For their regular meals, they have a Korean chef that makes them all three meals. “I think over the years, I’ve been forced to like Korean food,” said Apollo. “I think if I didn’t I wouldn’t be on a team.” He laughed thinking about it.
Pirean nodded in agreement. “Sometimes you eat more than me. You really like Korean food.” As they say, you are what you eat. And Koreans are winning Worlds, so…
Here is my assessment of Stout Burgers and Beers: it’s not ramen. I don’t want to go into too much depth about how the egg melting in my mouth complimented the crunchy bacon perfectly — I’m not a food critic. I just know it wasn’t ramen. I like burgers, but I love ramen. Which is all to say I can’t recommend this place if you’re looking for ramen. But if you’re looking for burgers, then it was quite good. And being that it was a street away from the ocean, you can’t really top the view.
All of that was a great surprise to Nisqy, who upon stepping out of the restaurant looked westward and exclaimed, “Whoa! Is that the ocean?”
Echo Fox — Tsujita Artisan Noodles
“I’ll prove my worth. I’m one of the best for sure,” said Austin “Gate” Yu. We were not talking about League of Legends. We were talking about being able to handle spices and assembling a strike squad to hit different spice challenges across Los Angeles. I just told him I’d take the quote a little out of context. Do with it what you will.
Tsujita Artisan Noodles is one of the most famous ramen joints in West Los Angeles. It’s located in a neighborhood most people refer to as Sawtelle, where countless other Japanese restaurants stand, including at least five other ramen places. This is one of the streets where you’d be most likely to randomly run into a professional player. For example, we ran into Gold Coin United coach Yoon-sub “Locodoco” Choi and some players from his team as we were being seated.
We are joined by his bot lane partner, Yuri “Keith” Jew — the two of them are some of the friendliest people you’d ever meet. Gate was actually just at Tsujita two days before seeing me because the Echo Fox organization was hosting “Fox Con” in Los Angeles — a gathering of over some fifty people involved with the organization. Gate went out for dinner with Street Fighter V pro, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi. This was about a week before EVO, where Tokido went on to win the Street Fighter V Championship. You might call it a “coincidence” or a “small sample size” but to me it’s irrefutable proof that you should get dinner with Gate before a major event in your life. He is, perhaps, the Gateway to heaven.
As for his superstitions? Bananas. “We’re all just monkeys on the inside so we just need our bananas,” he said. LCS pros seem to all favor bananas as a pre-game snack. “I feel like at some point there was some science behind it that I was told, so I said okay, and now I just eat bananas. I don’t eat protein bars anymore. Maybe someone said if you eat a banana before every game, you will win everything. Maybe a monkey snuck into the LCS and told me. I will go out of my way to eat one because I think it has super powers.”
Echo Fox is a bit of an outlier in the NA LCS. Owner Rick Fox is beloved by fans thanks to his charismatic personality and the affection he shows towards his players. His background in the NBA may be one of the reasons FOX became the first team to decline scrims with teams outside of their organization and instead opting to field a 10 man roster that plays against each other internally. Because of this, their family unit is much bigger than the other teams.
They live in two separate houses in Beverly Hills and also have an office they walk to where they actually practice. “We have a chef so we convene at the main house for food,” said Gate. “Everyone eats there.” You start to learn things about people pretty quickly. I asked if anybody at the house had weird eating habits.
“Froggen is really picky about his food,” said Gate. “Our chef does a good job catering to him. He’s literally a kid and doesn’t eat vegetables. He’s like a four year old. She cooks separately for him — I think it’s awesome. Definitely if it has vegetables, he’s like, ‘I don’t like these vegetables.'”
Gate on the other hand said he eats everything. He’ll try it and most likely enjoy it. “I didn’t like eggplant, though,” he said. “Actually, my mom told me it’s a Chinese staple. I’m disappointing her.”
Of the two, you can tell Gate is the more talkative one. It makes sense that he’s willing to try any sort of food. He said when he orders wings, he just randoms the flavor. Same with ice cream pints — a guilty snack for him — he just goes to store and grabs something random. “It’s a new adventure every time,” he said. He first gained acclaim in the pro scene for playing three different roles in basically as many weeks — it seems all random all the time is a good fit for him.
A 10-man roster makes for boisterous meal times, but I imagine splitting the work office from where they live and sleep makes it easier for everyone to manage their personal space and energy. This, to me, is what it means to have good backing and investment in your team and is what players mean when they talk about NA infrastructure.
It is at times a little too high end for Gate, though. “I want to go out and eat bad food but everything costs $30. There’s no taco trucks. Nothing $5.”
“We just live across from some car companies. And a piano shop,” added Keith.
Gate laughed. “I can’t afford it! It’s too nice.”
Their chef cooks a lot of Korean food, but also makes plenty of American dishes. Otherwise, they’re left to forage on their own at night as well. They order the likes of Chipotle or Wingstop. Or in Keith’s case, instant noodles. He buys Korean brand fire chicken noodles — as does Looper. Looper otherwise seems to have plenty of subsidies from his fan girls in China. They send him crates of snacks at a time.
From what I gathered, the Echo Fox squads have developed a good kinship with each other. One of the things about traditional scrims against other teams is that they don’t talk after the sets. FOX has the ability to communicate with each other before and after the games, and if need-be in the middle. They can cater the situation as they please instead of just trying to win the scrim.
FOX, without a doubt, is a family unit. The two of them still talked to their parents regularly though — this seemed to be a common trend across the board for the players. Most of them kept up with their folks.
“My mom always nags me to call her on Skype,” said Gate. “So I usually do it. My mom is like my coach. She doesn’t know how the game works, but she says, ‘I feel like you should do this or that.’ I can’t tell what’s good advice — I feel like it’s all good [that she gives me] as long as I interpret it a specific way. She says a lot of random things about game. And I say, ‘Yeah maybe that’s true.’ Like she says, ‘If I were playing Blitz, I would have hooked this guy.'” He laughed thinking about her.