RLCS Player Of The Year: One Giant Leap For M0nkey M00n
Rocket League esports has had some stalwarts of the scene that may not be the most mechanically flamboyant players of the game, but have the foundations nailed to a tee. The likes of the four-times World Champion Pierre "Turbopolsa" Silfver and Championship Sunday Alexandre "Kaydop" Courant often get the plaudits, but this year a new champion was born, and their playmaker has stood out from the rest of the pack: Evan "M0nkey M00n" Rogez.
Team BDS' rise through the ranks of RLCS is one of the fantasy stories you hear about in the movies. The small-town college football team who find themselves going for glory in a gauntlet of a tournament, only to keep stunning the world game by game until they've found themselves at the top of the tree accompanied by the elite.
Maintaining Riches Beyond Belief
For Team BDS, the Rival Series was their warm-up, and the exciting yet unproven Alex "Extra" Paoli filtered over from the bottom-placed RLCS side AS Monaco as the organisation became another of the mainstream sports squads that became expendable. Going into RLCS X it was three underdogs with nothing to prove, yet everything to gain, and by January 1 of 2021, BDS had just completed a feat that nobody would have imagined, being crowned as Regional Champions, having come from nothing.
Despite doing the unthinkable, Team BDS was still discarded as serious contenders, as the likes of Team Vitality, Giants Gaming, and Top Blokes remained hot favourites to take back the crown from these 'flukey' champions.
But for M0nkey M00n and BDS, this was no fairy tale, and they were here to stay. 2021 started in a similar fashion for the French-based roster (an omen in itself for winning dominance in Rocket League), with the first Regional Minor going in their ever-expanding trophy cabinet before bagging themselves another Major title with the Winter Split, overcoming Vitality once more. Here, M0nkey M00n put his name on the map once and for all.
Flying up against the pillar of consistency in Kaydop, and arguably the best mechanical player in Europe at the time in Yanis "Alpha54" Champenois, M0nkey M00n's raw ability and goal creation was truly formidable. Whether it was the mastering of the Flip Reset, harnessing a touch of David "Deevo" Morrow by nailing every double touch imaginable, or becoming much more accustomed to the ceiling meta, M0nkey M00n was doing it all, and embarrassing the best in the business - well, second best.
A Giant Leap For M0nkey-kind
As a recognised astronaut in RLCS, majestically soaring through the air before caressing the ball into the goal time after time, M0nkey M00n was being quickly dubbed as the best player in the game, but questions remained over his consistency. As with the format being the most strenuous it ever has been, no player had performed at such heights for a lengthy period of time, with the average season normally spanning for three months.
Many had tried, but a one-season wonder was coming more frequent, in Europe at least. Maëllo "AztraL" Ernst of Season 9, Dan "bluey." Bluett the season prior, and before him, the birthing of Kyle "Scrub Killa" Robertson, neither star had gone back-to-back seasons as the best player on the planet. But M0nkey M00n was repeating quality with each passing Major, and the third and final split was no different.
Alongside his attractive attacking partner Marc "MaRc_By_8" Domingo, and in front of the pivot Extra, M0nkey M00n was taking every stride towards greatness with ease and composure, maintaining levels of consistency that European 'pop-off' talent only dreamt of. Further success landed for Team BDS in the Winter Split, with M0nkey M00n posting his highest average score of the season across 26 matches at the Major.
Also averaging 1.8 saves per game, the young Frenchman was kitting out his entire palette of skills. With a defensive touch came relentless pressure, having a knack of forcing opponents into saves for his teammates to follow up on and slam home. With nearly four shots per game, M0nkey filtered between pressure and precision to confuse defences, and a similar fate was faced by Vitality, as Team BDS became hat-trick heroes in Europe, taking home all three Majors.
If consistency was a trademark attribute, it would have M0nkey M00n's name slapped to it like a tag - the Musty Flick, Squishy Save, M0nkey M00n Levels - as his stupendous form continued in the RLCS 2021-22 Major, where Team BDS put the icing on top of arguably the most dominant era that Rocket League has ever seen. Taking to the first international event of the year, Team BDS proved that they are not to be taken as an "online team" and ripped through the competition and beating the reigning World Champions NRG in straight best-of-seven sets to take home the Major Championship gold medals.
A Near-Perfect Finish And Personal Accolades
In just six months, M0nkey M00n had shown more consistency than any other European attacker had in years, even with the meta rapidly evolving. With titles to his name, all that eluded M0nkey was the cherry on top of the cake, as Vitality finally got one over on their rivals, nipping a flawless RLCS X run in the bud at the European Championships. Taking back-to-back sets against BDS, M0nkey still walked away with a silver medal for the season, and the respect on his name that he deserved.
Prior to the RLCS 2021-22 season, a first personal accolade was handed to M0nkey M00n, as at the mere age of 19, he was crowned as the Esports Awards' choice for Controller Rookie of the Year, showing his worldwide reputation was growing and being appreciated.
Rocket League Esports underwent a huge shift going into their tenth season, pioneering new formats to help catapult the esport into a higher and more recognised tier. With 2021 as the biggest year in Rocket League history, Team BDS' M0nkey M00n landed with both feet firmly on the ground and took one giant leap towards being the best player in the world.