For the first time in LEC history, a grand final match didn't include one of Fnatic or G2. Fnatic's run ended early in the lower bracket of the Spring Split playoffs, but G2 Esports made it farther, until the collective assault of MAD Lions and Rogue eliminated them and ended their four-in-a-row split win streak.
MAD and Rogue then ended in the final, with fans still dismayed by G2's ousting. Five games and one reverse sweep later, MAD Lions erupted in joy as they hoisted their first LEC trophy and tickets to the Mid-Season Invitational.
After an emotional final, Inven Global sat down with Rookie of the Split Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla to talk about how his team ended the G2 era and what he's looking forward to at MSI.
Congratulations on winning your first finals! That was a really close set — you guys were narrowly able to win 3-2. Did Rogue feel different from when you played them last?
Yeah, I think they were quite different. I think they have improved a lot, and they were playing way more aggressively when they had to, which was the thing that they were lacking I think last time. Yeah, I think they are still as solid as they were last time in the early game, but I think their mid game improved a lot. And I think they were way better this time.
In the last three games, you seemed to be playing your standard great playstyle, but you faltered in the first two games? What do you think caused this?
I think in Game 1 that everyone was not on the same page. I think also the draft was not the best. So game 1 was kind of a mess. I would say like everything. And game 2, we should have for sure won that game. I think we threw it on some really silly mistakes that cost a lot of the game. Yeah, I think that those were like the two big things.
It was a historical final: MAD Lions and Rogue both beating out G2 Esports to compete in the last matchup of the tournament. What do you think the reason for G2 faltering was? They were dominant in the regular season, did they seem different in the playoffs?
I think it was us being different, not them. I think that we had a really good read on the meta, and everyone was really comfortable with the way we were playing. So I think it was mostly more on us than on them. I think they have been the same during the whole split. I think they didn't change much. And I think their transition to the meta was a bit slow, too. I think that's it for the most part.
You've been a particularly dominant player this year, one of the best players in the league. You've won Europe's Rookie of the Split and the finals of the LEC. Did you expect this result? How does this meta suit your playstyle, and how does the team suit your playstyle?
I think that my expectations for the year were kind of winning: in my first split, I wanted to reach finals, and my goal for the second split was I wanted to win LEC. But, I ended up winning LEC in my first split so I guess that's pretty good [laughs] and also getting Rookie of the Split, and MVP of the Split. Those were kind of my goals for this year. At the moment I have accomplished them, yet in the first split rather than the next split. And yeah, that's it. [laughs]
What has it been like learning from the rest of the team?
I think Humanoid is really smart about the game. And I think he understands how the game should be played pretty well. So yeah, he kind of helped me a lot over the course of the year. I think he kind of helped me a lot in learning how to play in this league.
Who are some of the other junglers that you've been impressed by? What's your confidence like compared to the rest of Europe's junglers?
I don't know actually, I think it's really hard. I think top 3 of junglers. I don't think I'm able to put myself on one or like two or three because I don't know what the other teams give in terms of compositions with the team. But I think I'm top 3. And the Jungler that has surprised me the most I would say is Inspired. I think he's had a really, really good split. And kind of the same for us. I think also Razork performed very well too, I think he is like a really good Jungler and solid.
You're now going to enter your first major international competition. What do you think you need to work on to be able to do your best in that environment?
I think mechanically I need to work in order to be at the same level as Canyon or whoever from LPL goes. Also in our team, I think in the early game, everyone needs some progress they rarely give me in our team in order to be able to fight those teams.
How do you see yourself stacking up against the other top junglers in other regions for MSI?
I think with Blaber, it's going to be a fine matchup, I don't think that there is a clear favorite. But against Canyon and whoever from LPL comes, I think they're better. I'm really going to have to step up my gameplay in order to be able to match them. I think they are really good.
Obviously, for that matchup, it's not just you versus Canyon, but you and Humanoid versus Canyon and ShowMaker. You talked a little bit about him teaching you, but what has it been like playing with Humanoid in comparison to other mid laners you've worked with in the past?
Yeah, I think he's really smart, and he knows how to get into fights, he knows what compositions to take. He really knows what to do in order for him to be ahead. So if I can keep up with the enemy jungler, I think that we are going for sure to be fine.
Thanks so much for the interview Elyoya, and congratulations on your victories. To end off, what do you think MAD Lions has going for itself entering MSI, and what do you need to do in order to win?
I think we excel at mid game. I think that in our mid game we're really fast at engaging at the right opportunities and seeing when the enemy makes mistakes. I think early games should be the big part we should work on and if we can take some advantage. I think we can take over DAMWON or the first seed of LPL. But I think it's going to be hard to get those early advantages.
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