Each week, Upcomer highlights one player in the League of Legends European Championship for their outstanding performance in the weekend prior and crowns them Player of the Week. By shutting down his opponent’s tactics and aggressively hindering their every move, the LEC player of the spring split Week 7 is Fnatic support Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov.
Shutting down Rogue’s tactics
Fnatic kicked off the week with an important game versus Rogue. Through their great planning and meticulous playstyle, Rogue sat at the top of the LEC standings. Fnatic trailed in second place, two wins behind them. A victory over Rogue would close that gap to just one win and put Fnatic in a good position to overtake Rogue, should they slip up in any of their remaining games.
The strategy Fnatic chose against Rogue was clear: Make the game impossible to play for jungler Kim “Malrang” Geun-seong. Malrang had been a pivotal part of Rogue’s victories in the week prior, greatly sacrificing his own farm to constantly and creatively gank his enemies. Fnatic drafted a composition to match Malrang’s roaming. Hylissang piloted the Nautilus in order to do so.
It was pivotal for Fnatic to get a good start to the game. With his trademark aggressive playstyle, not giving his enemies any room to breathe, Hylissang threatened Rogue’s bot lane from the get-go. When Hylissang and his lane partner Elias “Upset” Lipp went back to their base, Rogue saw an opportunity to claim the first drake of the game. But Hylissang had other plans. He flashed forward, zoned Malrang away and delivered a strong first blow to Rogue.
Hylissang paid with his life for getting his team the advantage — a theme that resonates through Hylissang’s career and would continue to resonate throughout the game. Fnatic continued to roam across the map to apply pressure to Rogue. Hylissang followed the plan diligently. He used his ultimate to lock down Malrang once more and, while Hylissang died again in the process, it opened the map even more to Fnatic, just 11 minutes into the game.
Through cross-map plays, Rogue did manage to keep up in gold. But whenever the lineups would cross, it was Fnatic who came out on top by following their plan. Hylissang would spot Malrang, engage on him, and put his teammates in a position to shut Malrang down. Immediately after, Hylissang ran down bot and set his team up for success once more.
There was nothing Rogue could do. Fnatic tightened its grip on the match with every passing second. Hylissang would run in and the duo of Upset and jungler Iván “Razork” Martín — who both were playing a fantastic game as well — would swoop in to pick up the kills.
Towers fell, the gold lead was extended step by step. The final nail in Rogue’s coffin came at 28 minutes. Fnatic pathed to the fourth drake — their soul point — and Rogue tried to contest. After receiving some poke damage from Upset and Martin “Wunder” Hansen, Rogue stepped forward. That’s when Hylissang flew in and gave Razork a double kill.
Using the opportunity, Fnatic marched down Rogue’s base and ended the game. The gap with Rogue had grown smaller. In the post-game interview, mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda thought Fnatic’s draft gave them a massive advantage.
“I didn’t really see any way for them to win,” he said, evaluating both teams’ compositions. However, he praised his team’s tactical sense too. “We out-rotated them a lot. It seemed like they didn’t really know what to do.”
Slicing up MAD Lions
The second match of the week, against MAD Lions, was not as highly anticipated — the reigning LEC champions had been having trouble keeping up competitively. Nevertheless, when finishing first in the regular split is the goal, every win counts.
Once again, the game was over in the draft phase. But it was not necessarily because of the overall team compositions, though. While MAD Lions’ composition did not answer Fnatic’s composition well, one thing stood out: Hylissang got to play Pyke, his signature champion.
From early on, Hylissang asserted his dominance. He played in the face of MAD Lions and threatened to hook them into the grave almost as soon as his Q was off cooldown. The game was quiet and it was actually MAD Lions who found the first kill of the game, but Fnatic got the first two drakes in return. With an Umbral Glaive in his pocket, Hylissang roamed and took away MAD Lion’s vision. When MAD Lions pushed their luck, Hylissang put his foot down and put on a Pyke show.
Immediately, Fnatic accelerated the quiet game and put the pedal to the metal. They killed off Baron Nashor and extended their gold lead by pushing in the lanes. By playing together as a unit, and with Hylissang lurking in the shadows with his hooks, Fnatic made it impossible for MAD Lions to answer.
30 minutes into the game, MAD Lions was desperate. They tried to lure Fnatic towards the Baron pit and then turn onto them. Although they successfully killed off Razork, Fnatic collapsed and Hylissang happily pressed his R button repeatedly, raking up a triple-kill.
And just like that, the game was over. With a 7/2/4 kill-death-assist on the Pyke, Hylissang had led his team to another victory and Fnatic secured a 2-0 weekend to solidify their position even further at the top of the standings. The team is now guaranteed to make it to the top four, meaning they are on the top side of the spring split playoffs’ double-elimination bracket.
“I feel like we’re playing much better,” Razork said after the game. “We were in a hard situation but we came out with the win because we stayed together and waited for enemy mistakes. So, I feel like the team is getting better and we’re improving a lot.”
“The Professor” gives yet another lecture
Hylissang has been in top shape so far in the 2022 LEC spring split. His synergy with his lane buddy Upset was already in great shape after the two played together in 2021, but in 2022, Hylissang has ascended.
In Fnatic’s first weeks of competing this year, Hylissang’s plays tied the team together as it was trying to establish synergy. Now, with the team increasingly in sync, Hylissang executes his role perfectly and steps up when his team is struggling in-game. It’s for good reason that Hylissang is actively in the conversation to receive the “MVP of the split” award at the end of the regular split.
In South Korea, Hylissang has received the nickname “The Professor” because he often finds innovative strategies. This past weekend, Hylissang sat his opponents down and forced them to listen to him as he lectured them on how to win in League of Legends.
There were a few great performances this past weekend — just on Fnatic alone, Upset and Razork made a case for themselves as well. The two other players we’re shouting out this weekend don’t play on Fnatic, though.
The first one is Barney “Alphari” Morris, the top laner of Team Vitality. Vitality has struggled in the LEC so far; what was meant to be a superteam has not locked its spot in the playoffs yet and is in sixth place at the moment.
Against SK Gaming, on Friday, Vitality struggled for 20 minutes. Through Alphari and his jungler, Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek, the team held on. They bounced back and almost finished the game, taking down all of SK’s inhibitors. Vitality lost everyone but Alphari in the process, and the top laner cleverly prevented SK from returning to their base, allowing the super minions to destroy the Nexus.
On Saturday, Vitality struggled again, this time against Misfits. Fortunately for Vitality, Misfits’ top side was having an off-day. Alphari and Selfmade capitalized on this in the mid-game, putting their team in an advantageous position. With great flanks that forced Misfits into awkward spots, Alphari slowly choked Misfits out of the game and got his team a 2-0 weekend.
The second player who deserves an honorable mention is last week’s player of the week: Misfits Gaming’s mid laner Vincent “Vetheo” Berrié.
Misfits stared down an early defeat against G2 Esports. At 18 minutes, two of Misfits’ inhibitors had fallen already. But that’s when Vetheo awakened. G2 tried to push in the top side and got a little greedy, which was a fatal mistake. Empowered by Mertai “Mersa” Sari on the Yuumi, Vetheo went on a manhunt and tore apart four of G2’s players. It was a massive turning point in the game. Misfits stabilized, turned the game around and came back to win a game in which they had been 13.5k gold behind — one of the largest comebacks in LEC history.
While Misfits lost against Vitality, Vetheo’s performance was once again commendable. He deserves no blame for the loss, as it was his teammates that kept getting caught out. Vetheo tried his best on Syndra and was by far Misfits’ best player on the day, but it was impossible to 1v9 that game.