MAD Lions finished the play-in group stage with a 1-3 record and now has its hopes of qualifying for the 2020 League of Legends World Championship main event hanging on best-of-five eliminators. That's assuming the team doesn't get outright eliminated.
MAD Lions has been struggling to find its momentum during the play-in stage. But why is it that a talented LEC team hasn’t been able to keep up against opponents who are much weaker on paper?
The LEC as a region has been performing well internationally in recent years and has been developing many new promising talents. Some of the most talented players were picked up by MAD Lions for the 2020 season and are now at their first Worlds.
With a lot of hype around MAD Lions, many fans and experts expected them to perform very well and qualify for the Worlds main event but things have not panned out in that way.
MAD Lions’ play style has been punished at Worlds 2020
The biggest problem for the MAD Lions squad has been their play style and adaptation to the meta. Their first game against INTZ was a victory but was largely won on individual performances. Despite great leads, MAD Lions struggled to close out the game cleanly. The team didn't have much trouble doing that in the LEC during the season against much stiffer competition than INTZ.
The win against INTZ was followed up by two tough matches against Liquid and SuperMassive, both of which MAD Lions lost convincingly. The weaknesses of MAD Lions got exposed, especially in team fights.
The MAD Lions squad is full of individual talent and young players who want to prove themselves on the big stage. The hunger has resulted in many over-aggressive plays, that have been punished time and time again. Liquid especially was great at punishing MAD Lions when they tried to push a lead.
The aggressive playstyle has been working for them in the LEC, so it is not unexpected that the Lions are trying to leverage that strength at Worlds 2020. Unfortunately for MAD Lions, the playstyle has not been working and their general read on the meta seems to be off.
MAD Lions lack experience, leadership at Worlds 2020
Losing to Liquid is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but MAD Lions has also been underperforming against teams that they should be able to smash. Their last game against Legacy Esports was a long, action-packed game, but also one where MAD Lions clearly lacked coordination and leadership.
The players are under heavy pressure at Worlds 2020, especially when coming in as a big favorite. The pressure seems to have affected the young players and no one is experienced enough to take the leading role.
Mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda is the only player that has attended Worlds before, which was in 2019 where he was the rookie. Humanoid still doesn’t have the experience to lead a team in important games, which has resulted in some shaky team fights and bad decision making.
MAD Lions has gotten used to playing from home since the spring split and it might be too hard for them to adjust to the stage games. The team has not adapted well to a LAN setting, which adds another hurdle to the list.
MAD Lions ends the play-in group stage with a 1-3 record and will have to fight with all they’ve got in the elimination games, but the team has wiggle room left.