Helming the mid lane at Vitality, Adam "LIDER" Ilyasov is preparing for his true debut in the LEC. After spending four years in the leagues below the LEC — a productive journey that brought him one EU Masters and one Prime League trophy — the Norseman will try to make the playoffs of Europe's premier competition and from there, who knows, perhaps Worlds?
LIDER spoke to Inven Global's Yohan Markov on how he joined Vitality, what offers he received but never finalized, and the reason he didn't don the black-and-orange of Fnatic ahead of the 2021 Spring Split.
Welcome to the LEC! How do you feel after you finally received this opportunity? Were you expecting it mid-split or more like next year?
I guess I kind of expected it both mid-split and at the end of the year as well. Seemed like the mid split one would be less likely than the end of the year one but still, it was not out of the question for me. It’s nice to be back again, it doesn't feel like I am back again, it feels like I am here for the first time kind of, that I finally got the opportunity.
Last year you were playing really well but you didn't join the LEC for 2021 Spring split. Why do you think that was the case? Were there no offers or was there another reason?
There were offers from three teams, but all the three teams — Fnatic, Excel, and SK — went all their different ways. For XL, it seemed I kind of was their second option and for SK, I think they demanded a little bit too much anyway, so I would not join if I didn’t meet the requirements. And Fnatic went with another option and one of the reasons would be that Bwipo didn’t want to be on the same team as me.
You would have already gotten the partnership with Selfmade...
Yeah, it’s true but it’s fine, I prefer it this way. I am happy that I didn’t get an opportunity half a year ago. This is much better, I think.
You will be playing with one of the best junglers in Europe. Do you think the mid-jungle duo of Vitality will be the winning recipe for your games?
I think it’s gonna be a factor. The winning recipe would be all five of us working together well and getting there, but I think mid-jungle has always been a big part of the game historically. We will be good, as long as we know how to play well and cover for each other.
I have been asking around and the general public opinion is that this Vitality roster is a hit or miss. How do you comment on that?
I think this is really troll to say, “hit or miss”. It doesn’t even make any sense to say “it’s hit or miss” except if you have five Hylissangs on one team but there never are five Hylissangs on one team ever and there never will be. I think Hylissang is a player of his own, I don’t think there is anyone similar to him. I expect us to at least be in the middle of the pack or playoffs at least.
What do you think of the current mid lane talent pool in the LEC right now?
If I compare everyone to the best mid laners in the world like Rookie, Chovy, Knight, all of these, then the only good ones are Larssen, Caps, and Humanoid.
So you don’t think the mid lane pool is that strong?
I don’t know, has it ever been like strong-strong? That’s what I am wondering. I guess when Humanoid and Larssen got better then it became kind of strong. It’s so hard to say because Caps is like the best one right now. For a couple of years, he has been the best one and the closest ones to him are Humanoid and Larssen so I don’t think the mid lane pool has ever been really strong.
I think mid lane right now is not in the most powerful spots compared to previous years. What do you think of the meta right now and do you think it suits you?
I think one of the reasons that I was happy that I was getting a chance in the LEC is because the meta is almost too perfect for me. But I think if you are good on those champions that are meta, you will be able to have as much impact as you had before, but you need to be… not smarter exactly, but more open-minded, I would say, and play a little bit out of comfort, or how control mages were played.
You have a different champion pool compared to the other mid laners, you love playing assassins and melee champions which I think is an underrated quality because not all players could play those types of champions in the LEC but should we expect something more?
I am always expanding my champion pool, to be honest. With every new champion or champions that have been proven playable in the mid lane I would always play them, as long as they suit the other kits or are similar to them.
What do you think of the overall level of the LEC after those mid-split changes and roleswaps? How and which of these role swaps will have success in your opinion? How many will fail?
I think the SK one is going to fail miserably and I think the FNC one is honestly not too bad. I think it’s fine. That’s my opinion.
So you think that Bwipo is actually not made for top lane?
Yeah, he is good at the game but it doesn’t feel like he is playing top lane properly. Maybe jungle is the perfect role for him.
You will be playing with a promising rookie top laner SLT. Could you share your current observations of him?
I am impressed that he is taking all criticism really well, he is improving always and he is really good. He exceeded my expectations.
Vitality really struggled in Spring, but they made a lot of major changes in the off-season. They got you, they got Selfmade... What kind of improvement, placement-wise, do you think that's worth? Do you think you will be fighting with Fnatic for the 4th spot?
That’s like the only team I would say that can properly challenge us but then again, I think us, FNC, G2, MAD, Rogue — it feels that anyone from those five can be top 2.
As a team, what is your first objective before the start of the season?
I want to win and I think everyone on this team wants to win, that’s why we are here, right? We obviously want to win everything but having expectations is a different thing than the goal. Expectations is to “making playoffs” and the goal is to “win everything”.