Elias "Upset" Lipp is still looking to achieve great things. After personal matters prevented him from playing at Worlds, he’s still looking to prove himself on the international stage as one of the best bot laners in the world. He’s made good progress on that this year — he and Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov are considered the strongest bot lane duo in Europe on a roster with serious claim to the LEC Spring title.
Still, though, playoffs is on the way, and Upset knows several strong teams will try to stand in his way. Inven Global had the chance to talk with Upset, to discuss his thoughts in EU bot lanes, what teams will be strong in playoffs, and Fnatic’s team environment.
It seems you guys are far and away the most dominant bot lane in Europe. Has your understanding of Hylissang changed at all?
No, I personally don't feel this way. I think since we started playing, we have been very dominant. But I would say that we definitely got to know each other better. And we argue less because we understand each other — how we should talk to each other better, and what's important to focus on. So our personal relationship definitely developed a lot. But in-game, I feel like we’ve been very dominant since the spring of 2020.
What's your opinion of the overall talent pool in Europe? In our interview with Targamas last week, he stated he thinks EU has gotten a lot weaker with Hans sama leaving. What do you think?
I definitely feel that Hans was the closest one to me in terms of how he plays. And of course, I think he's very good, because I think I'm very good. But personally, over the years I have probably the highest win rates versus nearly all AD carries. The AD I probably won the most against is Hans I think, numbers-wise. And I’ve always felt very good playing against him but I can recognize his great talent as well. I never felt too threatened by it.
So personally, this didn't change so much for my experience playing in the league. But from a talent standpoint, I don't think there's anyone as good as Hans right now, after me in the league. And also, I think Rekkles brought so much experience and a unique play style and this mode isn't really filled by anyone else right now in the league. So yeah, I would say EU ADs — the talent pool of bot lanes, in general, is a little bit less, but I wouldn't say anyone's particularly bad. But I don't see very outstanding bot lanes compared to the international ones.
How difficult will that be for international competition?
I mean, even though I wasn't able to play the matches at Worlds, in scrims I felt we were definitely one of the best bot lanes in the world. And I didn't feel like we were behind [3:45]. But the challenge felt a lot bigger. I think it's for sure that you get pushed a lot more if the competition level is higher.
Earlier in the year, you said you felt you would be a stronger team than Rogue. After your victory against them, do you see this as a turning point where you are now definitively the best team in Europe?
Yeah. Overall, I think Rogue are a very good team in the regular season usually. And they're also not a bad team in playoffs. I think they're just not championship team, usually. I beat them in the last three playoffs I think — every year I kick them out, since 2019. So I have some confidence in me that if we meet in playoffs, we will overtake them.
But maybe it's not true, because they're a different team, of course, and they will bring different things in playoffs. But so far my feeling from how I've seen things develop it seems right. So I wouldn't say I'm too concerned. But I think Roque should always get the respect because they’ve been a top team for a long time, even though they didn't win a split.
How do Comp and Trymbi compare with Hans sama and Trymbi?
I think Hans' champion pool was a lot more focused on the strong laning champs. But overall, they still try to play more similar. I just think that Hans definitely was a bit better in lane and was also leaning towards his strength more. And I feel like Rogue’s bot lane is good, but a lot of times I think the way their jungle plays helped them more. Last year, their jungle played also around bot, but the advantages were less forced by the jungle and more forced by playing winning matchups.
You don't think that Rogue is a championship team — where do you think that comes from? Are they not well-equipped for best-of-5s?
I think you just need to be quite lucky to find the right mix of players to win a championship, and it's not easy to recreate it. So I guess the talent pool was maybe a bit lower, or the way they played the game was not as smart as maybe the G2 era when they were dominant, or the MAD Lions era last year when they won both splits. So I think they just lack something — maybe you could call it clutchless as well because they did kind of choke in Spring Finals 2021. And they do seem to underperform a little bit of what their regular season performance looks like. So it's hard to pinpoint.
If you had to put money on it, which team do you think will meet you in the finals?
I think it's between G2... or actually… it's very hard to say, EU is really wide open. I definitely think we have the highest ceiling talent-wise, but it's also the Spring Split, and we're not there yet in reaching our ceiling. But I would say it's probably going to be Vitality if they get their sh*t together or G2, I guess.
How different do you think Razork approaches the bottom lane compared to Bwipo?
I think Razork was not really used to playing around bot lane so far. Or not as much as maybe Bwipo was, because Bwipo was very intelligent about learning the role together with us, because he just roleswapped. We put so much effort into learning it together as three, because this was also our most reliable way to win the game. So we would do the same thing every game and focus on that.
And compared to Razork, I think he needs more time to get used to the environment in general and get more comfortable. I think he also plays well, maybe more farm-safe compared to Bwipo. But he is also improving at a good pace — how we want to approach bot lane and how we can connect with our jungle and dominate the game. So I think the biggest difference is that Bwipo was a little bit more connected with our support, and that synergy needs some time to build.
How do you feel about the team environment overall compared with those throughout last year? Will all the different veterans, has it been an adjustment for you at all?
Well, it was like three different teams, because we had the team with Oskar, and then we had Bwipo top, and the environment was not great. But I would say our environment right now is definitely much improved. I think we can still make it a lot better, I wouldn't say our environment is great [chuckles] right now. So I think that's definitely a point that we should focus on.
When there are a lot of really good players, there are very high expectations for how practice should look like. And when these expectations are not met, it can always be difficult to feel good in that environment, because everyone thinks very highly of each other. But it is also a completely new team. Even though we are really good players, we need to adjust and start from the bottom, like every new team. And I think that period has not been the easiest for us and also not the best for our environment. But I also want to add that it seems like when it comes to the game and meta, we have a really good environment to perform, and give our best.
With all the trials and tribulations that you've gone through recently, how has that affected your headspace coming into this year? Was it at all motivating?
I would describe myself as an incredibly driven person — very competitive, very wanting to win. And when people put a lot of doubt, disrespect, or just false things on your name, for me, that's definitely a lot of fuel. But I also think it wasn't necessary for me to even have extra fuel, because I already feel like I want to win so badly.
All photos by: Riot Games
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