MAD Lions received a rough reality check on Monday. Though the team went 7-2 in the LEC Winter Split’s best-of-one stage and beat Astralis 2-1 in their first best-of-three of the year, G2 had none of it. In quick and dominant fashion, they showed MAD Lions the door to the lower bracket. Jungler Javier “Elyoya” Prades spoke to Em Dash after the match and criticized his own play. The Spaniard explained what went wrong in the series, looked ahead at the next hurdle for his team to make it to the playoffs, and discussed the strength of LEC teams.

That was a tough series against G2, Elyoya. I can imagine your head’s still full of moments that could’ve been played better. What are your first impressions of what went wrong for MAD Lions today?

I think many things went wrong. Personally, I felt like I had one of the worst series in my career. Both of my games were not good and I’m really disappointed with myself and my performance. I think everyone struggled to play well today. It’s just a really bad day. I think we had a good read on the meta. I don’t think it was a draft problem or anything like that. It’s just… I played a really bad series today.

You’re taking the blame, and that’s noble, but don’t forget that it’s a team game as well. You came into the series after a chaotic match against Astralis. There was little time to study G2 between the two series. Did you have anything prepared?

We didn’t have anything specific for them, but we usually don’t have anything specific for anyone. We just practice our style and we just aim to be the best we can, playing to our strengths. Today it was just not enough.

And yeah, of course, I think my teammates didn’t have their best day today as well. But I also want to take responsibility for today’s series. I think I really underperformed.

“We have to make it a quick 2-0 and prove that today was just a bad day. That we are a much better team than what we showed, so we can get into the next week with more confidence.”

MAD Lions performed above the public’s expectations in the best-of-one stage. In terms of preparation, did you do anything different for the best-of-threes?

We came to the office earlier and we took more time to prepare coming into both best-of-threes. Apart from that, it was just normal training. I don’t think we did anything special.

I’m glad to hear it. Looking forward, you will either play Astralis or Team BDS. You said earlier that many things went wrong in today’s series against G2. Do you still think there’s a lot to learn from it, or is it one of those where you just have to shake off the loss and move on?

Hm, well, I think we should win the series, no matter if we face Astralis or BDS. We should use the series to prove that we are still a really good team. We have to make it a quick 2-0 and prove that today was just a bad day. That we are a much better team than what we showed, so we can get into the next week with more confidence.

We are gonna review today’s game for sure, and yesterday’s series [against Astralis] as well. We have to make sure that the mistakes we made won’t happen again.

Elyoya MAD Lions LEC 2023
Nisqy and Elyoya hug after beating Astralis 2-1 on Sunday, Feb. 12th. (Source: Wojciech Wandzel for Riot Games)

Elyoya’s bond with his teammates

Let’s talk about something else: you and your teammates. You and Nisqy formed the core identity for MAD Lions in the 2022 Summer Split and you’re back in action this year. Last year, you just had one split together. How has that dynamic evolved since?

I think our duo is really strong. We are one of the best, if not the best, duos in the league for sure. It’s just going upward. I think we’re getting to know each other better and we are getting more comfortable playing with each other every time we play. It’s just going better.

This goes beyond in-game synergy as well, right?

Yeah, it’s also outside of the game. We usually come to the office and spend a lot of time together. We do many activities together. Both inside and outside the Rift, we spend a lot of time with each other.

“The level of the LEC has improved on average. There’s just not a team that stands out as a really dominant team, right now.”

You’ve also been reunited with Carzzy; did that instantly feel familiar again?

Definitely. Even though he left, we never lost contact. For me, Carzzy is one of my biggest friends in the esports scene. It’s pretty much the same as before. We obviously didn’t play together, but we still talked a lot with each other.

He did have a tough year on Vitality but seems to have found his shape again at MAD Lions. As a friend and colleague, how do you view that transition?

I think he has been performing pretty well for now. I’m happy for him. To be honest, I’m not sure what happened in Vitality, or what didn’t work out. I don’t even think he knows. [Laughs] But with us, he’s performing really well. That’s all I really care about.

I think the environment here really helps. We have really good relationships with each other here at MAD Lions. He knows the coaches, he’s really big friends with Mac, with Pad, with me, with Nisqy… All of that helps him to perform well in the team.

Elyoya MAD Lions LEC 2023
Elyoya says his team needs to show up dominantly to restore confidence. (Source: Wojciech Wandzel for Riot Games)

The strength of the LEC

Lastly: the LEC still feels very close, particularly because teams like Astralis, BDS, and SK all have consistently taken games from the ‘traditional’ top teams such as yourself. What’s your perspective on that? Is everyone good, or is everyone bad?

I think it’s a mix. I think we are not that good. I don’t see any team that is particularly better than the other one, or that is just superior. KOI has had some really good games right now—they went 2-0 in both series, so they’re looking quite scary. But I would say that, for the moment, the level of the LEC has improved on average. There’s just not a team that stands out as a really dominant team, right now.

In past seasons, when the LEC has felt very close, it has generally been because everyone was equally bad—something that came to light at international tournaments.

Yeah, I think the average has gone up, but it’s not at a point where we are able to fight teams like JDG or Weibo Gaming, these types of rosters. They are just really good.

MAD Lions plays its next series on Sunday, Feb. 19th, at 8 PM CET against the winner of the series between Team BDS and Astralis. You can watch the series live on the official LoL Esports site.