From highs turned into lows, followed by ending one of the most anticipated storylines in the LEC history (Schalke 04's Miracle Run), MAD Lions went from a wishy-washy end of the season to taking back their thrones. This weekend, Inven Global got to chat with the team’s top laner Andrei "Orome" Popa about their upcoming trip to Shanghai, China, his reflections on the current split, and team synergy.
Looking at the LEC in the past few weeks, I think everyone favored Schalke to win over MAD Lions this weekend. But you guys grabbed the last ticket to Worlds.
Our team was definitely going downwards towards the end of the split. Especially during Super Week, we were very burned out. During our game against SK, Origen, and Vitality, we had lost in drafts. We tend to pick champions that are better in scrims than in official games… if you think we get into too many fights during our matches, you should see what we do during scrims. [laughs]
We got kind of baited into bad team compositions because we picked champions that looked really good in scrims but did not translate to official matches. Addressing the burnout, some of us were so tired they did not want to really play the game anymore, and it was clear we needed a break. Luckily, right after Super Week, we were able to take some time off. After the break, I noticed we moved in an upwards trend. Every game we played, we improved.
The moment we started to slip up in performance, everyone started to say our team was bad, and up until our series against G2 in playoffs, where personally I think we played pretty well, we still could not reach their level and we lost.
I don’t want to flame people in general, but…
"If you think we get into too many fights during our matches, you should see what we do during scrims."
Oh, you do want to flame. That’s ok.
The public doesn’t generally understand what happens behind the scenes, in scrims and whatnot. Basically, they analyze based on results. They see 10-0 and think the team is good, then they see 0-5 and think the team is bad, or “this team lost 0-3 and they are bad”, or “this team won 3-0 so they are good”.
So the public looked at us and thought “Hmm. MAD Lions? They lost. 3-1 to G2 and lost in Super Week? This team is bad”... or “Schalke had a 10 game win streak, 3-0 SK… This team is good”. That’s where the hype comes, so they expected us to lose, but we knew we could take the series convincingly.
Did knowing you were about to face a team like S04 — which has looked very strong in their latest games — right after you lost to G2 Esports make you worry at all?
Not really. We looked at every game together and pinpointed the reasons why we had lost: the reasons were not major and easily fixable. On a good day, they would not have happened. As an example, when we played Camille-Galio and Lillia jungle, Shad0w goes to the mid lane and tries to gank Irelia while level 2, there were about five things we could have done better there that could have completely flipped the game to our side. These errors would not have happened on a better day, and maybe we would have even gone to a game five.
A better day? Define a better day then.
You know that day where the enemy survives with just 10 HP and you call that unlucky? Well, maybe on a better day, that would not have happened. [laugh]
If you have a champion and you Flash Q and you miss, maybe you’re having a bad day. On a better day...you’d land every skillshot. Everyone has a day where they miss absolutely everything in a game, but other days where you absolutely smurf and hit everything, and you think “holy sh*t, I am Faker today”.
It’s very clear to me that the MAD Lions are on the same page when engaging in teamfights. What plays into your synergy?
We just really want to fight. If someone says “FIGHT!”, you better believe we fight. [laughs] There is no second-guessing, we just go in, we go down.
What about working out this trust with your teammates?
We are great friends in general, that helps a lot with trust. We also talk a lot about the game, and about our mistakes, without sugar-coating anything. If something is bothering us about the team, we are always honest about it.
"We were so confused about how the LPL plays their games. Their priorities are all over the place, so we thought they were wrong. After trying it out, we realized they knew exactly what they were doing."
On the note of being great friends, soon you will all be in a great expedition to China. Are you excited for Worlds?
Well, I will miss my girlfriend.
I am excited to go to China with my teammates. I love to spend time with them, so I look forward to the new experiences
What teams would you like to face at Worlds?
All of the Chinese teams. Well, I’ll tell you something. After the break, we really needed to figure out the meta, and we were so confused about how the LPL plays their games. Their priorities are all over the place, so we thought they were wrong. After trying it out, we realized they knew exactly what they were doing. [laughs] They know better than us.
Why do you think they are ahead?
They have a lot more practice time than us.
So you’re telling me that you will be grinding when in China?
Oh for sure. We will be grinding, it’s our first Worlds. We all want to have a really good performance, you will see the best version of MAD Lions.