Few players have as much pressure on their back as Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla. The star Spanish jungler is coming of two LEC titles and a playoff qualification at Worlds. However, his team MAD Lions has plenty of new challenges to overcome. His team just lost two of their most important players — Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság and Marek "Humanoid" Brázda — leading to new responsibilities for the jungler’s sophomore season.
In addition to having to play with more inexperienced teammates, Elyoya will now be the primary shotcaller. Inven Global had the chance to speak with Elyoya, to discuss his thoughts on MAD Lions’ roster, his opinions on the competing junglers in Europe, and his current performance.
I know last year in Summer Split regular season you were very disappointed with your individual play. This year, MAD don’t have the best record, but you have some of the best stats for a jungler. How have you felt about your play?
I don't think stats say much. Even though I consider myself one of the best junglers right now, I feel like I'm still doing many mistakes. I just feel like the average level of junglers is really low this Split, at least in Europe. So I don't even consider myself at a good level. I think I have many, many things to get in shape before going into playoffs. Overall, I'm fine with my playstyle. I'm not happy, I think I'm still doing too many mistakes. But yeah, I would say one of the best in Europe?
When I spoke with you last you said the mechanical aspect was the biggest thing you needed to work on? Does that still hold true, or where do your priorities lie in what you’re most trying to improve on?
I think there are too many things to improve on right now [laughs]. But yeah, obviously the mechanics — I don't think I'm... Like, among the best, I think I am a mechanically average player. Maybe fine sometimes, but I feel like I still need to play much more solo queue coming into playoffs and also to prep in-game stuff like shotcalling how to guide a team in the mid-game.
Looking at the offseason, how worried were you when Carzzy and Humanoid left? What were your expectations coming into the split?
My expectation's always to win everything. I hold myself to high standards. So I still have the same expectations as I've always had. I think it's harder, because I think Humanoid and Carzzy were two big pieces. But I feel like these two rookies are gonna introduce a lot into the team. And we just need to give them some time and space to grow. And then, they're gonna be really good players. So for this Spring Split, I think that my personal expectations should be winning. But I think the team could be just happy if we can reach finals. I think that would be already pretty good.
I spoke with Mac last week, who mentioned you have taken over most of the in-game leadership. What’s this change been like for you?
I think it's certainly hard. I feel like all the shotcalling right now relies on me, which is something that is not easy, because you're just a bit alone sometimes and everything can be chaotic. But yeah, I'm fine with it, I like having a lot of responsibility. And I love having pressure, because then if something goes wrong, I know who to blame, which is myself. So it's really easy for me. But yes, it's been hard and it makes me realize how bad I am at League still but at the same time, it's just gonna make me a better player.
Do you have much experience shotcalling in your previous teams?
Yeah, I have always shotcalled in every single team I've been with. But this year, it's a bit harder, I would say. I feel like every time I'm learning more about League, so I realize how bad I am, and I need to change my way of playing the game. There are many things I need to try to be good at. Last year it was more chill. I was still shotcalling — it was me and Humanoid. But I could just sometimes rely on him: if he just made a call, I would just follow it and I know it would be the correct one. And then I would be thinking on the next play, and then he's thinking on the next play. We would complement each other. But this year it's a bit more me but I think they're gonna catch up and at a certain point, it's going to be everyone talking. I think we're all gonna help each other, but right now I'm a bit soloing this aspect.
Since you’re taking charge more in-game, what do you see as the biggest playstyle differences between your play this year and last year’s?
Now, I might be more careful — I'm not so much of kill-focused, even though in some games I'm still inting. I just run in sometimes. But I try to focus more on what way to play, how to play the map, what are we paying for. And less of like trying to do solo plays.
What have been your impressions of Reeker and his relationship to the jungle compared to Humanoid?
I think the big difference is in mid because I feel like Humanoid is the best mid laner in Europe and Reeker is still learning. So it was hard for us to adapt at least for me, because it's a big difference. But at the same time, it's good that I have to adapt because it makes me be a better player.
And Reeker is catching up really fast. I would say at the beginning when he joined he was still playing a bit like solo queue — he wasn't really syncing with his jungler, he wasn't looking to involve himself in many plays. But right now he's catching up real fast and he's improving a lot. He's getting really, really, really good. So I think he just needs some more time because he actually spends a lot of time watching his own VODs and trying to improve, so that's something really good.
What overall playstyle difference have you noticed this split?
In 2021, we were playing much faster and much more aggressively. This year we are playing way slower, but without dropping so many waves. We are playing more gold-efficient, but slower.
With Inspired gone, Malrang has been someone many fans have thought has filled in his shoes well. What are your impressions of him and how he compares to Inspired?
I think they are two really different junglers. I think Inpsired was playing really efficiently and he was really good in the jungle... He would never skip tempo, he would always be where he has to be. He would be really efficient with his pathing, he would also be really good mechanically. So I think Inspired was a really solid jungler.
About Malrang, I feel like he's a bit of the opposite. I think he's also really solid, but I think he's more of... He's dropping many camps and he's putting a lot of pressure on the map. I think right now, he's the best performing jungler in the LEC but his playstyle is not so good. Once teams in EU start getting better and don't do that many mistakes that are getting punished by him— or just ganks that he's getting — I think his playstyle is not going to be as good. He's going to often create a bit of gold difference in the jungle because he's dropping many camps, unlike the rest of us. His pathing's not so efficient, but he's putting a lot of pressure and he's punishing a lot.
If you had to choose between facing Humanoid on Fnatic in the finals or Carzzy on Vitality, which would it be?
Humanoid on Fnatic. I want to beat Razork and Humanoid in the finals. Because I like them and they are both my friends, so I just want to beat them.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.