League of Legends European Championship (LEC) representatives MAD Lions advanced to the elimination rounds after fending off Campeonato Brasileiro de League of Legends (CBLoL) representatives INTZ Esports in Group A’s fourth-place tiebreaker.
MAD Lions (1-3 before the tiebreaker) recovered from a botched play-in group stage, where they lost consecutively to Team Liquid, Papaya SuperMassive, and Legacy Esports. Their victory in their first game of the tournament against INTZ Esports allowed them to fight for their tournament lives with both tied 1-3, but INTZ challenged them every step of the way. In the tiebreaker, they did so again.
The action prompted relief from MAD Lions after their close encounter with INTZ, prompting a deluge of emotions to flood upon them. “There’s so many mixed emotions right now,” Andrei “Orome” Popa said on the broadcast interview. “I cannot even describe it; there is frustration, anger, happiness, relief.”
With their tournament lives on the line, MAD Lions focused on a teamfight-heavy composition with Orianna, Ezreal and Graves as the primary damage threats. INTZ also brought teamfighting tools with Sett and Camille’s engage-heavy kit, but also brought sieging artillery with Kog’Maw, and rounded out their composition with Tahm Kench as a carry insurance policy for Kog’Maw and Senna.
INTZ bared their fangs early with a first blood in the top lane at the 11-minute mark, and it seemed as if MAD Lions were heading out of the competition after a scatterbrained teamfight engage at the 24th minute led to them conceding a 5-for-3 ace, Cloud Drake, minion wave control and eventually a 26-minute Baron Nashor.
However, willed by Marek "Humanoid" Brazda's Orianna (4/1/7 KDA) with their backs against the wall, MAD showcased the resourcefulness they displayed in the LEC, which they led for most of the summer split. An isolated kill on Rodrigo "Tay" Panisa’s Camille neutralized INTZ’s splitpushing effort, and a subsequent teamfight call halted INTZ’s siege attempts in their tracks, flipping the game into an even state.
With MAD’s scaling realized in the 32nd minute, as they hit their three-item power spikes, INTZ’s demise was a matter of time. Indeed, the subsequent teamfights went to MAD’s favor, with Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser's Leona starting the game-deciding skirmish around INTZ Esports' wraiths at the 36-minute mark. Humanoid once again became INTZ's bane with a mid-fight flank taking INTZ's carries out of the team fight. The long respawn timers culminated in a subsequent Nexus takedown, and in MAD's qualification.
“It’s the elimination match, and nerves are over the top,” Orome said. “Obviously, no one wants to be the one that loses the game that [takes] the team out of Worlds. Everyone had this feeling of nervousness, that no one wants to be the person that plays the worst, losing your team the game. I think everyone stepped up in the last game to have a cleaner [game] than the previous games.”
INTZ exit the competition with their heads held high as they beat then-undefeated Team Liquid on the way to securing the tiebreaker scenario, off the back of strong performances from Tay’s Camille and Ygor "RedBert" Freitas’s Alistar. However, their slight lack of lucidity when executing their game plan, and their minor (yet crucial) macro lapses landed them in fifth place as they lost twice during the play-ins to MAD.
MAD Lions proceed to the bracket stage where they face the Turkish Championship League (TCL)’s Papara Supermassive in a best-of-five. The winner of that game advances to a final decider match for a spot into the group stage, where the League of Legends Continental League (LCL)’s Unicorns of Love await for a potential rematch of the 2019 Worlds play-in decider between Splyce and UoL.