Road to Worlds 2022: Everything’s on the Line For European Teams at Play-in
Will MAD Lions and Fnatic make a statement at Worlds 2022?
League of Legends fans are in for a wild ride as Worlds 2022 kicks off on 29th September with the Play-in. Out of the 12 teams participating in the Play-in, only four will make it to the main event of Worlds 2022, making the margin for error very minimal. Europe – League of Legends European Championship (LEC) – was allowed to bring four teams to Worlds 2022 this year since the League of Legends Continental League (LCL) could not send a representative this year. So LEC will be the only region to have two teams play in the Play-In stage.
It would be unfortunate if the teams did not make full use of this golden opportunity. Here’s everything you need to know about the European teams playing in the opening stage of Worlds 2022: Fnatic and MAD Lions.
MAD Lions had a roster change coming into the 2022 season with the team bringing in Steven “Reeker” Chen as its mid-laner and William "UNF0RGIVEN" Nieminen as the attack-damage carry (ADC). The Spring Split was not a success story for the team as it placed 7th in the league standings and failed to make it to the Spring playoffs. Following this, the team signed former Fnatic mid-laner Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer for the Summer Split and it immediately seemed like things fell into place for the team. Notably, MAD Lions was the first team to lock in its Summer Playoffs spot in the LEC. Despite losing a few matches in the split, MAD Lions showed great resilience on the Rift and earned its playoff ticket.
During the playoffs, G2's win against Misfits Gaming in the Upper Bracket helped MAD Lions auto-lock its spot at Worlds 2022.
The roster of MAD Lions is as follows:
İrfan “Armut” Berk Tükek - Top lane
Javier “Elyoya” Prades - Jungle
Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer - Mid
William “UNF0RGIVEN” Nieminen - ADC
Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser - Support
MAD Lions' Previous Worlds runs
Last year, at Worlds 2021, MAD Lions was Europe’s number one seed and was directly seeded into the Group Stage of the tournament. The team managed to claw it out of groups and made it to Worlds 2021 quarterfinals where it eventually lost to Damwon Kia (DK) in a 3-0 scoreline.
At Worlds 2020, MAD Lions made it to the Play-in but could not progress further in the tournament.
For this year, all eyes will be on the top side of the map for MAD Lions with the likes of Armut, Elyoya, and Nisqy leading the charge. Nisqy showed great promise on roaming mid-laners like Taliyah in the Summer Split and Elyoya once again proved that he was one of the best junglers in Europe.
Fnatic also began its 2022 season with roster changes as it brought in former MAD Lions mid-laner Marek "Humanoid" Brázda and G2 Esports top-laner Martin "Wunder" Nordahl Hansen. It also signed Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz as the team’s jungler. Fnatic is one of the most storied organizations in the history of League of Legends esports and the only western team to have won the Worlds title back in 2011.
The team’s 2022 season was filled with ups and downs. In the Spring Split, Fnatic finished second and placed third in the playoffs after G2 Esports (Spring 2022 winner) and Rogue (RGE). Fans and analysts expected the team to bounce back and have a dominant split in Summer but it was quite the opposite case.
The LEC 2022 Summer Split was rough for Fnatic as it was at risk of missing the playoffs. Before the start of the last week of Summer, Fnatic was 7-8 in the standings and was placed 8th in the LEC, with only a 30.5% chance of locking in a playoff spot.
However, the team had a miraculous run in the last week and managed to cling to its Summer playoffs and Worlds 2022 hopes. However, the team, despite a few strong games in the playoffs, lost the title and only placed third again.
Fnatic stares at obstacles yet again
The orange-and-black squad breathed a sigh of relief after making it to Worlds 2022 but its misfortunes would continue. Late on 23rd September, Fnatic released an update to its fans through Twitter, revealing that both ADC Elias "Upset" Lipp and support Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov had tested positive for COVID-19. The organization added that its journey to Mexico would be delayed as a result.
Fnatic is yet to confirm whether it would be fielding its substitute players Louis "BEAN" Schmitz (ADC) and Mauno "beansu" Tälli (support) for the Play-in or if its bot-laners are recovering well to play themselves.
Fnatic's previous Worlds stints
Notably, the team had a sub-par performance at Worlds 2021 after Upset flew back home due to an emergency. Worlds 2020 was not a good year for Fnatic either as the team lost to Top Esports in a close 2-3 series in the first quarterfinals. The last team Fnatic had a comparatively good run at Worlds was in 2018 when it went all the way to the finals against Invictus Gaming. However, the team got stomped by IG as it lost the grand final best-of-five (BO5) in a ruthless 0-3 fashion.
MAD Lions would hope to prove that it is a top contender from Europe and that the days of G2 Esports and Fnatic storylines are long gone. Whereas, Fnatic would hope to bounce back and put up a strong performance despite lady luck not being on its side for the past few years.
Both Fnatic (Group A) and MAD Lions (Group B) have their first games of Worlds 2022 on 29th September. Stay updated with the tournament by heading on to Worlds 2022 Play-in: Teams, Groups, Schedule & More.