As their first game of the new League of Legends year ends, the new MAD Lions roster takes down SK Gaming and starts the Winter split 1-0, taking the first step to advance further in the regular split. Having changed their top laner, bot laner, and support, the organization is keen on fighting for a trophy in the LEC and maybe even further than that.
With the return of the players to the stage and the start of games, we spoke with MAD’s new support Zdravets “Hylissang'' Iliev Galabov about his offseason, their match against SK, his synergy with Carzzy, and more.
Aykut "Kots" Sapaz, BLIX.GG: Hello Hylissang. Thank you so much for your time. I have a lot of questions as we’re coming from the off-season. but the first of them is how were you doing, how was your offseason like besides changing teams, anything of note?
MAD Hylissang: My offseason is always kind of chill. I don’t really play too much League in the offseason, just try to enjoy my free time cause pro players don't have that much free time, even though it seems like we’re playing video games all the time but we can, play like we have to practice all the time and think about League. So when it comes the offseason, I try to get away from this and recharge my batteries.
And I play WoW, I play New World, I play other games. I went to my family in Bulgaria, I went to Hungary to my girlfriend and I'm just not doing much, just trying to reset my mindset and relax.
BLIX: I’m very glad to hear that you had a nice holiday. I have a follow-up question: is it hard to not think about League, even when you have free time?
MAD Hylissang: I think it used to be harder to not think about League when you have free time. Right now, when I play with my team like six games a day and then I play SoloQ and then I have free time, I still think about League. But when I'm actually in offseason, that’s why I really don’t wanna play League, because if I do, I theory-craft all the time and try to think about champions or what could have done better, you know, and it's very time-consuming so I just try to not play League. But when I do play League a lot, it’s very hard to not think about it.
BLIX: That is a very interesting concept, wow. It’s been a good offseason, now we're back. How does it feel to be in the studio? How was the atmosphere there tonight?
MAD Hylissang: Very great feeling to have, to be back in the LEC studio, also having fans cheering for your team and having your fan meet. It brings back a lot of good memories from the LEC and I’m really happy that it’s back to normal and it also exciting, it is super exciting and it’s I don’t know it’s just great to be back.
BLIX: I’m also glad to hear that, it’s always great to see the atmosphere, even from the live broadcast. You’ve been back to the studio a lot of times, first time in five years under a different organization. What does being on a different team feel like? How is life under the MAD Lions logo?
MAD Hylissang: I cannot say anything bad about the team, I really like being in MAD Lions because the guys are friendly and we’re having a lot of fun together and that’s when you perform. I’m very glad we came out with the win today and we’re still improving, we’re not even close to our best, so I’m just very excited to be with the team that can improve.
I think we are also very resilient, I’m just very hopeful for our team and I really like the coaching staff, I like the players as well and the organization and so on. I can’t really say anything bad about the way, cool team and I’m very lucky to be here.
BLIX: That is a bold statement, to see that you guys can improve on this performance. Might I say, perform, you guys did? Tonight, you had a great win. What are your thoughts on the game against SK today?
MAD Hylissang: The thoughts about the game, not really much. I felt very comfortable on the stage, mainly because of the draft, I felt like we had what some may say Exodiadraft. We were happy with all the pieces we were having and I think we executed good enough so we could win. I feel like we were aware of what’s going on in the game, Comms were not toochaotic, it’s something that we’re working on.
Yeah, the guys are very loud in the game and it’s nice to see that they’re so emotional about the game so I think it’s like that we just need to fix some things but other than that, it was a great game today.
BLIX: I’m sure I’m gonna love to see the voice comms on soundcheck this week.
MAD Hylissang: Yeah, this team is quite funny when it comes to comms.
BLIX: Speaking of the draft, was there anything you didn’t expect from their side or any spontaneous decisions that you guys just made on the spot?
MAD Hylissang: On this team, when it came to like preparation, we didn't really expect Lucian and Nami to be open since they are quite strong in the meta right now. And we were really not prepared for Lucian-Nami to be open. That was something that when we saw that draft, it was like “Okay, they just gave us Lucian-Nami” and we were quite happy about it. Other than that, the Kassadin. I mean, we were expecting it but we didn’t think they would play it so it was weird. We are prepared for it but we didn’t think that they would play it if that makes any sense.
BLIX: It sounds like you guys just had a great time from the start to finish then.
MAD Hylissang: I think so. I think we were well-prepared and we had a good draft and we also executed it to a good extent. So I guess it’s a win.
BLIX: It was a win, it was a good win. And especially on the bot lane side you and Carzzy had quite a synergy. How does it feel to be on the same side after being against each other for the last three years or so?
MAD Hylissang: Yeah it feels great to be alongside with Carzzy, I like the guy a lot, he’s very funny and very crazy when it comes to gameplay. And even in real life, I like having a duo that can understand me at times and we can cooperate very well when it comes to ideas and working to improve. So I think we have a good chance of being a really good bot lane duo. I’m really happy about it and I think he’s very good mechanically if I can give him some of the knowledge that I have, for example laning phase or even movement on the map, how to efficiently go where and when, then I think he can be very, very good.
BLIX: It feels like we reached the peak bot lane synergy, with you as the wise old mentor andCarzzy, the young gunslinger, this is gonna be very exciting to follow throughout the year. This is the first week, you now have a 100% win rate. Do you have any bold proclamations to make on top of that for the excited fans at home?
MAD Hylissang: I mean, I’m really happy we have won our first LEC game. I don’t think I’ll be cocky enough to say anything further than that I’m just very happy that our first game is a win and we can start on a good note to the winter season so I’m just very happy. I don’t think we’re gonna be 18-0 or something or we’re not gonna lose any game but I’m just happy we won our first game.
BLIX: I am glad to see such a good match from the start and we’ll see, in your words, the squad improves. And maybe even take on LCS in the future for a Worlds spot. What do you think about the new international format?
MAD Hylissang: Yeah, I think it’s gonna be very interesting. I mean I don’t know how to comment on it since I've never seen it but it looks like there’s gonna be some rivalry between NA and EU, which is gonna be very great, I guess. I hope EU wins and gets the fourth slot for Worlds.