On one side we had MAD Lions, who came with energised to the final instance looking to defend their crown, after a more than consistent regular season in which they finished third, and an excellent road in the playoffs where they only dropped one game against G2.
Meanwhile, Fnatic had to suffer to get here, after finishing fifth on the season, having to go through the entire losers bracket, and eliminating G2 Esports to secure the final Worlds spot from the European league.
The grand finals began with a relatively even first game, in which MAD Lions secured the first blood with a clever top lane ambush. After this, the game would remain too active between both squads, with Fnatic taking the first objectives, but MAD Lions responding with great offence and kills.
The closing of this duel was concentrated in both the Baron and Dragon pits, where Fnatic insisted on provoking their enemies to take the lead, however, MAD Lions managed to respond effectively thanks to a quadra kill from Humanoid, to take the first point of the series.
In the second game, Fnatic made some swift changes right out of the gate, taking a couple of kills in the bot lane before minute 1. This would give way to constant pressure from FNC. Although MAD had the initiative to fight it even with a Baron steal by Elyoya, they couldn’t stop the total dominance of their opponents, tying the series.
The third game would be the beginning of the end for Fnatic. Even with a slow start compared to the previous, everything was thrown in MAD's favour during a fight for the first dragon, where Bwipo, Fnatic's jungler, pushed too much and his opponents took the opportunity to finish him off and take the drake.
Fnatic would respond by taking the second dragon of the game, however, their opponents would show a lot of patience from this point, taking kills everywhere and creating an advantage impossible to reverse, having the victory assured at 32 minutes with a difference of almost 18 K gold.
The last game in the series had a similar start, with Fnatic taking first blood after a teleport from Nisqy, and MAD exterminating Adam in the top lane. The next few minutes would be fraught with skirmishes, with both teams aggressively trading kills.
Fnatic secured the game's first dragon, and by mid-game MAD Lions landed some quick kills that got them into the driver's seat, heading into a decisive team fight near the dragon. Fnatic would end up securing it, but MAD ended up taking the advantage after a great exchange in kills.
Following this, MAD Lions would secure the Baron, and Fnatic began to slowly suffocate as they took desperate measures and went even further upfront. MAD pushed all the waves, got a few more kills, and finally another Baron. Here it would only be a matter of time for MAD Lions, after a bot lane fight, to destroy all hopes of Fnatic by dominantly winning the fourth game.
With this, MAD Lions became the third time in European history to be back-to-back champions, following the legacy of G2 and Fnatic and cementing their new era in League’s competitive, as they move forward to represent the LEC as its first seed in home soil.
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Header image via Riot Games.