The 2020 League of Legends European Championship Spring Split concluded this weekend with two strongly anticipated series, starting with G2 Esports vs MAD Lions. Facing the Kings of Europe for the second time in playoffs, the almost-all-rookie team managed to take them down the first time, but not the following, leading G2 to face Fnatic. Inven Global had the chance to speak to MAD Lions’ Top Laner Andrei "Orome" Popa about the team’s road to the top three and his thoughts on the Split.
"We are a team with six rookies… We are all doing this thing for the first time."
The first time MAD Lions faced G2 Esports in Playoffs, the team showcased a very aggressive playstyle, penalizing your opponent for every mistake they made. On Semifinals, we expected G2 to bite back, but what do you think that led your team to lose the series?
We have devolved as a team since the last time we played G2. The loss happened due to multiple reasons. We could be burned out, and the environment that we have with the COVID-19 situation does not help, it affects our personal lives, and that can also translate into the game.
G2 did not improve so much since the last match, I feel like they adapted their style specifically to beat us. I noticed that in the game they had strategies that could only work against us.
What do you think they scouted?
They only played through the side lanes, especially Caps, while PERKZ was the only one running down mid. The team tried to catch me and Humanoid on the side a lot after they pushed waves. They noticed that the way we play is by always pushing an extra wave, and that way the opponent can’t punish us. That was a huge adaptation from our last series against them.
Let’s talk about the punishment opportunities in this game. There was a clear difference between the times your team was able to bounce back.
The first time we played against G2, it felt like they couldn’t scout us properly. They played exactly into our style of fighting all the time. That was the biggest factor, lack of research on our style of play.
The coaching staff was highly criticized for its draft choices. What are your thoughts on the champion selection?
People are trashing our coaching staff and our drafts. G2 deserved a lot of praise for their Semifinals draft, showing that they have more ADs than just Ezreal, Miss Fortune and a very shaky Varus. They picked Vayne for the first game, which was very unexpected to us.
Our Ezreal pick was meant to be… “Okay, we are picking our Ezreal, with Aphelios and Senna ban, what are you going to do?” When they picked Kalista, we expected it to go Top. We went into the draft with assumptions that they did not adapt since the last time, but obviously they did. Our coaching staff did not do anything wrong.
You mentioned that the team had been struggling with the COVID-19 situation and that had affected the way you play. How has this affected you personally?
It has been hard to not be able to see my friends, girlfriend and close family. Not being able to visit Romania in the offseason or anytime soon is not a great feeling. I would have to be quarantined for fourteen days when I arrive there, then another fourteen days when I get here, so basically that is my whole break. I will basically spend ten months without seeing them. I will be here by myself, even Carzzy and Marek are leaving to Czech Republic.
Entering the LEC in a team that had a lot of odds against; seeing yourself thrive and make it to the top three in the championship probably makes you wonder what the future holds for a team like yours...
We have been developing so much as a team and gone through so many phases and strategies that I don’t think we have found a specific one that has made us succeed. This is normal as a new team. It takes time to learn. In Summer you will see a lot from us, because now that the basics are covered, we will go into more advanced strategies.
In the beginning of the Split we only played around two lanes, leaving the third one out, and if you went into one of our two lanes, we would dive you and have mana advantage. Teams started scouting us as the team that only played two lanes at once, and they started picking champions like Ziggs to ult minion waves and buy extra time on their side. Whenever people would figure out the way we play, we would contest every objective… and people figured this out as well. *laughs*
And what about a player like you?
For myself as a player, I perform best when I know my place. If I know my role in a team, and what they need me to do, I will do it successfully. If I am unsure what I need to do, like lost in the composition or in the strategy, I will look shaky and have some bad games. This is why I have had my ups and downs this Split.
I think it is more obvious on solo lakers if they are lost on the map, since we have to go through the side lanes usually, that’s usually where most of the picks happen. You know that meme with Humanoid? “Humanoid dying on sidelane”. That comes from this as well.
Let’s talk about personal development then. What have you learned as a person from all your teammates and coaching staff?
Being with four rookies is… Well. Is Humanoid a rookie technically?
Nope. Humanoid beat up Faker’s behind at Worlds, I saw it!
You know what, make it five rookies because Mac counts as well.
In that case, so is Kaas! He is a rookie coach.
So, as you can see, we are a team with SIX ROOKIES… We are all doing this thing for the first time. *laughs*
We have all gone through periods where we found it to be more difficult to work with each other. Especially at the end of the split, it gets the hardest. At the start of the split everyone is perfect, and things start happening and…
...And you want to kill each other at the end of it. Got it.
Haha. Not as bad as killing each other... but we go through these phases of negative tension and if you are not very experienced this can be dealt with in the wrong way and it will affect your performance. Obviously in the end we are all friends and we find ways to be comfortable with each other and learn from the bad situations.
Do you think that being a rookie could have given you a leg up and a fresh view of the game, in the sense of your team seeing opportunities where established teams wouldn’t see?
That is a fair statement. Since none of us have a set way to play the game, we can easily adapt. Veterans always have their own ways to see the games and potential outcomes, but we are new to the LEC and this high level of League of Legends. Our coach has a fresh approach too, and the person that has guided us the most in the beginning of the split was Humanoid.
*Humanoid shouts from the back* Hey Lara, what’s up?
Hi Marek. Get out of my interview. Okay, you were saying...
I guess you could see in the beginning of the split that he micromanaged us more, which caused him to int a bit more. As the split progressed, so did we, and he could focus more on himself.
You tweeted earlier this year that if MAD Lions had landed in the top three teams of the LEC, you would dye your hair. So, have you picked the color yet?
I have not picked the color… One year ago I was playing in the Spanish League and we were in 9th place, doing horribly. So I tweeted that if we actually made it to EU Masters I would dye my hair. That was, to me, impossible to do, but somehow we did it… out of a 3% change. We won the playoffs and I dyed my hair.
Is that when the yellow hair happened?
Okay, I will put a photo of this on the interview.
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