MAD Lions made unfortunate history on September 29, becoming the first European team to drop out of the League of Legends World Championship in the play-in stage after falling to Turkish squad Papara SuperMassive.
In the nine Worlds events that have taken place over the years, only one seeded team from a major region have failed to progress from the play-in portion of the event, when in 2017 HKA from the LMS region lost 3-0 to Fnatic to drop out of the tournament at the final hurdle.
For MAD Lions, the defeat gives them the unfortunate distinction of being the first LEC team to drop out in play-ins, coming up short in a tense battle against the Turkish squad that required all five games of the best-of-five series to determine a winner.
MAD Lions came into play-ins with momentum, finishing third at Spring Playoffs and second in the regular-season portion of the Summer Split. But, the team filled with rookies struggled to put together the performances they put on in LEC competition, and with 2020 marking Carzzy, Kaiser, and Shad0w’s first years as top-level professionals, they looked overawed at times by the occasion as SuperMassive piled on the pressure and forced mistakes.
The series saw the blue side of Summoner’s Rift dominate throughout, with the team on that side winning every single game, but many may look at MAD Lions’ drafting, especially heading into the final game, as one of the main reasons they are now heading home, which their champion selection leaving a little to be desired, and causing synergy issues when their game plan didn’t immediately work in Game 5.
Humanoid tried to pull his team through with impressive performances across the series, but SuperMassive’s teamwork proved to be too slick and too powerful for the inexperienced MAD Lions to contend with, especially in the final game which saw the TCL representatives turn the screw early on and punish MAD Lions in team fights, culminating in a 29-minute stomp that rarely looked like it would end any other way than with a SuperMassive victory.
While the loss may be historic for MAD Lions, the victory puts TCL’s SuperMassive just one match away from the group stages of Worlds 2020, and would see them make history of their own should they make it that far.
To do so they’ll need to make it past LCL’s Unicorns of Love in another best-of-five series on September 30, while Oceania’s Legacy Esports take on the LPL’s LGD Gaming for their own shot at groups.