G2’s reign over the LEC could be under threat from the promising MAD Lions
G2 Esports have lost two best-of-five series in 18 months. Their first defeat came at the hands of FunPlus Phoenix in the World Championship final. Their second was during the LEC Spring Split playoffs against an up-and-coming MAD Lions roster with bags of potential and one eye on fighting for domestic and international titles in 2020 and beyond.
While Fnatic and Origen have stood idle and motionless on the sidelines as G2 lift trophy after trophy, MAD Lions have taken a stand and refused to let Europe’s most decorated organization wipe the floor with ‘lesser’ teams. Since their rebrand earlier in the year, MAD have won five games against the seven-time EU LCS and LEC champions, which is more than Origen have managed in their entire history.
However, a single successful split can be overlooked and judged as a fluke, particularly when talking about a roster as untested and unknown as MAD Lions.
Two consecutive successful splits, on the other hand, are much harder to ignore and the current LEC leaders are well on their way to establishing themselves as a top European side after an excellent start to the Summer Split regular season, notching an impressive 4-1 record after the opening two weeks.
MAD Lions have made a strong start to the split, but can they compete with G2?
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Throughout their first five games of the Summer Split, MAD Lions have continued to showcase their aggressive early game and exceptional team fighting to find four wins including a huge result over top four rivals Fnatic.
Not only that, but they’ve added more to their game. Humanoid has taken the experience of competing against the very best during the playoffs and developed his skills, becoming a larger presence on the Rift. His Player of the Game performance when facing Fnatic’s Nemesis, one of the best mid laners in Europe, is a clear indication of the progress the Czech has made in a short space of time.
MAD Lions’ potential only increases when you add the new dynamic offered by Carzzy and Kaiser who, before this season, had made zero appearances in Europe’s top division and are now one of the most feared bot lanes in the LEC. After an incredible debut split on the Berlin stage, the MAD Lions duo have used their mid-season break wisely to diversify their champion pools and bring unique picks to the bot lane, including Kaiser’s new signature support, Wukong.
Led by Mac – a head coach who has the experience required to transform an unproven team into Worlds contenders from his time at Splyce – this MAD Lions roster possesses the ability to cement a top four place and compete at League of Legends’ most prestigious event. But they can do more than that.
Individually, the MAD Lions players are outmatched. Orome is a weak-side top laner and will never be able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Alphari and Wunder. Shad0w has already got the better of Jankos once, but he needs to do it on a consistent basis before MAD Lions can rely on the jungler to open up the map early on.
As a cohesive unit, though, MAD Lions are one of the best teams in Europe and have the potential to brush aside Fnatic and Origen en route to an LEC playoff final against G2 in two months’ time. Their synergy within team fights is unprecedented for such a newly formed side and, with six months of experience now under their belt, they’re more than ready to challenge G2 for the LEC trophy.
MAD Lions have made a strong start to the Summer Split. Maintain this form, convert it into playoff results, and who knows what they can do. While challenging G2 for the LEC title may be difficult, it’s not unrealistic.
This is an exciting line-up that is rapidly progressing and is more than capable of finishing above Fnatic and Origen this split and qualifying for Worlds less than twelve months after a huge rebrand and rebuild. Although ending G2’s reign over Europe may be a step too far, the ongoing MAD Lions journey is unarguably one of the best underdog stories the LEC has ever seen.