Worlds 2020 Play-In Team Preview: Breaking Down MAD Lions

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

We look at MAD Lions, their path to Worlds 2020, and how they might fare in the play-in stage.

The 2020 World Championship begins in just one week with MAD Lions and INTZ facing off in the first game of the tournament. MAD Lions qualified for Worlds 2020 as Europe’s fourth seed but will be hoping to one-up their LEC rivals during the competition, starting with a comfortable journey through the play-in stage.

Formerly known as Splyce before their 2020 rebrand, MAD Lions have plenty of Worlds experience. In 2016, YamatoCannon led the team to their first-ever World Championship but they failed to make it out of the group stage. Then in 2019, Splyce reached new heights and made an appearance in the quarter-finals against the most decorated League of Legends team in the world, SK Telecom T1.

The Season

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MAD Lions wowed everybody with their start to the 2020 season, showcasing unmatched teamfight prowess and pushing Europe’s top two, Fnatic and G2, to their limits on several occasions.

Despite beginning the year with an incredibly inexperienced roster, MAD secured a fourth-place regular-season finish during the Spring Split and went on to finish third in the playoffs. This achievement made shockwaves across the League of Legends community with the MAD Lions announcing that new blood were ready to challenge for the LEC throne.

However, the team took a slight dip during the Summer Split even though their regular season improved to a second-place finish. MAD Lions’ lack of experience showed in the playoffs as they fell to Rogue in a 3-0 series and cemented a fourth-place finish and Europe’s fourth seed at the World Championship.

The Roster

Top Lane – Andrei “Orome” Popa

There are a number of talented to planers in Europe, many of which are often forced to play weak side in order to create better matchups for their teammates in the draft. MAD Lions’ Orome is arguably the best top laner in the LEC at inching out small advantages in bad matchups and has challenged G2’s Wunder and Origen’s Alphari for the title of Europe’s best top laner in 2020.

As a result, the Romanian possesses the highest KDA (4.4), highest average kills (2.8), and most solo kills (10) among LEC top laners throughout the Summer Split.

MAD Lions fans are confident that Orome has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the world’s best top laners during the World Championship following an incredible LEC season.

Jungle – Zhiqiang “Shad0w” Zhao

MAD Lions are a team that relies on creating early gold leads, snowballing them, and rolling over opponents in teamfights. No player is more vital to this strategy than jungler Shad0w. Although he only made his LEC debut in January, the 19-year-old has already established himself as one of the most feared and aggressive junglers in Europe.

While junglers like Jankos, Inspired, and Xerxe take on a more conservative, reactive approach to the role, Shad0w is hands-on and proactive in his play. This allowed MAD Lions to pick up an average of 1.22 dragons at fifteen minutes and grab first blood in 55.6% of games during the regular season, demonstrating Shad0w’s complete control of the map in the early stages.

Mid – Marek “Humanoid” Brázda

Humanoid is the most experienced player on the MAD Lions roster, a mind-boggling statement considering the Czech only made his LEC debut in the 2019 Spring Split. No doubt MAD will be heavily relying on Humanoid’s 2019 Worlds experience to guide them through the play-in stage and beyond.

ADC – Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság

At just 18 years old, Carzzy is one of the youngest players at the 2020 World Championship but has not let this be an obstacle in his quest to cement himself as Europe’s best AD carry.

The MAD Lions marksman has surprised the LEC audience with his command over the bot lane and pixel-perfect positioning in teamfights, often carrying his team to victories with incredible damage numbers in skirmishes.

Support – Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser

Kaiser’s innovation and playmaking have been revolutionary for the support role in Europe as the MAD Lions rookie has pushed even the most experienced players to new heights during the 2020 LEC season.

Whether it be his unstoppable Taric, lethal Pantheon, or devastating Wukong, Kaiser has showcased his ability to create opportunities and carry games on a remarkable number of unique support picks this season.

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90/50/10 Predictions

90% odds that…MAD Lions qualify for the World Championship main event without dropping a single game. With their most fearsome opponents being an inconsistent Team Liquid, Europe’s fourth seed should comfortably fly through the play-in stage with little trouble.

50% odds that…Kaiser pulls out another unconventional pick and shapes the support meta for the rest of the tournament.

10% odds that…Shad0w struggles to dictate the early game against more tenured junglers like Broxah and KaKAO which forces MAD Lions into an early gold deficit that they fail to overcome. Although this won’t see them drop out of the tournament, they’ll have to play best-of-five elimination matches in order to keep their hopes of success at Worlds alive.