Over the last few weeks, companies that operate in America have had to make a decision. After the death of George Floyd sent thousands of people down the streets of every major American city in protest, companies had to make a call. Calls for corporate channels to speak out in support of the movement echoed across social media.
The protests have seen hundreds of millions of dollars donated to charities, the NFL apologise for its handling of player’s peaceful protests, and the vast majority of esports organisations who operate in America pledging their support to the protests. One of the first organisations to speak out was FlyQuest – and the decision came straight from the CEO.
— SeaQuest (@FlyQuest) May 28, 2020
“At FlyQuest, we believe that greatness exists within everyone and we want to find and showcase it,” said Tricia Sugita, CEO of FlyQuest. “Our vision of Showcase Greatness will never change, that is our north star and why we are in esports. Whenever we have an opportunity to help others and use our platform to do good in the world, we will always take it.”
Sugita has been CEO for FlyQuest for under six months. During that time she has spearheaded initiatives to fight climate change, transitioned the team to a new facility, and brought home the best finish for the League of Legends team in the organisation’s history. And she did it all while navigating a global pandemic.
“In this day and age, we have the opportunity to be more than just a company, in our case more than an esports organisation,” Sugita told Esports Insider. “A lot of companies and teams say they ‘want to be more than XYZ’ but I don’t know what that ‘more’ is. Even for traditional sports teams who have been around for decades, I don’t know what their vision is, what their brand is. I wanted FlyQuest to have a clear vision from the start because many of the greatest companies in the world have started with a vision.”
For Sugita, speaking out on major issues isn’t ‘will-we-or-won’t-we’, it’s how. The company has amplified or ran charity events to support Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+ communities, and the environment – just in the last few months. For Sugita, these are personal tenants of her life that stretch far beyond her time at FlyQuest.
“If we speak in marketing terms, you have your vision, you have certain initiatives, you have certain products, but if you put all that aside, at the end of the day you have your ‘why,’” she said. “Why are we here? Who are we? What is our purpose? For me, I believe that greatness lies within everyone and I want to serve humanity and help others be happy. That mission has led everything I do in life. It is very much a privilege that I am able to work towards my vision through FlyQuest.
“Now that I’m at FlyQuest, that same purpose is still there. But now I have a greater responsibility, a greater privilege to be able to spread that purpose through a company. It’s important to use your platform responsibly and find ways to help others.”
Previously the COO of FlyQuest, she helped the organisation focus on helping the climate. Initiatives like TreeQuest found a way to tie League of Legends into planting trees. For every kill by a FlyQuest player in the LCS or Academy, one tree is planted. Ocean Drake’s are ten trees and a FlyQuest win is 100. In all, nearly 10,000 trees were planted by the organisation via TreeQuest in the Spring Split.
When it was time for former CEO Ryan Edens to transition to President last January, initiatives like TreeQuest made Sugita stand out from a wide crowd of other candidates. Now the entire organisation falls under her leadership.
“FlyQuest’s employees don’t always agree with what we want to do, but they understand my perspective and understand why it is important to me and that I’m speaking from the heart,” Sugita said. “I don’t try to convince the other staff members. I try to inspire them and say ‘let’s leave a legacy in esports, let’s actually be more than an esports organisation.’”
Within a new eco-conscious facility dubbed the ‘Greenhouse,’ FlyQuest players are finding success. FlyQuest has been a middle-of-the-road team in the LCS since Wesley Edens, the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, purchased Cloud9’s Academy team (and the spot they earned in the LCS) in 2017. Over the past two years, the teams highest finish in an LCS split was fouth with the average finish being about seventh place. This year, with a new facility and a new CEO, but many of the same players, FlyQuest held second almost the entire split.
In the Spring Split, the organisation finished in a three-way tie for second place and lost the tiebreaker. The players made up for it going on a run through the loser’s bracket in the Summer Split playoffs to reach the finals. In the finals they matched up against Cloud9, arguably the greatest LCS team ever established, and were swept. Despite the finish, this was certainly the best split FlyQuest’s LCS team has ever had and the organisation attitude could have played a part.
“Players have really responded well to these changes and they enjoy working here,” Sugita said. “We’ve centralised into our Greenhouse facility (pre-quarantine) and that allows for a lot more collaboration between different parts of the company and gives players input on things like jersey designs, TreeQuest and other things that they find important to them. It’s resulted in positive effects on both competitive play and on FlyQuest as a whole.”
For Sugita, her next six months as CEO will almost certainly be less hectic than her first six. But there will always be causes that need support, and Sugita’s FlyQuest is going to be quick to help in whatever way the organisation can. That’s what showcasing greatness is all about.