KBBQ: There’s a sense of camaraderie that only exists when you’re together

By Tom CockramNovember 22, 2020
On November 5, I sat down with Quincy Crew’s manager, Jack "KBBQ" Chen, to discuss all things Quincy Crew. KBBQ touched on what it meant for them to be playing without a sponsor, their decision to play without a coach, and what life is like for North American’s top dog.
Quincy Crew, until recently, has been winning everything in the Americas region. In fact, they won seven events in a row, and during the seven best-of-five finals, they only lost four games. KBBQ noted, "Not everyone’s going full speed - some teams are less active and playing with their own limitations."
With the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of teams are playing from less than ideal environments, whether that is a bad internet connection or players from different time zones causing KBBQ to point out that other teams aren’t perhaps at their best. Quincy Crew is currently unsponsored despite their great results, and that was an obvious motivation for the squad. KBBQ stated the importance of winning: “Winning is important because it sustains us while there aren’t sponsorships. ” He also pointed out that “We need to have our eye on the big picture and keep improving”
Sponsorship has dried up in the region, with only one team in North America being sponsored. Quincy Crew being top of the region, should be a shoo-in for an organization to pick them up, but unfortunately, they remain sponsorless. As KBBQ put it, “Sponsoring a team has a very high cost, and it's hard to see a guaranteed return or build anything.“

Finding the final chess piece - Lelis

While the core roster of Quincy Crew has been together since 2018, the team got a new player in the form of Rodrigo “Lelis” Santos, who joined the squad back at the start of November. The change came around “when Biver stepped away from the game, things lined up as MSS wanted to move back into the position four.” KBBQ mentioned Lelis “came highly recommended from the Ninjas in Pyjamas team as well as Universe, who I respect a lot.”
The rest of the squad is from North America, while Lelis from South America. This could have caused communication problems, but KBBQ says that assures us that there are no problems because “he speaks perfect English” and “his attitude, ethos and skill level fit pretty well” but it definitely can be “a bit tougher because he has to play from Brazil.”

International competition

In normal circumstances, teams would get the chance to compete against other regions in LAN events that happen throughout the year. However, as a result of the pandemic, this is not possible, leaving fans to speculate how teams would face versus teams from other regions. “The last time we played versus someone from outside of our hemisphere was in scrims leading up to the LA Major,” but KBBQ stated that they felt “confident going into the tournament” because “we did pretty well against some of the projected better teams. However, he also mentioned that “ No one thinks we would be better than Team Secret.” There is a quiet confidence to Quincy Crew: “everyone else in that region we could probably hang with.”
These results are a bit dated as the ESL One Los Angeles 2020 Major was due to take place during the middle of March — eight months ago. But still gives a good insight into how the team was feeling before the world stopped.
When this interview was conducted Quincy Crew had not lost a grand final in seven tournaments. I wanted to understand who KBBQ thought was a threat in the region. “Team Zero looks pretty solid.” While Quincy Crew have been winning, the games haven’t been complete domination: “it hasn’t been a shoulder-to-shoulder dominance.”
While the period has been very fruitful for Quincy Crew, KBBQ wanted to remind us that “the gap has not been that big” and that “we’re getting beaten semi-regularly we’re not just running over people.” KBBQ also wanted to touch on a “misconception is that people always think that if we’re better then we have some 90% chance to win,” expressing that it’s not just true “if the team is in your tier, you’re never more than 80-20/ 75-25 favorite.”
While QC has been dominant it’s important that teams don’t get too ahead of themselves, and KBBQ’s is making sure they focus on the ultimate goal: The International.
International competition has been the front of the highest tier of competitive Dota and it’s what draws fans to pack out stadiums in the thousands. Although we cannot return to the stadiums just yet, I’m sure that when we do it’ll be even more special.

What’s Jack "KBBQ" Chen like behind the scenes?

KBBQ is known to the community as a Dota fiend who spends hours upon hours playing pubs and a person that is adored by his colleagues. But what kind of manager is KBBQ behind closed doors when it’s just him and the team practicing for hours on end?
KBBQ started off being on the organization side, reminding us he was a director at VGJ, but that VGJ.Storm disbanded at the end of 2019. Since then, he has “transitioned to being player side.” This group of players has moved through different organizations such as Forward Gaming, Newbee, and Chaos EC, all with KBBQ. He's a positive guy and hopes that “fans and viewers can be more supportive and more positive regarding the matches.” After all, “These are people who have devoted their lives to being the best.”
Managers’ normal duties are all about player care and ensuring you help the team perform the best they can. This role has drastically changed with the move to online Dota. KBBQ spoke of some of the changes and struggles he faces trying to support his team remotely. KBBQ talks about his time before the pandemic, saying "at boot camps, I was cooking 1-2 meals a day just to try and give players healthier food,” which he is unable to do now. He also mentioned that “In-person, we can do activities and things as a team.” While for some people this situation might be tougher than the normal circumstances. KBBQ told us it’s not all doom and gloom as he mentioned that Arif "MSS" Anwar “has a family member he constantly works out with,” which “would be hard to do in a team house”
It might seem strange for a team that’s been so dominant to admit vulnerability, but KBBQ is very aware, saying “we’ve shown some vulnerability” and he's making sure they’re “careful not to look too much into it.” KBBQ tweeted recently, after the interview, that the team had actually been in a bit of a slump and hoped a recent win would take them out of it.
The current Dota 2 tournament ecosystem has created some problems such as The International being favored by organizations as the event to be at due to the massive prize pools and huge exposure for your team. I wanted to get to know the thoughts of someone who this will directly affect. KBBQ brought up that the new system will “be better from a team and organization point of view” because of the large increase in “consistency and making the investment knowing how much your team will play.” Although, this won’t benefit everyone, “for top players in a region it might be a step down as there are fewer LANs and less prize money.” But it does seem like the general idea of spreading out the money across the ecosystem will be achieved.

Quickfire round

At the end of the interview, we did a quickfire round of questions to get to know the players a bit better.
Interviewer: Who’s the guy making all the jokes?
KBBQ: “Yawar always cracks people up and SVG has witty humor.”
Interviewer: You’re losing 0-2 at The International 10 finals, who’s the player that delivers the speech that brings the series back.
KBBQ: “SVG - captain and I have seen him do that. Never seen it before and might not see something like that again.”
Interviewer: Who’s the player that spends most of their time in pubs?
KBBQ: “Quinn and Yawar are both grinders and play a ton of pub. Quinn has the lead now but Yawar plays a ton of pubs as well.”
Interviewer: Who’s the player that comes up with a new whacky idea?
KBBQ: "MSS is very involved in the draft. He’s the co-drafter, so I’d probably credit him with that."
Although Quincy Crew have finally lost a grand final they appear to be very self-aware and are keeping their eye on the big prizes for when we can return to regular events. Under the great guidance of KBBQ I’m sure we will see these boys do well at the next LAN event.
I would like to thank Jack "KBBQ" Chen for his time and his thoughtful insight. You can catch Quincy Crew at the Realms Collide 2 event which is taking place until December 6.
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