‘Natural Progression’: PapaSmithy Joins Flyquest as New President and Chief Gaming Officer
A veteran of the global professional League of Legends scene is moving on to the next phase of his career and is hoping to once again build his reputation for excellence with a company that shares that goal. Chris “PapaSmithy” Smith has joined FlyQuest as its new president and chief gaming officer (CGO), where he will look to spearhead the organization’s efforts across its various esports teams and expand on its mission statements over time.
Following time as a pro player, a caster, and most recently a general manager, PapaSmithy told Dot Esports he considers this venture to FlyQuest in these new roles a “natural progression”—having admired the work of the North American org for a while.
“One of the reasons why the FlyQuest pitch was so interesting was I had the opportunity to speak to the new leadership and see where their heads are at,” PapaSmithy said. “They understand that to get to those great heights requires very strong processes and very strong people. You have to have the vision to understand what the intermediate steps are to make it to being a championship-contending org.”
The CGO role will have PapaSmithy working closely with the League and Super Smash Bros. teams and players currently underneath the FlyQuest umbrella from a more business-driven perspective. Simultaneously, as the president, PapaSmithy will act as the figurehead of the organization, being the person to represent FlyQuest in conversations and use the org’s past and present to bring it into the future.
“Chris’ reputation and track record in the gaming, esports, and League of Legends communities speaks for itself. We are excited for him to join FlyQuest, and to help lead the organization into its next chapter,” said Michael Viola, who recently became the owner of FlyQuest. “Chris will play a key role in team and player development, as well as engaging with FlyQuest fans and the LCS community in new and unique ways.”
PapaSmithy enters this role after nearly four years as the general manager of 100 Thieves’ LCS team. He led the team to their first LCS Championship in 2021 and, under his watch, the squad took part in three consecutive playoff finals. His departure from 100T stemmed from internal disagreements regarding what the future of the team would look like, but the Australian manager acknowledged that his time constructing and leading the roster there actively assists in the “natural evolution” of his shift to these new roles with FlyQuest.
He’ll be working alongside executive members like general manager Nick Phan to grow FlyQuest outside of just competition, including a focus on growing fandom—an area PapaSmithy feels most organizations have overlooked that alienates fans from the competition.
“It feels like after you watch the [LCS] games, maybe you can sound off a tweet with some hashtags, maybe you can try to interact with your favorite pro player, but it kind of ends at that,” PapaSmithy said. “My hope is that it’s going to feel super, super rewarding to be a fan of FlyQuest… in 2023, and that you’re going to be very clearly communicated with on what our goals are.”
Since the organization was founded in 2017, it has stood out among others internationally for its advocacy of various causes, adopting mission statements like “TreeQuest,” “BeeQuest,” and “SeaQuest” that fully immerse players and fans in the charity process. Though that was one of the factors that influenced PapaSmithy’s decision to join the org, the scope of these initiatives is one he’s still trying to wrap his head around—but he is excited to dive in.
“You can see clearly that there’s been no half-baked ideas from FlyQuest, they’ve been wholehearted and very much transparent with their fans about the things they value,” PapaSmithy said. “I fully imagine that to continue in 2023. Whatever initiatives we’re in, whatever we’re trying to do, we’re going to be very much fan-focused on those.”
It is currently unclear what FlyQuest’s plans are for the upcoming LCS offseason. Only the team’s jungler, Josedeodo, has announced his ability to seek opportunities elsewhere. It’s reported that mid laner Toucouille is also prepared to find another home after only one year in the LCS. The LFL is his likely new destination.
Yet, outside of the LCS, PapaSmithy hopes to continue focusing on an area of professional League he cares about deeply: the North American amateur scene, severely overlooked in favor of the LCS and Academy.
At 100T, PapaSmithy was a pivotal part in the formation of the organization’s amateur team, 100 Thieves Next. While there is no set plan for how he attempts to help FlyQuest traverse this area, particularly following the announcement of the North American Challengers League, PapaSmithy remains adamant about helping to grow talent however he can.
“I want young North American players to have flexible ways to play the game,” PapaSmithy said. “The more of them we can bring through the ranks, much like Danny, Jojopyun, [and Phillip]—that’s the sort of thing that allows people to dare to dream. And the more dreamers we have out there aspiring to be LCS pro players, the more healthy the scene will be in North America.”
While PapaSmithy may not be directly a part of professional League as he has been for nearly a decade, he feels more than prepared to take this next step in his journey and continue learning about all of the quirks that have made esports such an important part of his life. And with the FlyQuest leadership at his side, PapaSmithy is prepared to make FlyQuest the fan-favorite organization.
“I authored the stories of League of Legends players as a commentator before, then I spent three years helping to build them,” PapaSmithy said. “I just feel now I have more tools at my disposal to do that on greater levels and on more parts of the organization than just the competitive players. It’s gonna be a fun ride.”
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