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Palafox: Would He Sign a Deal With The Devil to Win LCS?

Dan Smyth-Temple

FlyQuest has struggled in recent weeks to find its footing. After a tough loss to Dignitas in the fourth week of Summer LCS, they stand against CLG in contention for the eighth and final playoff spot. Playoffs may be a long way off, but FlyQuest still has a lot of work to do if they’re to confidently secure their place in the standings.

Palafox FlyQuest

For Palafox, the win is the only thing that matters (Photo via Riot Games).

We sat down with Cristian “Palafox” Palafox after the loss to chat about recent struggles, contracts with the Devil, and his League of Legends roots.

Hotspawn: Let’s start off by asking the classic question: how’re you feeling after that game?

Palafox: Just kinda sad. To put it in perspective, I think my pick was more a roleplay pick, where I don’t prefer it but it’s good for the comp so I’m doing it for my teammates. The Lee Sin matchup, I’ve played it not many times in scrims, Nocture vs. Lee Sin. I’m learning the matchup real-time [laughs]. It doesn’t feel that good to lose like that, but I guess it happens. You have to get past it. 

Hotspawn: It seems like you’re not a huge fan of the current midlane bruiser meta. Am I reading that right, or is it just Nocturne? 

Palafox: It’s some champions. Usually, I’m pretty comfortable on a lot of the champions that have set up, but Nocturne is just weird. I don’t really have set up for my own lane, but I have set up for other lanes and people have to call me more.

As an example, Sett you can flash E ulti, you have a lot of angles in like that. Lee Sin, Q to a creep and kick someone back and they’re one-shot. Even Lucian you get prio, you scale, you have some skill expression in those matchups. I like Sylas and Akali into the bruisers. Even Renekton, you can go forward and you have your stun calling people towards your lane. Nocturne to me, there’s not really any skill expression towards that champ, and you’re also a little more reliant on your teammates to be setting up stuff, and you to be actively participating. 

Hotspawn: It’s like the Crown Malzahar question. Let me off you a hypothetical— the devil offers you a contract: you win LCS Finals, but you have to play Nocturne every game until then. 

Palafox: [Laughs] Well it depends on how good people think I am at the end of that one. Crown was depressed, like “man, everybody knows I’m fucking bad.” He wasn’t bad, his map play was pretty good. I would do it. I would play Nocturne. The win is the only thing that matters [laughs]. 

Hotspawn: That’s a good answer for any teammates or coaching staff that might be listening. One of the things we spoke about back in Spring Split was finding individual leads for yourself through laning phase, but struggling to transition that into wins. Where are you at in that effort?

Palafox: That’s hard to answer. The game is obviously a 5v5 game, right? I think I’ve gotten a lot better about calling around myself in these conditions. I just think I’ve gotten better about calling around that, I don’t wanna say anything else. No comment on the rest of that part, sorry. 

Palafox Cloud9

Palafox walked away from League the first time he played but came back with a vengence (Photo via Riot Games)

Hotspawn: No problem— to take a different angle on it, I think we were also speaking about leadership skills. Is that something you’ve been working on specifically, or just something that’ll come with time?

Palafox: It’s not something I’ve been working on directly, and I do think it comes with time, but I think it’s more about being clear and concise about what you want. League is not a one-man shotcall type of game. I think it’s more about being clear and concise about what you want, and everybody else following up on you. Some problems with our team are sometimes people don’t follow up, or sometimes no response, stuff like that. It makes it a little bit harder. With that, it’s about finding ways to band-aid that. 

Hotspawn: That’s all I’ve got for that game, but I do have a few more casual questions for you. When did you start playing League? Not even competitively, I’m talking first game ever. 

Palafox: I think it was when I was going into eighth grade— the summer going into eighth grade. I think it was season two or three. The reason why it’s hard for me to pinpoint when is because I played to level thirty, and I got [there] super fast because I was grinding. It was so fun. I played some ranked when I hit thirty, and I think that might’ve been at the end of season two, but then I quit for a year. It was such a brief period that I played in the beginning, and I came back at the end of season three or something and I got to gold. I started at bronze five and got to gold at the end, and I quit for another six months or something. 

Hotspawn: Were you always a midlane main? 

Palafox: No, I was not [laughs]. I was a toplane main. I was a Riven one-trick. 

Hotspawn: Would you consider busting it out mid, or are those days behind you?

Palafox: Is it all behind me? No. If it ever came into meta I would spam it, I think that champs so fun. 

Hotspawn: Did you quit League for school, or just because you were bored?

Palafox: I’m a total game hopper. I played Runescape, WoW, I was a console gamer for a very long time. I played some very very weird RTS’s that nobody would know.

Hotspawn: Hold on, hold on— are we talking like Age of Empires, or more obscure?

Palafox: If you’ve ever heard of Stronghold 2, I played Stronghold 2. That was my RTS that I played. But I’ve actually been playing some of the Age of Empires [remake]. It’s pretty good. 

Palafox GGA

Palafox admits to being a Riven main with some embarrassment (Photo via Riot Games).

Hotspawn: What about these days? A lot of pro players talk about playing WoW or Genshin in their spare time. 

Palafox: During the season I don’t really play any other game. Occasionally I’ll play Tabletop Simulator, play some board games with friends or something. I don’t really play any game during the season other than League. Honestly, there’s a huge joy to being really really good at a game, and [the] recognition for that. Ultimately, that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

Even going into the offseason, I get so much enjoyment going to Korea and spamming those games. I’ll play like sixteen games a day for a month straight [laughs]. That’s really fun for me. But past that, every WoW expansion I’m on it. I played at the beginning of this most recent expansion for retail, I didn’t play Burning Crusade or anything. 

Hotspawn: You mentioned going to Korea. Is that for team boot camps or just something you’ve done by yourself? 

Palafox: That’s mostly something I do as an individual. I went one time as a team bootcamp, and I went maybe five times in total. 

Hotspawn: Do you have any sense of what you’d be doing if you weren’t a League pro? 

Palafox: I’d probably just help out my family, do some odd jobs, you know. I don’t really know for sure. 

Hotspawn: Was there anything about becoming a pro that surprised you? 

Palafox: Before I went pro I had an opportunity to do a bootcamp at CLG, which is also what got me interested. When I first went pro, by the way, I had my first split in Texas on Optic. I don’t wanna flame Optic, but that was miserable. I almost wanted to quit, it was so so bad. But I ended up pushing through that, and that was probably the biggest thing that surprised me. 

Hotspawn: We’ll dig into that another time, because that’s all the time I’ve got! Thanks so much, Palafox, and good luck with your final game this weekend.