Fnatic’s 2022 LEC campaign has already gotten off to a flying start. Barring defeats to rivals G2 Esports and the juggernaut that is regular season Rogue, the team came into this weekend hoping to continue its solid run of form against 2021 Spring and Summer champions MAD Lions, as well as an Excel Esports side which had yet to register a win against Fnatic after 12 meetings.
While Fnatic was able to lock the MAD Lions back in their cage, the team was handed a shock defeat by Excel. Throughout the game, a familiar scene to many played out, as the two support masters of EU, Mihael ‘Mikyx’ Mehle and Zdravets ‘Hylissang’ Galabov, duelled to out-assert each other on the Rift.
Speaking to The Loadout after the Excel game, Hylissang remarks that “it’s always fun” to play against Mikyx – someone who he shares a similar playstyle with, making for a classic Western standoff every time the two have met over the years. “We always feel like we’re thinking the same thing in the game,” he says, “and whoever is a bit faster wins – or dies first and loses the game – but usually we’re doing the right things.”
Despite yesterday’s defeat to Mikyx and Excel, Hylissang has already re-asserted himself as one of the top supports in the league this season, chalking up four MVP awards so far this split. However, he feels like it’s business as usual, and it’s this new-look Fnatic side which is elevating his performance. “I feel like my teammates make me look better than usual,” he humbly states.
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Offering up an example, Hylissang praises Marek ‘Humanoid’ Brázda’s shotcalling, which he says has made his life easier. Furthermore, the sheer amount of game knowledge the former MAD Lions midlaner has brought over from his previous team is giving a Fnatic team that is hungry for learning plenty of food for thought.
“Now he [Humanoid] is here, he’s brought this element of being more aware of which side we should be playing and what we should be doing in the game,” Hylissang explains. “We’re still learning [from him], and I for sure am learning a lot.”
Another major learning experience for Hylissang so far this split has come through developing synergy with Iván ‘Razork’ Díaz. Following the departure of long-time teammate Gabriël ‘Bwipo’ Rau – a player Hylissang himself enjoyed a close working relationship with – Razork was brought in from Misfits Gaming to take on jungle duty.
“He’s a fun and cool dude,” Hylissang says. “We still haven’t played much with each other, and it takes a while to build a bond like Bwipo and I had, but I really like playing with him and enjoy his company as well.”
Noting Razork’s eagerness to learn and apply himself, Hylissang is confident that it’s “just a matter of time” before the pair become a potent jungle/support pivot. But for now, he feels that they aren’t quite marching to the same beat just yet.
“Often he feels like he should be doing something, and I feel like he should be doing it later on,” Hylissang admits, “so it doesn’t look clean in-game.” Nonetheless, Hylissang is pleased with their progress, and is happy with the level of trust and respect shown to him by the newcomer – something he feels is “pretty important” to him.
Before leaving Hylissang to return to his teammates, we asked if there was a particular support pick that he would like to see become more prominent in the current meta. Fortunately, he believes the majority of champions in his pool are all in good spots right now when picked at the right time – even his patented Pyke pick.
“Pyke is already viable to play,” Hylissang says, “you just need to wait for the opportunity.” Though he is yet to pull out the Bloodharbor Ripper this split, we’re certainly hoping that a chance for Pyke to Ghostwater Dive through the draft, and into Hylissang’s hands at some point over the coming weeks of play will arise.
Hylissang and Fnatic will return to LEC action on Friday, when the team takes on an SK Gaming side which is still struggling to find its feet in the league this split.