Michael “FlashX” Valore is the captain and Roam player for Team SoloMid’s Vainglory team. He has been on the team since the acquisition of Team Alliance in 2016.
Since then, TSM has won the 2016 Summer Live Championship and reached second place at the 2016 World Championship.
Vainglory has become the flagship gaming for mobile esports, a genre that has practically been untouched until now. We talked to FlashX about his love for Vainglory and the potential for mobile gaming in esports.
Esports Insider: First off, tell us a little about your gaming background. What did you play before Vainglory and how did you get into it?
FlashX: I grew up playing a lot of Dota and Dota 2 which really cultivated my love for the MOBA genre. The first time I found Vainglory I was sitting in a lecture watching the Apple Keynote in September 2014. I thought the concept of bringing a MOBA to touchscreen devices was truly incredible and I had never seen a game with the graphic quality that Vainglory had. That made me really eager to try it. So a few months later when it released into beta I downloaded it and immediately fell in love and have been playing it ever since.
Esports Insider: Vainglory from Dota is a huge transition, what do you think about the differences?
FlashX: Well obviously the physical hardware is pretty significant. The feeling of a mouse and keyboard is much different than touchscreen devices, but I think Super Evil Megacorp really did a good job ensuring that Vainglory is incredibly responsive. It was a hard transition at first but after just a few games I started to really get the hang of it.
“I thought the concept of bringing a MOBA to touchscreen devices was truly incredible”
The other biggest difference is the fact that Vainglory is 3v3 whereas other popular MOBAs have basically always been 5v5. I know that 5v5 was actually just announced to be the future of Vainglory in late 2017 or early 2018 now that the technology has caught up significantly in order to support it.
Esports Insider: Do you think 3v3 is ‘simpler’ as a player? What do you think about adding 5v5?
FlashX: 3v3 is definitely a lot simpler. The game right now is heavily reliant upon individual mechanical skill. I think that moving to 5v5 would be amazing simply because it would require a completely new map design and thus add a lot of room for much deeper strategic thinking.
Esports Insider: What was it like going from casual to competitive?
FlashX: I don’t think I necessarily chose the transition from casual to competitive as much as it chose me. I was studying biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when I really started to get burnt out on school. So I planned and then rigorously started training to enlist into the Marine Corps after graduating.
“I think the appeal is simply the fact that this game can be played anywhere and at any time”
After I had been training for over a year to get my fitness levels to peak scores I sustained a really bad injury playing soccer that fortunately/unfortunately disqualified me from the armed services.
During my recovery period I would go to the gym and ride the stationary bike for 2-3 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every time I would go I would bring my tablet and play Vainglory the whole time because it kept my mind off of the injury and distracted me from getting tired. This was really when I started to get good at the game and I began to compete in some community run tournaments and even a tournament ran by ESL. That’s when I started contacting other players I had met through playing and forming a team. The rest is history.
Esports Insider: Why do you think Vainglory has so much success as a mobile esport, while other games fail? What’s the appeal?
FlashX: First off, I think that Super Evil Megacorp, more than any other game developer in the world, listens to what players in the community have to say. Whenever players, whether it be at the professional level or just your average casual player, have something to say, SEMC will listen. Just Wednesday with the 2.2 patch that was released they finally introduced a separate queue for three-man parties and a queue for duo and solo queue players which is something people have been requesting for a really long time.
“The market potential for mobile gaming to surpass PC and console is huge.”
Another big factor as to why Vainglory has been successful as a mobile esport is the sheer fact that while millions of people around the globe possess computers, billions posses smartphones and tablets. The market potential for mobile gaming to surpass PC and console is huge simply because way more people have smartphones and tablets rather than PCs. It is evidenced by the fact that in North America organisations like Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Echo Fox and in Europe, G2, SK Gaming, Team Secret and Fnatic have all signed teams. That makes it really possible for Vainglory to be the next major esport.
“I think that Super Evil Megacorp, more than any other game developer in the world, listens to what players in the community have to say”
I think the appeal is simply the fact that this game can be played anywhere and at any time. I had a teammate back in October 2015 who was standing in line to board a plane play a competitive game that qualified us to attend Season 2 of the Vainglory International Premier League (VIPL).
Had Vainglory been a PC based game that never would have been possible and I would not be living my dream job as a professional gamer today.
Esports Insider: Why do you think other developers haven’t taken after SEMC and made similar (or up to par) mobile games after so much success from Vainglory?
FlashX: I think that’s actually a really good question that I’m not sure I have the correct answer for, unfortunately. I think that now that Vainglory has been worked on for three plus years that developers may feel like they’re too far behind to rush to market. However, I wouldn’t be surprised that a company like Blizzard has now seen proof of concept that they may produce a competing title later on down the road.