Marek “Humanoid” Brázda has been here before. He’s felt the adrenaline rush that’s synonymous with the League of Legends World Championship on one prior occasion. His teammates, however—all four of them—have never felt pressure quite like this.
For Humanoid, a second consecutive trip to Worlds is simply another day in the office. For the rest of MAD Lions, though, playing on the biggest stage in the world is something that’s going to take some time getting adjusted to.
Worlds presents an entirely new challenge for MAD Lions, who, as a roster, had only played 14 games together on a live professional stage coming into the World Championship. From the middle of March to the beginning of the tournament, the players had played 45 games from the comfort of their home. Only now, six months later, is the team getting a chance to play in a live environment once again.
“It finally feels like we’re playing high-stakes games again,” Humanoid said after the tournament’s first day. “Playing from home just felt like we were playing a scrim. This is the biggest tournament of the year. It feels like there’s a lot of pressure that comes with every single game.”
During the early phases of the Worlds play-in stage, that pressure might be a major contributing factor to the Lions’ inconsistencies. Particularly, MAD Lions struggled against a Team Liquid squad that, if anything, is a walking antithesis of the “four rookies, one veteran” makeup that the European squad sports.
And on day two, the struggles for MAD Lions continued as the team fell short of the mark against the TCL’s Papara SuperMassive. With losses at the hands of two of the most formidable teams at the play-in stage already setting them back, the Lions will undoubtedly have to uncover the necessary formula for running the table and turning their Worlds performance around with haste.
But even though the walls are beginning to collapse around MAD Lions, the team’s unofficial leader in Humanoid insists that “everyone can take on a bit of the pressure.” The belief that the weight of the team’s expectations can be spread throughout the lineup evenly is certainly intriguing. But if the team is going to navigate its way to the next stage of the tournament, it will need to look to a player who brought a Splyce roster to the quarterfinals at last year’s event.
Sadly for the Lions, they were unable to deal with the emerging pressure and get through play-ins. They got destroyed by the Turkish representatives in a close best-of-five series and their Worlds run after this was ended this year.