“It’s going alright I guess.”
It’s Galen “Moon” Holgate’s third press interview of the afternoon. Before this, he shot video features with Riot Games. Before that, fan meets outside of the LCS Arena in Santa Monica, CA. Before that, a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Team SoloMid in the 2017 League of Legends Championship Series Spring semifinals.
After such a decisive loss, all FlyQuest jungler can do is shrug and smile.
A week ago, after FlyQuest eked out a 3-2 victory over Counter Logic Gaming, Moon sat in the same press box chair, leaned back and said, “Fuck, TSM look so good.”
This week it’s much of the same, albeit with the loss fresh in his mind.
“I think TSM is just way too good,” he says, shaking his head. “We didn’t play as well as we should have today but TSM is really good and they punished our mistakes. We can’t get away with as much versus them.”
Known for initially stepping back and studying their opponents, TSM are most exploitable as adversaries in the first game of a series. Leaning back in his chair, Moon admits that FlyQuest’s loss in Game 1 had more to do with their own mistakes rather than Team SoloMid’s strengths.
“I don’t think it was them playing super well but we kind of trolled, a lot of people died solo, I tried to do that Gragas play,” he says, laughing. “And we were honestly just hyphy. They’re better and we would have to win hyphy match, some 1v1 fighting. It didn’t work out in Game 1 and then Games 2 and 3 were worse. Game 1 was the good game for us.”
Throughout their strong start, messy middle, and lackluster end to the split, FlyQuest’s play was always varied. Strong team coordination wasn’t always enough to make up for teams that traded objectives better, dragging FlyQuest around the map. As a result, FlyQuest became known as the team that surprised opponents using unconventional picks and cheesy level 1 plays.
Yet, against CLG in the quarterfinals and TSM in the semifinals, FlyQuest — outside of one Moon Evelynn pick in Game 5 against CLG — stuck to standard champion choices.
“We started losing with our cheese picks,” Moon admits. “And when you start losing with your cheese picks, everyone just starts losing hope in them. I think as a team we just said, ‘Alright, we have to stop this.’”
He leans back again in his chair and laughs. The house lights come up in the LCS arena as loud banging is heard from the crew breaking down the stage. They begin wrapping the LCS gaming chairs, wheeling them out to be packed onto a truck for the finals in Vancouver, BC. Moon looks out of the window at the stage for a moment before returning to his thought.
“Losing when you pick cheese feels way way worse than losing when you’re just playing regular stuff,” he says. “When you pick cheese and lose it’s like, ‘What if we didn’t pick that champion?’ or ‘What if we didn’t pick complete shit.’ There’s a lot of series where we would pick cheese, lose, and then be like, ‘Well, we’re the better team, why are we trying to cheese them if we’re the better team?’ Maybe if this series went to five games or something we would have seen something unique but it didn’t work out like that.”
Summing up the season in one word, followed by a sentence, Moon first says, “Wishy-washy.” Not in the team’s resolve or determination, but in their onstage performances. For better or for worse, FlyQuest were always defying audience presumptions, regardless of how high or low they happened to be set.
“I think we did a lot better than beginning expectations,” he says. “At the start of the split everyone was putting us tenth or ninth so no doubt about it, we did way better than people expected us to in the beginning. But, once we went 6-1, everyone’s expectations changed into being one of the top teams and I don’t think that we reached those expectations. We are top four, which is technically a top team but we got completely destroyed by TSM and the CLG match was really close.”
While FlyQuest was burdened with the community’s forecast of their own failure, especially at the start of the split, Moon had his own expectations to defy. An eleventh-hour addition to the roster after their first choice fell through, Moon’s LCS pedigree was not the most impressive. Although he showed flashes of cleverness and an aggressive nature while on NRG, he was most known for his non-existent early game.
“I’m hard on myself so I only look at my mistakes,” he says. “I think a lot of people respect me now, but I feel like it’s a temporary respect, and people can lose it really easily if I start playing bad. I want to keep that respect. I played really well this split and I showed that I’m a solid player and a solid jungler, but I want them to actually respect me.”
Throughout the 2016 NA LCS Spring regular season on NRG, Moon had the lowest gold differential at 10 minutes, lowest CS per minute, lowest damage per minute, and lowest team damage percentage of any NA jungler that split. On FlyQuest, Moon finished the season third in experience differential at 10 minutes and third in CS differential at 10 minutes. His statistics improved in every statistical category and FlyQuest as a team was fourth overall in gold differential at 15 minutes. Moon was a key part of any and all of FlyQuest’s early game pressure.
Many of Moon’s prior coaches and teammates weren’t surprised at the jungler’s sudden turnaround, saying that he always had it in him. But he had suffered from stage fright, something that Moon has confirmed himself on multiple occasions.
When confronted with this change in his personality, Moon struggles to put it into words.
“I feel like I was pretty consistent throughout the split. I think I’ve just improved as a player. I’m a lot more confident as a person . . . not in game,” he says, pausing. “It’s so hard to explain. I don’t know what changed in me but I feel like from TLA to this team I just don’t have nerves anymore and I’m a shit-ton more confident as a person. I don’t really know what changed, I don’t know. It’s not like I got insanely better. If anything I should have been more nervous on this team — I was a last-minute addition, I had a week of practice with the team, I was situated yet, if anything I should have been the most nervous on this team.”
After another long pause he shrugs and smiles again.
“I guess I’ve just grown up? I guess I’m not a kid anymore?”
He laughs, as if this is the first time he’s put his growth into context. For a jungler who, going into the split was ranked lower than most of his NA counterparts, fourth place isn’t a bad finish, but it’s still nowhere near where Moon wants to be.
“We could be seventh we could be first we could go to Worlds,” he says, talking about his expectations of himself and FlyQuest next split. “I don’t see us going to relegations, no matter how hard we flop, I think we should make playoffs. Let’s go to Worlds, I want to go to Worlds.”
Emily Rand’s love for the 2013 KT Rolster Bullets will never die. You can follow her on Twitter @leagueofemily