Coming into the beginning of the 2022 LEC Summer Split, many were curious if the addition of Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer would allow them to surpass their campaign earlier in the year. While that question seems to be answered (with a resounding "yes"), a new question appears: is this the best MAD Lions team we've seen?
Some would argue their early game style is more suited for international play, but there's still an entire playoffs to put their lineup to the test. Inven Global spoke with Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser, to compare the different eras of MAD Lions, what his team needs to work on, and who the most valuable player of his team is.
The last time I spoke with you, you mentioned how this lineup had the chance to surpass the MAD Lions of 2021. Since then, you guys have looked very strong, and are currently the top-ranked team in Europe. Do you feel your initial prediction is proving true?
It's still hard to say, because the last couple of patches were really good for us, and we had a lot of success, because we knew what to play and what to do. On the current patch, we are less sure, and I feel like it showed today as well (against Rogue), because we couldn't get a clean read on the meta.
About being able to be better than last year's MAD Lions: I'm still not sure. Humanoid and Carzzy had a really high ceiling, and we, as a team, functioned really well. But the atmosphere is similar to last year, and player-wise, Nisqy and UNF0RGIVEN are really stepping up as well. I don't think it's even clear whether Humanoid and Carzzy are better than UNF0RGIVEN and Nisqy right now. I would say, for both of them, it's for sure that they're playing better than their counterparts right now. So we actually have the potential to be better for sure. Right now, we are not there yet. But maybe given time — around Worlds maybe — we'll be better.
What are the main differences you see between these two eras of the team?
Team atmosphere might be a bit more lighthearted — we are having more fun. Although that was also prevalent in the last iteration of MAD Lions, but I think it got amplified with Nisqy coming in. Because he's a really nice guy — he's really fun to be with. So that kind of got better, I would say.
Aside from that, we are more focused on early game, because Nisqy likes to play roaming champions. He makes facilitates us in the game together with Elyoya and me roaming around the mid lane. Whereas in last year's MAD Lions, we didn't really play to scale, but we usually played control mages like Orianna. We were just farming and playing into late-game, and then usually outscaling.
Other than getting a better understanding of the meta, what do you see as your biggest focus going into playoffs?
We need to focus on mid-late game, and maybe diversifying our drafts. Because right now, we are pretty one-dimensional. And in playoffs, being one-dimensional is the worst thing you can do — you have to play five games against the same team, and they can prepare for you all week as opposed to how it is in the regular season.
So it's much easier to prepare just for one team, and if you don't have multiple styles prepared, or if you only play one style and they know how to counter it or ban a champion that you always play right, then it gets a lot harder over the course of a best of five. Because the best-of-five meta evolves in itself, and it's much easier to throw a curveball with a champion that no one ever has seen before. We need to start preparing for that, because right now, we are built onedimensional.
What's been your overall perception of UNF0RGIVEN now that you've had a significant amount of time to develop with him? Is he close to performing as the best AD carry in Europe?
He's for sure up there. There are some other AD carries that are really smart and really mechanically skilled as well. For example, Patrik, Comp, and Upset I would say are the top candidates up there. The AD carries in EU are really close together in skill level. UNF0RGIVEN really outdid himself this year — he improved so much from Spring, especially when it comes to macro gameplay, weakside play, etc.
And his Draven, for example, is power-banned for a reason. He's showing so many good performances. He is for sure up there. I wouldn't be confident saying he and are number one, since other bot lanes in EU are really good as well. So yeah, we just have to see how we as well and improve.
Side point, but I had to ask: what's your opinion of the hype surrounding JeongHoon?
He's for sure really good, because he's really annoying to play against, since he just likes to play these annoying champions like Bard and Pyke and roams around the map. His map play's pretty good. Sometimes, he maybe leaves his AD carry out to dry too much. But yeah, in general, his mechanics are really good, his meta...I mean, sometimes he maybe relies on comfort too much. Sometimes, maybe he's picking too much for comfort, and he has to branch out his champion pool a bit more. But I think on the champions — Tahm Kench, Pyke, Bard — he plays them really well. He definitely belongs to the top supports in Europe right now.
Speaking of top players, I wanted to ask you about MVP discussions. Obviously, someone on the best team is always looked at for this honor. I know it's difficult, but who would you so is most deserving of the players on MAD to potentially receive this award?
That's pretty hard to say, because I feel like we were all playing pretty well. So I don't want to single anyone out. But I would still give it to Elyoya. Because he's just the main shotcaller of our team, and he's playing pretty well. There have been some rough games for him as well, where maybe he just ints sometimes for something, but he always tries to carry the game with his comms.
And I really respect that, because I can't really do that myself and I know how hard it is. So to be able to do that and also play really well — I have to give it to him because he does so much. But I wouldn't say he's really far away from the second one, because we're all playing really well. Nisqy has really good comms as well and is always roaming, Armut has improved his laning so much, and we as a bot lane are always really stable (and sometimes smash lane and win the game from there). So we all deserve it, but I would still give it to Elyoya just because of his shotcalling proficiency.
What has been the big change for him? It seems like night and day how much better he is from Spring. Is it just a matter of the roster swap?
I would say in Spring, Elyoya also looked pretty good. Sometimes he really was carrying us. But the thing is, his jungle-mid synergy was not the greatest with Reeker. I don't think they understood each other too well. And now with Nisqy coming in — they knew each other from before, and he's really good friends with Nisqy.
I'm not sure if Elyoya is an emotional player — he can look at the game in an objective manner — but I think he's a really fun-driven player. And if he has fun in the game, then he's just gonna be even more confident in his calls. And he will just carry with comms. And I feel like with NIsqy, he has a lot of trust in him, and that makes it easier for him to shotcall the game, because he knows that he's gonna have someone backing him up. And I feel like maybe that was missing in spring.
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