Image credit: LoL Esports (composite)
The Turkish Championship League (TCL)’s Papara SuperMassive have eliminated MAD Lions from the 2020 League of Legends World Championship before the main event, after beating them in the first elimination match 3-2.
In doing so, SuperMassive have made history: for the first time in World Championship history, a wildcard region’s team has eliminated a major region squad before the group stage. They did so in a 3-2 thriller, in a balanced collective effort. On MAD Lions’ end, they will exit Worlds as the first major region team to exit during the play-ins.
Papara SuperMassive’s deed has thrown group stage prediction in disarray, as teams other than LGD have no clear landing spot. Should LGD also lose against the Oceanic Pro League’s Legacy Esports, Team Liquid would be the only team restricted to either Group A or Group B, both with different fortunes.
Support SnowFlower and top laner Armut propelled Turkey’s hope at group stage qualification, one through numerous engages, and the other through outstanding laning and teamfighting. Although the series ended in five games, SuperMassive were dominant in the side lanes, whereas Humanoid’s performance kept MAD’s hopes alive long enough for Silver Scrapes to blast the airwaves.
As it happened:
SuperMassive were poised to smash MAD Lions in the first game using the global presences of Bolulu’s Galio and Armut’s Shen, Alistar and Hecarim’s hard-engage abilities, and Ezreal’s reliability. By the 7-minute mark, the Turkish team ganked MAD’s Wukong-Senna bot lane duo twice, securing three kills overall, one on Shad0w's Sett. Five minutes later, they set Shad0w further behind through a mid lane ambush.
However, MAD Lions’ resilience and macro sense allowed them to force an extended stalemate, with many team fights going in their favor or close, as Orome’s Mordekaiser eliminated primary targets. The two teams continually fought around objectives, with three Ocean Drakes going MAD’s way. But that was not to last: SUP’s contest and subsequent teamfight heroics by SnowFlower’s Alistar and Zeitnot’s Ezreal at the 35:40 mark abruptly ended the game.
Following their Game 1 loss, MAD Lions picked a heavy-engage composition around Carzzy’s AD Senna, Humanoid’s Lucian and Shad0w’s Lillia – a champion that had, until then, performed poorly during the play-in. With Orome and Kaiser on frontline duty, skirmishes often favored MAD Lions, but SuperMassive remained in contention throughout using Ezreal and Zoe’s poke and sieging power.
Eventually, despite warding their opponents away from Baron Nashor, SUP conceded Baron Nashor and two kills as Shad0w stole it. MAD then claimed inhibitors in the mid and bot lanes, then set sights on the top lane. A successful team fight around SUP’s red side of the jungle later, MAD Lions closed the game with Humanoid (7/2/2 KDA) still carrying a shutdown bounty.
After such a close game, SuperMassive were raring to go, claiming Lillia and a beefy frontline (Sion and Leona) for themselves. With MAD Lions reverting to the Senna-Wukong bot lane and lining up Sett and Syndra in the solo lanes–all of which need scaling–, SUP broke MAD apart during the early game with a devastating 2v2 in the bot lane (10th minute) and a well-timed gank in the top lane that yielded two kills on the solo laners (11:20).
From there, the kills and ambushes that MAD Lions scored were merely consolation prizes, as SUP claimed more kills around objectives, Baron Nashor at 25:05, and the game as MAD’s contest of Mountain Drake soul was futile (minute 32).
With game point on the line for SuperMassive, both teams opted into front-to-back compositions. The TCL team threw the gauntlet as Zeitnot picked Vayne alongside SnowFlower’s Leona, Bolulu’s Sett, Armut’s Sion and KaKAO’s Lillia. For a while, their approach worked, as they proactively sought skirmishes in the first 20 minutes of the game, holding a 7-4 kill advantage and securing three dragons in the process.
However, MAD Lions’ comp scaled – especially Carzzy’s Ezreal – and SUP’s timing window against her high damage output ran out. MAD’s Infernal Drake soul contest at the 27-minute mark was beyond successful, as they denied it, claimed three kills, took Baron Nashor shortly after, then broke through SUP’s base through the top lane. The 6,664 gold Baron power play stood as a testament to MAD’s expeditive process to end the game, with Baron timing out two seconds before the nexus exploded at 30 minutes.
With the hopes of Europe and Turkey on the line, and with the pressure of their regions on their shoulders, SuperMassive thrived and made history. It started in the five-minute mark as, due to KaKAO’s counterjungling on Lillia, Shad0w (Graves)’s forced top lane gank permanently set him back as he died to Armut’s Malphite. With the TCL squad in control, MAD struggled to bide their time, with Humanoid’s Corki as the sole champion not to concede significant leads. Although SUP dominated most of the teamfights, Humanoid made his presence felt and ramped up slowly.
MAD Lions nearly cashed in on a comeback opportunity at the 26-minute mark as they finished a scrappy 2-0 teamfight in the mid lane, but their questionable decision to turn to Cloud Drake backfired with KaKAO stealing it and MAD conceding four kills. From there, SuperMassive claimed Baron Nashor, sieged inhibitors and sealed the game afterward, as Armut removed Humanoid from the map before MAD’s last stand.