With G2 and Fnatic’s grip on Europe’s major league having come to an end with MAD Lions’ Spring victory, the Summer split was the perfect chance for another new champion to make their push.
With G2 and Fnatic’s grip on Europe’s major league having come to an end with MAD Lions’ Spring victory, the Summer split was the perfect chance for another new champion to make their push. Add to this the fact that World Championship qualification was up for grabs and the ingredients for an exciting split were all there!
Having stunned Europe to take the Spring crown (the first not won by G2/Fnatic since 2014), MAD Lions were now under pressure to make another title run and prove that their victory was not a fluke.
The squad performed steadily throughout the regular season, never dropping out of playoff places as their Championship Points from Spring meant that a half-decent Summer placing would guarantee playoff qualification.
They eventually made it through as the 3rd seed, meaning that they began their playoff run in the upper bracket. Up against them was a common foe, G2 Esports, a side that they seem to have faced in every playoff scenario since MAD joined the LEC.
Despite starting the series 0-1, MAD Lions managed to take down G2 on this occasion by winning the next three matches back-to-back to take the series 3-1 and set up a battle with ROGUE for a grand final place.
MAD Lions looked to only improve as the playoffs progressed, sweeping ROGUE 3-0 in their semi-final and booking their place against Fnatic for the title decider.
Their final series with Fnatic was not quite as decisive. The two opening matches went to each side, levelling at 1-1 ahead of game 3. The next two games were more one-sided, both seeing MAD control leads throughout the games as Fnatic did their best to find picks and engages to force their way back.
The Spring champions were able to hold out each time, closing out the series with a solid 3-1 victory to lift the LEC trophy once again and book their spot as Europe’s #1 seed at this season’s World Championship.
With both MAD and Fnatic in great form, the grand final had immense hype to live up to. Would MAD Lions prove themselves as a truly top side or would Fnatic regain the European crown as they had done so many times historically?
The first match began fairly evenly with each team earning a couple of kills in the opening 10 minutes before a teamfight victory for MAD gave them a healthy 3k gold lead. Fnatic found their way back and evened proceedings heading into the mid game as Bwipo’s Xin Zhao earned an impressive 5 kills within 18 minutes.
Subsequent teamfights went in MAD’s favour and they soon found themselves with a gold lead once again. However, by the 30th minute, well into late game territory, MAD Lions’ 6k gold lead meant less and less as a single teamfight would be likely to decide the outcome. This eventually proved to be the case in MAD’s favour as they won a 35th-minute teamfight, claimed a mountain dragon soul and demolished Fnatic’s nexus.
Fnatic looked to fight back in game 2 and did so so quickly that their first kills were almost missed as the broadcast transitioned from the studio to the match. The minute-1 fight crucially netted first blood for Upset’s Vayne, a worst-case scenario start for MAD Lions.
Fnatic kept up this pace throughout, earning almost a kill per minute across the 32-minute match with Upset alone earning 10 kills. Despite a late fightback from MAD which saw them snatch away dragons and a baron against the run of play, Fnatic eventually took the win and levelled the series at 1-1.
Game 3 started in a tamer fashion, with no kills within the initial 6 minutes until a fight at the first dragon saw MAD Lions take a slight lead early on. Back and forwards fights ensued for the remainder of the early game as MAD’s crept up to a comfortable 5k by minute 20.
It was finally a bottom lane, baron empowered push from MAD Lions that closed out a decisive victory, one in which Fnatic never looked like coming back, to move the series to match point at 2-1.
The next match was once again a bloody affair with both teams happy to scrap it out throughout the early game. Despite the kills being fairly even, MAD headed into the mid game with a small lead and crucially with kills for Elyoya’s Viego, a champion that has dominated in the current meta.
By 20 minutes the gold lead had extended to 5k, a significant amount at that stage of the game, and MAD were able to take advantage of this by thwarting Fnatic’s comeback efforts and using their opponent’s hopeful teamfight/pick attempts in order to extend their own lead even further.
The next 10 minutes were mostly spent on the outskirts of Fnatic’s base with the Lions doing the caging. That was until a 30th minute attempted flank from Nisqy failed to lead to a positive engage for Fnatic and MAD were able to easily clean up the fight, break the base and destroy the nexus to become back-to-back LEC champions.
Ever since his promotion from academy side AGO ROGUE, jungler Inspired has gone from strength to strength and has grown alongside his organisation. ROGUE have since been in the top two of the regular season for the last three splits and even boast a World Championship appearance under their belt.
Inspired’s impact was no different this split with the Pole’s performances earning him the LEC’s MVP award for the Summer, finishing ahead of Misfit’s jungler Razork in second place and MAD Lions’ mid laner Humanoid in third.
MAD Lions to win the LEC
Despite being the current LEC holders, some may still have doubted MAD Lions as a top contender and could have easily dismissed their success as a one-off. However, the team has only improved since and have shown that they truly are the best side in Europe.
Any MAD fans (in either sense) that were willing to take a punt on them retaining the LEC trophy will now be reaping the rewards and can deservedly look forward to seeing their favourite players represent their region on the game’s biggest stage later this season.