MAD Lions were the new kids on the block heading into the 2020 League of Legends European Championship season.
The team previously known as Splyce rebranded after the end of the 2019 season, adopting the MAD Lions name. The new look came with a new lineup to boot. Marek “Humanoid” Brázda was the only player on the roster to have played more than one game on Europe’s premier stage ahead of the 2020 season. As a new outfit with four rookies, MAD Lions certainly had a lot to prove going into the spring split.
The opening game of the LEC season saw MAD Lions pitted against European powerhouse G2 Esports. The new boys would have been forgiven for capitulating, but what ought to have been a baptism of fire for the Lions turned into an exhibition of potential. After 10 minutes and 20 seconds, they were up 5-0 in kills. The game was a total bloodbath, but in the end, G2 showed their class to recover and take the win. Nevertheless, MAD Lions had well and truly arrived onto the LEC stage.
Their next match against Vitality emphasized this potential. While the French organization was able to go toe-to-toe with the Lions in the early game, MAD showcased their prowess by methodically shutting Vitality out as the clock ticked on. In their third game, MAD exhibited a similarly shaky early game. Excel Esports capitalized where Vitality could not, and the Lions recorded their second loss of the season.
Since that loss, the MAD Lions have gone on a winning streak. A heroic comeback was necessary against Schalke 04, but the Lions pulled it off. The game against fellow playoff candidates Rogue was a close one, but the Lions were able to dispatch SK Gaming with aplomb.
The seventh and eighth games of the season will be critical for MAD Lions’ season. They find themselves up against Origen and Fnatic, two of the most prestigious outfits in the LEC. Both teams are hotly tipped to finish in upper echelons of the LEC standings. Beating the likes of Vitality and SK is all well and good, but these matches will reveal whether or not the Lions are actually just paper tigers.
Jacob is an undergraduate student at the University of St Andrews. Originally from East Sussex, he loves writing (and sometimes shouting) about esports.