With Rekkles’ move from Fnatic to G2 during the off season, the LEC Spring 2021 split was G2’s to lose with a number of hungry, rookie-filled teams biting at their heels
With Rekkles’ move from Fnatic to G2 during the off season, the LEC Spring 2021 split was G2’s to lose with a number of hungry, rookie-filled teams biting at their heels. Winning the LEC this split would also provide a team with a spot in the Mid-Season Invitational, the first iteration since 2019, set to be held in Iceland next month.
Having qualified for Worlds in 2020 with a largely rookie-filled team, many were shocked to see MAD Lions make roster changes as Armut and Elyoya were brought into the top lane and jungle, however the team’s regular-season form showed that the moves may have been the right choice.
A third-place finish in the table earned the side a spot in the playoff winner’s bracket, where a 3-1 win against Rogue put them against G2 for the chance to progress to the grand final. In a repeat of their win in the Spring 2020 playoffs, MAD took down the reigning champions 3-1 to set up a Rogue rematch as the title decider.
The grand final did not start as MAD would’ve hoped, losing the first game fairly decisively before faltering in a tight second match that could’ve easily gone in their favour. MAD bounced back in games 3 and 4 with Armut’s signature Wukong coming up huge in teamfights, leading to the champion’s ban by Rogue for the series-deciding game 5.
Despite the target ban, Armut was once again able to take the game by the scruff of its neck, this time using a Gnar ultimate to win a clutch teamfight that allowed MAD to close out the series despite having been behind in gold for much of the final match.
Game 1 saw Rogue use their front line perfectly, with Trymbi constantly provoking engages from MAD Lions before peeling his carries and preventing their opponents from doing enough damage to win teamfights.
Hans Sama’s signature Varus, along with Larssen’s Orianna, was able to clean up such fights, eventually leading to a Mountain dragon soul, elder dragon buff and ultimately a victory by 37 minutes.
MAD Lions’ mental fortitude looked to be in question for the second match of the series with 4 early kills allowing Rogue to gain a 2k just after 10 minutes. Fast forwards 10 minutes further and the gold lead was unchanged, however an ocean dragon soul point for Rogue meant that a single extra drake pickup would almost certainly put the game out of MAD’s reach.
The next quarter of an hour saw the match swing in both teams’ favour, firstly with MAD picking up 2 dragons and winning skirmishes in the process before a positive teamfight for Rogue earned them an uncontested baron. As the game headed towards the 40-minute mark, a single teamfight victory for either side was all that was needed to secure the match.
Finally, with both sides now on dragon soul point, a final fight at the drake pit was decided by a catch from Inspired’s Hecarim on Humanoid’s Orianna, severely cutting MAD Lion’s damage and allowing Rogue to pick up the ocean soul, barrel down the mid lane and take down the nexus all while rolling over MAD’s remaining members.
The third game was another back and forth, perhaps best shown by Carzzy and Hans Sama’s trade kills under the MAD Lions bottom turret earning both a kill at the same time. MAD Lion’s Armut had a particularly good game on his pocket pick Wukong, a champion that he used to take down MAD during his 2020 Worlds showing with SuperMassive.
It wasn’t until a number of solid Wukong ultimates later that MAD had managed to get a firm hold on the game and pushed towards Rogue’s base. Finally, a crucial Leona ultimate from Kaiser (and follow-up Orianna ultimate from Humanoid) caught Hans Sama unaware, allowing MAD Lions to close out the game and begin to claw back the series.
Surprisingly, MAD Lions were allowed to pick Wukong for Armut once again and he arguably had an even better game this time around. Constant fight-changing ultimates led to a 5/1/2 KDA and the quickest match so far in the series as MAD levelled the proceedings in 24 minutes.
While teams often fold after throwing away a 2-0 lead, Rogue instead came out swinging in the deciding match and took a 3k lead with 5 kills in the first 10 minutes. Later, a teamfight win in the mid lane for Rogue earned them a free baron, however another fight soon after didn’t quite go as planned as Odoamne was taken down and slowed his side’s momentum.
In typical fashion for the series, another fight began to turn the tides as Hans Sama was taken down in a mid lane scrap, allowing MAD’s carries to catch up in gold with their Rogue counterparts ahead of a crucial dragon fight. A flash-stun from Elyoya’s Volibear caught Hans Sama’s Senna to kick the fight off and the Frenchman was eventually taken down by Carzzy’s Kai’Sa.
With both sides knowing the significance of the match, a single slip-up was all it would take for either team to be crowned winners, and it was once again Armut who made all the difference with a huge Gnar ultimate engage. Despite losing Carzzy, mid laner Humanoid was untouched in the ensuing fight and his Viktor was able to clear up as MAD secured an ace and went on to complete the reverse sweep.
As previously mentioned, no player had such a huge impact on MAD Lions’ grand final victory as their Turkish top laner and he has more than shown his worth in his debut LEC split.
Despite some questioning the strength of the player and seeing his signing as a knee-jerk reaction to losing to his former team at Worlds, Armut has surely now silenced all critics with his consistent performances throughout the split and clutch playoff displays.
G2 and Fnatic not to reach the grand final
No current organisation other than Fnatic or G2 had won an LEC title before MAD Lions did to this time around, and betting against the two veteran organisations would have looked mad before the split had begun. G2’s acquisition of Rekkles from Fnatic had even led to the possibility of an increase in their strength and the majority would’ve expected the side to stroll to their 5th successive title.
Despite G2 finishing the regular season in first place, their subsequent fall to MAD Lions followed by MAD’s final win could not have been expected and any punter brave enough to have seen it coming will now have reaped the rewards.