If you have been keeping up with MAD Lions in the League of Legends European Championship, then you are likely familiar with the simple fact of their roster consisting almost entirely of rookies. Marek "Humanoid" Brázda is the only exception to the rule.
When writing player features, I often remain anonymous to the reader, telling the stories of esports athletes that cross paths with me. As much as Marek is an exception to the rookie rule in his team, this feature is an exception to my anonymity rule. The offseason has kicked in, after all.
“You’re like, gonna write this right?”
“Yep, that is how my interviews work...”
“So I can say whatever I want?!”
“After playing against ‘The Unkillable Demon King’, I realized he was nothing special"
As the offseason is upon us, players that have been fortunate enough to safely return home during the COVID-19 pandemic have done so. Quarantined for fourteen days in his bedroom, Marek is back in the Czech Republic after an exhausting ten-hour car ride. Realistically, he is a gamer. It doesn’t really change his routine to be locked up. His words, not mine.
Coming back home to Brno, in the southeast part of the Czech Republic, Marek noticed that his room had been redone. His mother, a social worker that focuses on the elderly population, had prepared it as a birthday surprise. Marek had just turned twenty in mid-March. His medals are now all being displayed right by his bedside, showing the family’s pride.
Away from home since he was seventeen, Marek had long struggled with confidence issues, which if you know him now, would have a hard time wrapping your head around that fact.
“Before I joined the LEC I lacked confidence. I played scared. I thought every other Mid Laner in the LEC was incredibly skilled, but once I got to actually play them, I thought 'What the f*ck are most of these guys doing?' Why are they running it down? So, I figured most of them were boosted. The top four are really good, though," said Marek in a recent conversation with Inven Global.
A player's level of confidence in themselves and those around them is directly proportional to career longevity. It helps players head into a match without worrying about the outcome, or their individual performance, dictating their success over time. In Marek's case, it was the "element x" in leading his rookie self to Worlds in his first LEC Split back in 2019. Although he felt good about his and his teammates' abilities, he recalls one specific match that tested the craft he'd learn to hone.
“I really wanted to play against T1 at the League of Legends Worlds Championship. Before I played I was super excited but mostly very nervous. I was a Faker fanboy, like every other Mid Laner out there. It felt so good to go into that match, but after playing against ‘The Unkillable Demon King’, I realized he was nothing special, not insane like most people made him out to be. So far our Splyce vs. T1 series was the best of my career. Playing it on the big stage made it very special. Next time I encounter him, there will be no fear," said Marek.
The next mid lane superstar, as described by analysts and fans, thinks he is worthy of the title. “I deserve it for sure. I went to Worlds in my first year and I will probably be there again this year. Nothing else to say,” proclaimed Marek before laughing out loud.
The MAD Lions are one big pride
Marek had interviewed with me on the first weekend of the LEC, but we did not click back then. The questions were focused on team synergy, which was just something I had heard from other analysts that they had been building up quickly. It wasn’t until we became familiar with one another that I understood the MAD Lions are built on the purest form of friendship and trust. They are like no other team in the league.
If you had asked me to describe the Lions, I would have to start by saying that Marek is undoubtedly playing the older brother figure, in an endearingly high-handed way. Carzzy and Shad0w, the youngest, are following the footsteps of the older team members, and are still getting used to life in the LEC. Orome, the oldest team member, chimes in with life advice when he feels it's necessary.
At the start of the season, the coaching staff would sit down with the team to discuss strategy. Back then, Marek was the most vocal, most experienced player out of the group, leading the reviews of the team’s macro strategy. Conditioning the rookies to achieve a top spot in the Spring Split, they started from the bottom, by losing almost every scrim game.
“We were losing to NA Academy teams and that really tilted me because I saw how terrible those teams were, and losing to them was stressful. At some point, I worried we would not win a single game in the LEC. Our team improved a lot in a month. We started to win a lot of games against half of the teams in the LEC scrims. Towards the end of the season, our team scaled to winning most games,” said Marek.
When asked where the team’s relationship comes into play, he responded: “In MAD Lions, we are not just teammates. We are friends. That’s really important because our relationship outside work makes us bond with each other”. The Mid Laner brings up that he struggles to envision a world without his current teammates and the bond they share with one another. He asserts that the type of relationship they share is a result of them all having the same sense of humor, and are all “dumb monkeys”, as they call each other.
“The dumbest is Carzzy," he starts off. “Well, Carzzy is basically a giant clown, kind of like you, Lara, and I like clowns, so this is why we are all friends. Everyone needs two clowns in their life”.
I concur, as I really have no choice but to accept the truth. They have known each other for over four years now, but were just randomly put together in a team, knowing that right off the bat this would mean fun in the off-hours.
Marek adds: “Carzzy you are really cute and the best AD in the world. Thank you for being in a team with me. That is all.”
Going into the Summer Split, MAD Lions will be able to focus on the intricate details of their strategy, as opposed to the basics, now that all rookies are accustomed to stage. This should give Marek more freedom to develop into the inevitable mid laner superstar he is rumored to become, as he won't be sacrificing plays to help teammates as often.
Now that I think about it, I don’t get to call them rookies anymore. My kids are growing up so fast.
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