It has been a great split for Fnatic. Though it took some time for the revamped squad to find each other, their second half of the 2022 LEC Spring Split was dominant. Their five veterans of four different teams found synergy and Fnatic shot to the top of the LEC standings. Ultimately they finished the regular Split in second place, and now head into the playoffs with G2 Esports in their crosshairs.
After Fnatic’s win over Team BDS on Friday, Fnatic support Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov spoke to Inven Global. He discussed his own performance and the narrative that he’s being considered as one of the Most Valuable Players of the Spring Split. Hylissang also reflected on his team’s progress so far in the year, and the pivotal role that his new mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda played in getting the team in sync.
It's been a very successful regular Split for Fnatic—you're probably feeling elated about the team's performance.
Oh yes, I feel very happy after today. Especially because I played the new champion, Renata Glasc, and I enjoyed that game so much. It looked pretty strong! [Laughs] I'm not sure why other people didn't play her, actually. I think she was not picked or banned, if I'm not mistaken. But I think she's pretty strong.
Well, sometimes when new champions arrive, it takes pros a bit to get confident with them. This was also the first week she was available. What gave you the confidence to lock her in?
That's true. But I played her quite a lot in solo queue, practiced a bit in scrims as well. I don't really have trouble playing champs that are not that popular, like Pyke, a blind Rakan, or just a new champ. I don't really struggle with that. Honestly, I just do it for myself. I just wanna see how it'll look on stage, how it is to play them. I'm really happy that my teammates trust me and I'm able to do my own thing, in a way.
"I don't think I've been doing anything differently. I just have a really good team right now."
It worked out well for you! That said, you've had quite an impressive Split overall. You're in conversations for MVP of the Split. Do you feel as well that you've been playing at a better level consistently than in previous years?
Ehm, I'm not sure if I've been playing better than before. Maybe I've been dying less, in a way. Also, there is a lot of attention for me from casters and other people. I don't know what's up with that. Maybe it's because they think I'm playing better, but honestly, I don't really feel that way. I feel like my team is playing really good. [Laughs] When you're support and your team is playing really good, it's so easy to make stuff happen and be at the right place at the right time. I don't think I've been doing anything differently. I just have a really good team right now. [Upset] is helping me a lot and we're smashing bot lane quite often.
Honestly, I think it's even a meme right now, that support is driving the bot lane. I feel like AD carries are driving the bot lane right now. Managing the wave properly, taking the good trades when you can... support is just there to back you up in a way. I think [Upset] is doing really good. I would like to shout him out and give him some love back, since he always put me in front of him whenever he could in the past. Now it feels like I'm getting all the spotlight. I don't feel like I need that. I really feel like [Upset's part] is something that's overlooked. We go as a duo and we're doing well together.
There are a few things there I want to follow up on, but let's continue with your synergy with Upset first. Last year, you quickly developed into a strong duo. Is everything natural in the cooperation now?
Yeah, of course. We match very well. We speak to each other every day. We speak about the little things, about the big things, and we're just very good friends. It's nice to enjoy the game and also enjoy your time outside the game. That's what we're having and it's very easy to work things out between us.
What are those small things and big things you discuss which each other? Stuff like matchups and drafts et cetera?
For sure we're talking about matchups and about the lane. There are so many little things in every different matchup that we can do better, and that's what we're mainly focussing on. Also where we should be and what we should be doing after the laning phase. But it's mainly purely the laning phase. When to place wards, what our position should be, how to engage the trades, timings for basing... [Upset] takes a lot of care of drafts, for example.
"[Humanoid] is teaching us every week where to be on the map in the mid-game and what we should be doing."
We've heard your head coach Yamato say that he sometimes has to pull you two apart because you spend so much time talking to each other.
[Laughs] That's true. Whenever we have scrims finished, me and him always go over the review and check out the little trades, how we could have done something better, what we did well. Just seeing it again to remember it, and then in the next game we'll be like "Do you remember how we traded in that game?" We just remind each other of those things. It's pretty nice.
You also mentioned earlier that you feel your whole team has been playing well. There was perhaps a bit of a warmup period—which is natural when so many players from different teams come together—but now Fnatic seems to be gelling well indeed. How has it been to get everyone on the same page?
There was a lot of struggle at the beginning for sure. Even for me, it took a while to see the game how [Humanoid] would see it. He is teaching us every week where to be on the map in the mid-game and what we should be doing. It's so perfectly crystal clear in his brain. We're still learning from his point of view. In the beginning, it was kind of hard to see where we should be staying and where we should be going, but also, the communication wasn't that great. We'd be talking about stuff that should not be talked about in the game. I think this was distracting me, so it was a bit harder for me to play.
But I think, with time, it's for sure getting better and better to have more useful and efficient communication. We understand the game way better. It's more natural for us to know where we should be as a team. But yeah, in the beginning, we were relying more on individual play rather than teamwork and collective plays.
It's interesting that Humanoid, who is new to the team, is taking that leadership role. Did that form naturally?
It was natural for sure. Even when he was in MAD Lions, one week before we played against them I was studying the games, rewatching his Pro View. I was already learning so much from that. I was very comfortable going into the games. So, even back in the day, I was looking up how he was playing, how he was playing with his support. Where they're going out of the base, where they're putting vision... I was learning so much. When he joined our team, it was natural. In reviews, he is saying "We should do this and this, we did that good, we did that wrong." It was natural for him to speak up and teach us. Other people are doing it too, but he is the main one.
"I think there is a lot to improve on still. (...) I would say we're at like 70%"
We see Fnatic perform super well now and you're spoken of as the strongest team heading into the playoffs. Of course, you can always improve, but compared to where you think this team can be, how far along are you?
I can't really say how far we are, but I think there is a lot to improve on still. We still make some mistakes outside of the laning phase. Laning phase is a different thing that we can always improve on, but as a team, there is a lot more to work on. Communication-wise it's still not perfect. I would say we're at like, 70% if you're asking me percentage-wise. But there is a lot more room to improve on. We're learning from every single game and it's been really pleasant to be able to learn from every single game.
You're heading into the playoffs in the upper bracket. Best-of-fives are a different beast than best-of-ones. How are you feeling about the playoffs? Are there any particular teams you think can crumble or rise?
Ehm, not really forward to anything. I'm just curious to see how we are playing in best-of-fives since everything is a bit different. This will be our first best-of-fives. I just want to see if we're gonna be resilient if stuff doesn't go our way and if we're gonna be able to bounce back. Or are we gonna stomp and is there gonna be no trouble? I'm just curious to see how we're gonna perform when it's not best-of-ones, where you can cheese your way out of a game.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.