Looking Ahead to MAD vs G2

Riot Games
Riot Games /

Not What It Used To Be

What used to be a premier display of European League of Legends talent is now a shell of its former self, as both G2 Esports and MAD Lions are trying to find their footing with their new rookies in the 2022 LEC Spring Split. The former dynasty and the two-time reigning champions are still trying to fix the rough edges of their new respective rosters as they power through what feel likes a forgettable spring split. But that’s not to say the match is entirely meaningless; here’s the breakdown of the newest editions to the next installment of G2 vs MAD.

Rookies, Rookies, and More Rookies

No, I’m not talking about the legendary Korean mid laner, Song “Rookie” Eui-jin, who is probably the second or third greatest League player of all time. No I am talking about Europe’s newest batch of rookies who, judging from the hype that some of them receive, will fool you into thinking they might as well be the new Rookie.

The “rookie fever” has plagued the LEC for about three to four years now; teams that are drunk on the success of MAD Lions’ initial rookie roster that eventually developed into two-time champions are now finding more and more roster spots open for these unproven talents. The European region has no shortage of League of Legends fans coming through from a variety of countries and cultures, all forming quite a beautiful diversity that makes the LEC fun to watch. The constant promotion of these players adds a unique spice to the LEC, split after split, that is much lacking in its LCS counterpart.

This matchup stars the brand new rookie G2 bottom lane, Flakked and Targamas, while MAD Lions sport their new carries in the form of mid laner Reeker and bot laner UNFORGIVEN.

Big Shoes to Fill

While they are a far cry away from the bot laners that have occupied those roles during the dynasty, that is not to say Flakked and Targamas are not without potential. While G2 rarely field rookie talent, they seem to be confident that these two can grow into reliable players. Victor “Flakked” Lirola, especially, coming into G2 as a hyped MAD Lions prospect in the 2021 offseason, will be looking to prove himself against his old parent team. A capable teamfigher who is proficient at high-speed spacing, Flakked has the mark of a great ADC written all over him. If only his laning can be as consistent as his teamfighting, as the young Spaniard is very susceptible to being killed in laning phase and falling into irrelevancy as a result. His support in Raphael “Targamas” Crabbé, although slightly more experienced, has yet to make a splash. Well, unless you count that tank Zyra support game – it was more of a painful belly flop than a splash though…

Rookie of the Split?

The MAD Lions, who unlike G2, are VERY familiar with fielding rooking talent (you might even say that’s their whole thing, in fact) and it showed bright and early into the season. Already within their first two weeks of the split, mid laner Reeker and bot laner UNFORGIVEN, were a pleasant surprise at how well they seemed to play. Steven “Reeker” Chen dropped jaws by having the audacity to pick Yasuo in his first ever professional game, and proceeding to win – albeit with a little help owing to a superstar performance by his jungler Elyoya. However, his debut game remains his most impressive, as the 20 year old German mid laner finds himself falling behind in more and more of his game as of late, relying on mid game shotcalling from his esteemed jungle-support duo to win some games.

Contrary to his teammate and his opponents from across the Rift, the most impressive addition to the LEC remains the signing of William “UNFORGIVEN” Nieminen, who is in fact my runaway pick for early season Rookie of the Split. Recruited from the relative obscurity of the European Prime League, this bot laner has made a massive splash in his games up until this point, impressing viewers on a variety of different strengths. Hell, his first ever game was on Karthus bot! He possesses the ability to change in and out of marksmen or mage champions seemingly at will, a strength that I WISH more players had within the professional scene. An adept teamfighter who rarely ever makes a single mistake, he is one massive step ahead of his G2 rookie counterpart in that he also is a devastatingly powerful laner, with 2v2 lane kills to boot. Even without the context of rookies clashing against each other, UNFORGIVEN is a key piece in deciding who will take the game in the teams’ first clash of the 2022 season.


I think G2 will narrowly take this game, owing to the fact that Caps will probably succeed in getting the push over young Reeker and using that to accelerate the rest of the map in his favor. As a result of this definitive mid lane disadvantage, I do not think Elyoya can get off to enough of a good start to carry (unless he finds some overextended players) and Jankos will dictate the pace of the game. The only out for MAD Lions I see is the aforementioned UNFORGIVEN completely destroying Flakked and Targamas in the bot lane and using his lead to carry the teamfights in the mid-late game. It is a tall task for any regular rookie – but he is no regular rookie, that much is clear.

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