Why does everyone think MAD Lions won’t contest MSI? And why they are wrong.
Well, welcome to a new era in European League of Legends. On Sunday, wether it would be MAD Lions or Rogue, one of them would make history, and be the fourth team to ever win the LEC (since 2013 EU LCS). With no G2 or Fnatic (sad bcs im a Fnatic fan) in the finals for the first time ever, a lot could have happened. And for the entretainement, we had a five-game series in the Final, only the third time it has happened ( 2015 Summer Fnatic 3–2 Origen, 2019 Summer G2 3–2 Fnatic). Although being behind 2–0, MAD Lions crawled back and did the reverse sweep against Rogue, winning 3–2 to take the crown of Europe.
Now let’s resume this historic split. MAD Lions went third in the regular season standings (9–9) and showed in the playoffs that they can beat everyone in Europe. The Kings of Europe, Fnatic and G2, were of course the big losers, as G2 built the best roster of all time from Europe, to not even going to the final brawl (although Rekkles was the MVP of the split and the whole team was considered the All-Pro team), to Fnatic that couldn’t find a grip and went out bamboozeled by S04 in the second round of playoffs. Rogue should be glad as well, as they reach the finals for the first time and gave a strong replica in the series, although it wasn’t enough to beat the lions from Spain.
But now as we settle in with the new kings, the new target for the fans has been locked. As MSI 2021 is aproaching at a fast pace, we will see the champs from the 16 main regions battle it out in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 3 weeks. And although a lot can change in the meta, and we still don’t know all the teams attending (LPL, LCL, TCL, PCS, VCS, CBLOL), people are already thinking that MAD Lions will be actually a team that can’t contest. And to that I say, yes, because we got Damwon KIA just demolishing everyone that stand at their front. But I can also say no, and there are several reasons why.
For starters, they have beaten G2. That can say a lot. Why? Well, although they had a bad reading of the playoffs meta, G2 is still G2. They have built by far the best roster we have ever seen coming out of Europe. It’s not easy to beat a team when you have Rekkles + Caps. Just ask all of the teams Fnatic has beaten in 2018. MAD Lions outplayed G2 and every single team in Europe when it mattered the most, and they showed it in the offline performance. They can keep the calm when they need, and make the plays at the right time. And there is no better example than the final 5/7 minutes of the final game of playoffs, with them trailing 7K gold behind rogue, with less drakes and resources, they found the plays, at the right people, at the right time. This is what made them win that game, and ultimately, the title. Elyoya is probably the best player at the moment for MAD. The Rookie is the voice of the team in-game, and still can outperform every jungler at his prime (even Inspired). Humanoid and Armut are showing as top-tier laners, while Carzzy and Kaiser are a consistent, rock-solid, and playmaking bot duo.
Now looking into the MSI itself, MAD Lions for now are the only team who doesn’t know any opponent in the Group stage, as the PCS, TCL, and CBLOL, haven’t decided yet who will represent their leagues. But you can see the alarms echoing in the MAD Lions office, because they will go up against the TCL, the region that knocked them out in the Play-ins of the World Championship last year, which included Armut, which of course now the toplaner for the team. The PCS is also a very strong region, with PSG Talon being the likely team to come out of the league, since they have been dominating the league (17–1 in the regular season, and 3–0'd J team in the playoffs so far). The TCL itself has only 2 teams left in the competition, as 1907 Fenerbahçe have been climbing the ladder from almost not making to playoffs, to beat the number 1 team, Supermassive, in the semifinals. They will now face the Istambul Wildcats, who went second in the regular season, and are in the final after a tough win against galatasaray 3–2. The final league in their group is the Brazilian league. The CBLOL has seen the rise of Pain Gaming in the playoffs. The team of Brtt and co. went fifth in the regular split, but reached the finals after two close games (3–2 vs LOUD, 3–2 vs Flamengo), but now they will face Vorax in the final. Vorax, which probably has the MVP of the Split FNB, went second in the regular split, and with the quarterfinal bye, they faced Red Canids, granting a 3–1 win to seal the playoff spot.
For the people that don’t know how MSI works out this year, let me explain. The first stage, the group stage, will feature a double round robin with the groups showed above. The top 2 teams from each group will advance into a rumble stage, where everyone is packed into a group, and, in another double round robin, the top 4 teams advance to the knockout stage, that include 2 semifinals and the Grand Final.
The Group for MAD Lions ain’t hard theoretically, but if PSG Talon comes out on top of the PCS, the challenge of passing through the group in first might be a tough challenge, but that won’t matter because it has no effect on the rumble stage if you go first or second. The Rumble stage will be the big test, as the MAD Lions will go to play, if they pass, with the LPL candidate (either FPX EDG or RNG) and Damwon KIA. Now, either of those 4 mentioned can win it all, there is clear info that these teams will definetely be superior to everyone. But the Lions have very good shots at winning against these teams. The great early game provided by the macro the team does and especially the Pro-activeness Elyoya has in the early stages of the game is massive, and can very likely be a start to a lead in games against these teams. Also MAD usually draft very good teamfighting compsitions, which means we might see some drafts that allow the Lions to easily engage on these teams, that are teamfighting “gods”.
It might be hard to see someone that ain’t Fnatic or G2 representing Europe, but the MAD Lions will certainly show us that the young guns also have the ability to be the best in the world.