Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with FlyQuest’s Galen “Moon” Holgate during Week 1 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS). They talked about FlyQuest’s difficult first week, LCS franchising and how summer split goals might differ for Moon and the rest of FlyQuest.
Andrew Kim: FlyQuest is in a really interesting predicament because it seems like you guys still have a fair amount of expectations going into the summer split despite the complete lack of expectations from the last split. It’s gotta be a stark difference for you before the match, so was the team atmosphere or the mindset of the team any different before the summer split compared to the spring split?
Galen “Moon” Holgate: Yeah I guess before last split when I started playing, we were not having a good win rate in scrims, but everyone thought we would be terrible, so it was like “OK, we can only go up from there and exceed expectations.” This split our scrim record is kind of the same, a little bit worse than average but people have more expectations of us. I don’t think anything changed for us in game, but it’s definitely a different mindset.
AK: The last game between you guys and Echo Fox with a really weird decision from them to just run it down the mid lane with Froggen in the front and taking down the Nexus. I’m sure it was communicative chaos with what was going on at the moment. If you could describe how communications were at the moment when you guys realized that “Oh my god they’re just going to rush it down to the Nexus.”
GH: Pretty much just do what you can to stop them. We were calling out who to go on, who does the most damage to the Nexus. Hai was trying to recall and come from the front or something. It’s kind of all a blur to me now. I don’t think we identified that was an option for them until they started doing it. At that point, there was nothing we could have done. The game was over at that point, so it was a really good shot call from them. Really good decision making.
AK: When it comes to de-stressing coming from either a good game or a bad game, what’s your process when it comes to making sure that you’re in peak mental and physical conditioning before you go up on stage?
GH: Well I drink a lot of caffeine (laughs). That’s the No. 1 step. The second step is when I’m coming to the LCS, we have a 30-minute car ride, I just blast my music and I try to, I don’t know if it’s technically meditating, but I try to envision the game. Today I pretty much knew that I was going to be playing two games of Elise so I tried to envision Elise ganking, diving, stuff like that and I try to get myself hyped for the match. I’d say those are the two things I do and then after the game it really just depends. To me, this is the first game of the split. We just got WildTurtle (Jason Tran) last week. We only spent a week with him. To be fair, Echo Fox has been scrimming together for a month. They went to Korea. It’s just one game. If we keep losing then, at least I’ll be more stressed and I won’t be so OK afterwards. I’ll be a little bit more sad.
AK: What kind of music do you like to listen to?
GH: I just listen to rap, a lot of different artists. I have a playlist, it’s called “LCS Hype Playlist,” and I just listen to that. I actually just bought Apple’s AirPods, the wireless bluetooth ones, and people are kind of making fun of me for wearing them (laughs). They just look like white earrings. They don’t dangle down. I bought them, I’m getting made fun of, but they’re nice.
AK: I want to ask you about Riot’s decision to remove relegations, making permanent partners for the LCS, and shifting the way how the league is run. There are some conversations in the community saying that this is good because players can be more stable and focus on the game more, but there are some other people saying that the removal of relegation will result in seeing the same people in the same position and not improving much. What are your thoughts on the matter?
GH: I think franchising is good in the long term, like super long term. They’ll franchise next year and it’ll just kind of be the same for a year, maybe two years, in terms of me as a player. But I think later down the line, maybe four or five years from now, everything should be a lot better, and I think a lot of orgs will be trying a lot harder because they obviously want to get accepted. There should be a lot more content for the fans coming through to this split. I know we have a new video guy. I don’t know what our exact plan is for media content, but I know that we’re doing it now and we weren’t doing it last split, and I’m pretty sure every team that wasn’t doing it in the past is going to start doing it. Really solid content for the fans because that’s what Riot wants. Riot wants more content so more people watch LCS and they can make more money so the teams can make more money.
AK: It seems like you have a really firm grasp on what franchising means. A lot of hot takes seem to be around competitiveness or fairness or whatever organization gets picked up or not. Do you follow traditional sports? Where does this understanding of franchising come from?
GH: I don’t really follow them. I’m just using my brain (laughs). I don’t know exactly what’s public information, but I was told that this was public information, but if Riot makes X-amount of money from the league, and then they give money to the teams and the players, and if it exceeds X-amount of salary, or whatever like that. I don’t personally see myself getting more money for at least two more years, but after that I think (I will), so that’s why I think franchising is more about the super long term.
AK: Another thing outside the league is Echo Fox’s decisions to only scrim their sister team and signing what the fans are calling the “meme team” as their sister team. It reminds one when CJ Entus was doing it in Korea in a way to hide strategy from competitors, so I want to ask if you think that kind of team management strategy will work in the west as well.
GH: It has its pros and its cons. The pros are that you can do more specific practice like certain matchups. As long as your B team is good and they actually give you challenges in scrims, you can do a lot more specific training. The downside to it is that you don’t get to see other strategies because everyone has their own champion pools and stuff like that. There would be a lot of times when we scrim a certain team and then they’ll ban these three champions and they’ll prioritize these champions, so we’ll only get to practice against that all day. The next day another team does the complete opposite thing. You learn a lot from that. You play a lot against new stuff.
So for example Echo Fox, maybe their B team played a bunch of Ivern or something so they get used to playing with Ivern and then none of the other teams prioritize it and plays the counter into it or something like that. There are downsides and positives. I think it’s really interesting that they’re doing it. I don’t think it’s good to do, and I don’t see why they couldn’t have just scrimmed their Challenger team half the time and the LCS teams half the time. That seems really weird to me because they literally canceled all the scrims. They had all the scrims booked with LCS teams, but they just canceled them just last week.
AK: Looking at the secondary team they picked up, how do you they’ll measure up?
GH: They’re not scrimming the meme team, just the Delta Fox team, and Akaadian told me that they’re not doing well against them. Obviously scrims are scrims.
AK: Why do you think Echo Fox chose to hire former pros?
GH: They’re just doing it for branding. They’re playing in NA CS and I don’t even know if they’re practicing. I don’t think they really care. I think it’s really smart of them, I don’t know how much they’re spending. I’m assuming it’s a lot of money but I think it’s really good for branding. The buy in price for franchising is $10 million, so I don’t think they care if they spend a little extra to increase the chances to get into franchising. It’ll personally make me watch the NA CS. I want to see QTpie play again. They’ll probably be fine. I don’t think they’ll be better than GCU or eUnited, and I actually don’t know the other teams, but I think GCU and eUnited should be really good. I think they’ll be third or fourth place, even if they don’t practice.
AK: Going into summer split after a fairly successful spring, what kind of goal shifts happened, if they were any?
GH: It’s kinda weird for me because everyone on my team has been to worlds a bunch. If we made worlds, that would be insane for me. That would be the coolest thing ever. I‘ve never been, I’ve never made it far in playoffs or anything. I mean, I guess we got fourth place last split. I think the expectations for my team is they don’t make worlds, it would be a failure and I think a lot of my players would consider retiring and stuff like that if they don’t make worlds. So I think the expectations for me versus the rest of the team are different. We all want to make worlds, but it’s obviously different.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot