With Fnatic looking in spectacular fashion coming out of Europeâ€™s first super weekend with a 3-0 scoreline, it was up to MAD Lions to stop them in their tracks, or else face the potential of an undefeated split from the LEC giants.
In a dramatic series full of twists, turns, and gank survival with 1 hit point, it was MAD Lions who were eventually able to secure the win, bringing them into tied second place.
The back and forth nature of the game began in the draft, with Fnatic drafting the off-meta but situationally powerful pick of Soraka botlane, combined with a Graves jungle designed to make up for the missing AD Carry damage with high burst potential. Combined with comfort picks in mid and top lane, it looked as though Fnatic had secured themselves an (albeit slightly wonky) advantage in the drafting phase.
MAD were not without their own strategies, however: opting into the Senna/Wukong bottom lane pairing that saw them take a win against SK Gaming in Week 1.
They combined this bottom lane with a Lee Sin pick for jungler Zhiqiang "Shad0w" Zhao - a staple jungler who, although not able to match Graves in terms of late game power, is one of the few champions in the game with an ability to match him in early duels.
Combined with similar comfort picks to Fnaticâ€™s in Orianna and Renekton for middle and top lane, MAD loaded into the game with a clear objective- take out Graves, win the game.
MAD Lions took down Fnatic (Picture: lolesports/Riot Games)
The early game ended up heavily favouring Fnatic, with a 2v2 kill bottom lane going the way of Martin "Rekkles" Larsson and Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov.
This early lead, combined with an oppressive Twisted Fate mid lane piloted by Tim "Nemesis" LipovÅ¡ek, led to an early gold advantage for Fnatic. However, MAD Lions did not simply choose to roll over and die.
Despite the level advantage for Oskar "Selfmade" Boderek on Graves, an asset which should have made objective control a cinch, MAD were able to secure all four dragons in exchange for two rift heralds on the side of Fnatic, keeping themselves in the game with the all-important threat of a dragon soul for late game insurance.
In the end, the game came down to one teamfight - a teamfight in which some egregious mis-positioning by Nemesis allowed MAD Lions to secure both Elder Dragon and Baron Nashor in quick succession, followed by a swift end to what had previously been a close-fought game.
What does this loss mean for both teams? Well, for Fnatic fans, it should not be a source of unnecessary worry. This loss came down to an accumulation of a few silly mistakes, rather than an endemic problem with the way they chose to play the game.
For MAD fans, however, this game is an opportunity to rejoice; it is proof that the team are able to maintain a level head in a losing situation and turn a game around, a fact that is incredibly surprising considering the youth of both the team and its coaching staff.
It is clearer than ever that MAD Lions are going to be the team to watch in the LEC. You can catch their game against Origen on Saturday 20th June at 10pm CEST/9pm BST.