legends with his Oceanic teams, he would have been right. Nothing, however, could have prepared him for the level that he’d find his teammates and clubmates would be taking him to.
“I really thought that I was at the top of my game with the Bombers, but with the Guardians coaches and players helping me every day I just start every single session feeling like I can go even higher, and prove even more,” FBI said.
“These guys have played the game for so long, and at such a high level, they have so many thoughts and ideas about how League is meant to be played. Even just in the last week that I’ve been here, I’ve learned so many things I didn’t even know I could learn.
“The OPL is a really good league, don’t get me wrong, but some of the guys over here are playing the game at a completely different level, and every single time we talk I’m just getting the idea that there is still so much I don’t even know that I could learn.
“It just makes me want to get to that level that I can see these guys at. It’s a really good feeling knowing there’s all this support to help me do that. There’s even more I can do, all the time, and I just want to show how good I am to the world.”
Although FBI hasn’t had the opportunity to step onto the LCS Academy stage yet due to visa issues that are currently being resolved, he will soon join the development roster for the first time. For the meantime, LCS-marksman Matthew “Deftly” Chen has been double-timing his gamedays, playing both in the Academy, and at the highest level.
The Academy squad recorded a 1-1 week in their opening fixtures, falling to Echo Fox and Australian-born James “Panda” Ding in their opening game. They bounced back against FlyQuest Academy, however, knocking over their second opponents in just 20 minutes.
The opening round results aren’t the best they could have been, but Huang knows that they’re a solid base for what he wants to achieve in the Academy system this split – first place.
“We can finish first in Academy for sure, we have such a good roster and we’re all really great players. We can take the first spot with the talent we have,” he said. More than that, however, he wants to show the entire LCS that he’s ready for the next step.
“I want to improve as much as I can in the academy as well, that’s my personal goal that I’ve set myself. There’s still so much more for me to learn once I get into these games week after week. I want to play in the LCS, and win that, so getting valuable academy game time is key.”
Biding his time in solo queue
While he waits, Huang has been grinding North America’s solo queue ladder, and he’s already got a fairly good idea of the environment. He even takes a long pause before dubbing it with one word. You can hear the smile before it even hits his face: “… interesting.”
There are a few factors that make the Oceanic import laugh about NA’s ladder environment. Firstly, it’s a 40 to 45 jump in ping, from the manageable 20 of Oceania to a 60-65 standard in the United States. Secondly, there’s a major coinflip of getting either “these beast LCS players,” or just “solo queue tilters.”
“When I get the games that are against LCS players it’s super fun, that’s for sure,” he said. “Just getting into games with players like Bjergsen [Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg] and guys that you hear about a lot makes the games really challenging and fun. You can learn so much from those, and that’s always what I’m trying to get out of those solo queue matches.”
FBI also has an interesting relationship with the NA players he’s facing every match. There’s a stigma that goes with any Oceanic representative that “Australia and New Zealand don’t have many good players,” and that they’re going to be “bad, if not horrible.” FBI has had a good chance now to show these players he’s facing why they’re incredibly wrong.
“I always want to try my hardest in solo queue, but sometimes it does feel like I’m also trying to show off what Australia can do,” he said with a laugh. “A lot of people overseas have this idea that players from Oceania and Australia aren’t very good, and they look down on us a bit.
“When I go into games and someone is like that, then I beat them, it always feels really good to prove them wrong. That’s just an added bonus though, because being great on my team will prove even more that Oceania is good, and that’s where I can show everyone the truth.”
Oceania represented on the global stage
Luckily for Huang, he’s not the only one that knows how it feels to be a representative from Down Under trying to prove North Americans wrong. Just this week, New Zealand star Lawrence “Lost” Hui returned to Echo Fox’s LCS lineup and delivered a 1-1 weekend.
Lost and his teammates faced Golden Guardians, and defending LCS champions Team Liquid in their opening round. For most, a loss to TL and a win over GGS would be chalked up as a great week. For Echo Fox, it came the other way round.
To have someone else already proving that OCE has the talent to fight on the LCS stage puts a smile on Huang’s face. Even better, Lost has been a major factor in helping FBI settle into the States in the past few weeks.
“I reached out to him and spoke to Lawrence about coming to NA in the first place,” FBI said. “He’s been so helpful already, and he’s someone that I really respect as a player, and even more so as a person, so it’s special to be able to join up with him here.
“I’m so glad he’s set the way for Oceanic players to come through to other competitions in America, and I hope that the two of us can do that again for more players who want to come over in the future, and prove that they can make the leap.”
FBI has always been a humble player, and wants to share his glories with friends, and teammates. To the former Bombers carry, the idea of even more Australia and New Zealand stars making their way to NA and the LCS would be simply “amazing.”
“I want to see even more guys come over here, and prove that we’re a strong region. To those players that are wanting to come to America as well, let me say you just have to keep working hard, and not lose sight of your goal. Keep your eyes on the prize, and one day you can also be here for sure.”
FBI is expected to play his first matches in LCS Academy stage this Friday when GG.A faces Clutch Gaming Academy (2-0) at 11am. The organisation’s development squad will also play against Cloud9 Academy (1-1) in the league’s second week.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games