Team Liquid take down MAD Lions in their first game of Worlds 2020 play-in stage

MAD's rookie lineup was no match for Liquid's veteran squad.

Photo via Riot Games

In a day of upsets at the 2020 League of Legends World Championship, the LCS’ third seed, Team Liquid, beat the LEC’s fourth seed, MAD Lions, in a surprisingly one-sided matchup today. 

MAD Lions entered Worlds 2020 as one of the favorites to take the play-in stage by storm. But they seemingly had some international nerves in this match, falling in a 33-minute stomp that showcased some of the team’s biggest weaknesses. 

With Europe fielding four seeds for Worlds this year, MAD came into the tournament as underdogs. But many League fans still favored them in this matchup against a Liquid squad that barely made it to Worlds after a streak of poor performances in the LCS playoffs. But Liquid’s internationally experienced roster, boasting a Worlds finalist and two world champions, was more than capable of taking down Europe’s most volatile team. 

The draft phase saw Liquid pull out the first rotation Twitch pick for rookie Tactical, a conditional hyper carry easily shut down by hard crowd control but one of the best hyper carries in the game if allowed even a hint of an advantage. MAD responded with a second rotation Leona for support Kaiser, one of Twitch’s hardest matchups due to her aggressive laning phase and power in early skirmishes.

With even matchups in the mid and top lane, this game was all about shutting down Liquid’s bot lane early and allowing Shad0w to farm on Evelynn. Despite the supposedly favorable matchup for MAD’s bot lane, early over-aggression by Kaiser left Tactical’s Twitch with two kills at 12 minutes. And from there, MAD simply weren’t able to lock down the rat. 

While the bottom lane slowly caught fire for MAD, the top lane was a raging inferno from the beginning. Orome was no match for an ex-world champion and the solo kills just kept rolling in for Impact’s Mordekaiser. With a Liandry’s Torment in his pocket at 15 minutes, Impact proceeded to put on a top lane masterclass the likes of which are only seen at international events, ending the game with seven kills, three and a half items, and North America’s hopes and dreams on his shoulders. 

MAD mid laner Humanoid had a strong performance in this game, though. He managed to accrue a 50-minion lead over Jensen’s Twisted Fate at 20 minutes despite the chaos surrounding him. Of all the players on MAD’s team, Humanoid had the best chance of shutting down the Twitch with Syndra providing both the crowd control and raw damage to one-shot Tactical before he could even realize what hit him. But no amount of damage can kill a Mordekaiser from full health and no amount of crowd control can stop him from mowing through your team like freshly cut grass. 

Unsurprisingly for the first matchup of major region teams at the tournament, this game pulled in some incredible viewership numbers with 1.15 million peak concurrent viewers across multiple platforms, according to analytical service Esports Charts. Liquid are now 1-0 at Worlds 2020, while MAD Lions drop to 1-1.

This was a disappointing opening day of Worlds 2020 for MAD Lions, with their victory against the CBLoL’s INTZ looking far sloppier than expected by fans. Shad0w’s Evelynn has been a clear issue for the team. Despite her overall strength in the current meta, he simply doesn’t look confident on the champion. With his signature Lee Sin an easy ban or early pick for teams facing the European squad, MAD will have to look for other jungle picks that can provide a similar level of early pressure. Lilia’s high ban presence makes her an unreliable staple in the draft phase. 

Worlds 2020 continues tomorrow, Sept. 26, at 3am CT.