After a disastrous start to the 2023 Winter split, MAD Lions found themselves struggling at the bottom of the league with their Playoff hopes on the line. However, the team might have bought the last ticket to the Playoffs with their win against SK Gaming, which ended a four-game loss streak. Currently, MAD Lions have a 3-5 record and are eighth in the LEC standings.
The odds are in their favor, but nothing is secured yet for the Winter split finalists as they have to win their remaining game against G2 Esports to secure the last Playoff spot. However, if both Excel Esports and Team Heretics lose their games, MAD Lions will automatically qualify.
Following the important win against SK Gaming, MAD Lions’ mid-laner Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer sat down with BLIX to discuss the team’s season and what went wrong:
Yohan Markov, BLIX.GG: Congratulations on the victory! What did you think of the match against SK Gaming?
Nisqy: I enjoyed the game and I think it showed that when we have the tools, we can play a good game. Our meta read was not the best in the past few weeks and the way we were playing the game was not good. This is how we like to play when we are proactive in the early game and our team fighting is good. Today was a good example of why we should make playoffs at the minimum. I think we can challenge the top teams and it felt good playing today. We needed to get our confidence back because if we lost, it wouldn’t be in our hands whether we make the Playoffs or not.
BLIX: Talking about drafting, there were discussions of your draft against fnatic. When you look back at it, did you think it was lost from the beginning?
Nisqy: In the game, we felt that it was playable but after ten minutes, we were wondering what we could do (laughs). Overall our draft was bad against fnatic, we gave them what they wanted.
BLIX: I would like to ask you about MAD Lions’ performances this split because clearly, something happened. You had a 7-2 record in Winter and reached the finals, but now you are struggling to make the Playoffs. What would you say was the main reason for that?
Nisqy: I think our meta read was not the best as a team. Our team play was also not the best. There was a correlation between our drafts not being necessarily easy and we had a lot of issues in the early games. Also, when we got ahead early, we would grief in the mid-game because our fights were way too fast.
BLIX: Do you think the break in-between splits was also not enough?
Nisqy: I think it was fine. Maybe we needed a bit more rest. At least for me, I took three days off and then went back to the solo queue. For me, it was not necessarily enough but I feel like I wasn't as prepared as the last split.
BLIX: What about the atmosphere in the team? You are used to winning from the previous split, and you’re in a different position. Could you feel any nervousness or pressure around the team?
Nisqy: I don’t think nervous is the word. It’s just very sad because we know we can be good. The problem is that it wouldn’t work on stage. In our mind, we would have a draft that can work out in a certain way and then the enemy team does the opposite. Also, we would give good opportunities to the enemy and make the game very hard to play.
Our practice hasn’t been that bad, it’s just on stage that everything crumbles. After today, everyone will feel more confident and from now on, it should be way better.
BLIX: It’s a do-or-die game against G2 Esports tomorrow… (BLIX.GG's note: today, the interview was taken March 26)
Nisqy: Yeah… Hopefully, Heretics lose against Vitality, and then it's one less burden on my chest (laughs).
BLIX: What would you say is the biggest difference between MAD lions in Winter and Spring?
Nisqy: I think our mid-jungle and support synergy was not the best this split. We were not on the same page which made the game harder to play, especially in team fights. It was way worse compared to the previous split.
BLIX: Based on your Winter split points, you still have a chance to make it to MSI. Of course, you have to reach the Playoffs first, but is that something that makes you feel safer?
Nisqy: Not really. For me, I want to be a top team again. I want to be in the finals, but realistically speaking, we have to make the Playoffs first. One thing at a time.
If you asked me this question two weeks ago, I would say that I want to make finals because I would think that I am 100% in the Playoffs. But right now, nothing is secured and I would like to get to the Playoffs first.
BLIX: If you do make the Playoffs, what should we expect from MAD Lions there and what’s the best way to turn it around?
Nisqy: If we make it to the Playoffs, I believe we will be way cleaner in the way we play the game. We would have way more thought, drafts would be more prepared because we have a week off after this one and there will be more time to prepare. Also, we’ll know who we play and we’ll be able to prepare new picks, practice more as a team and relax a bit.
If we make it, I believe we’ll be in the top four of the teams.