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MAD Mac: “Generally speaking, I haven’t been super impressed with the level of the LEC this season”

For the first time in the 2021 Summer Split, MAD Lions obtained a perfect week by defeating Excel Esports and Schalke 04 Esports, going 2-0 in Week 5. It is a much needed morale boost for the defending LEC champions as they face SK Gaming and Team Vitality next week.

Head Coach James “Mac” MacCormack spoke to us after their win against Schalke and talked about their game against S04 and his thoughts on the LEC’s strength in summer.

First and foremost, thank you for accepting this interview with us. Congratulations on the win today and going 2-0 in Week 5! The first thing I’d like to ask about is your draft against S04 when you guys got Gwen, Viego and Akali in the first round. What are your thoughts on S04 giving you three exceptionally strong picks?

Mac: I don’t like to be so hasty thinking the game is won from draft (laughs). Any game that I can have Marek “Humanoid” Brázda on Akali is a game that I feel pretty comfortable with in general, and it’s honestly hard to feel bad about the draft in those cases.

I was more or less happy with the draft, we got pretty much what we wanted. I wouldn’t say it would have been an easy win though and I was a bit worried about how easy it would be for them to engage Aphelios with Lulu and Diana, for example. At the end of the day, we had too many carries for them to one-shot so it turned out fine.

I believe Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság mentioned he hasn’t really practiced Aphelios too much. Why draft Aphelios in this match for Carzzy?

Mac: I think Aphelios is good when the enemies have to engage onto you and you can kite back effectively, and also we had a lot of threats on our team because if they engage onto Aphelios, then Akali and Gwen can jump onto their backline, and we have Viego as well.

Obviously, we could have gone for the tried and tested Carzzy Kai’sa which would have been fine as well. It was honestly down to his personal choice in this game. I think Aphelios was a good choice because it gives you more early game priority than Kai’Sa does in general, especially if you have melee champions in mid and top lane like Akali and Gwen, who don’t tend to get prio that easily against ranged matchups. It helps to get bot lane prio in those situations as well.

I spoke to İrfan Berk “Armut” Tükek last week and we talked about him not getting the opportunity to play Gwen or Viego in official games, and today he finally got to play Gwen! Was he happy that he finally got the chance to play her today?

Mac: (laughs) I think he definitely wanted to be able to play her and some of the new champions. It’s taken us a long time to adapt to certain champions and Gwen’s been one of them. Armut has been ready to play Gwen for a couple of weeks now but the situation didn’t really appear because we really didn’t like playing against it until now.

I think we have a much better read on the champion now. Armut’s much more comfortable with it and our players are much more comfortable playing into it as well. This week was the right timing and Armut was definitely pleased to play it today!

You mentioned previously that MAD Lions had trouble adapting to the new meta after MSI 2021, how has it been adapting to the current patch where Riot is trying to bring split-pushing back?

Mac: I don’t split-pushing is really that much in the meta anyway, to be honest. I haven’t actually seen anyone build Hullbreaker yet (laughs)! Obviously the extra gold is nice for split-pushing but I think it will impact solo queue a lot more than in competitive, because in competitive the value of grouping up and fighting is much too high right now.

It’s nice to have a lot of melee champions in the meta though and I personally like it a lot. I really liked the 2019 meta where it had things like Irelia or Aatrox mid, Sylas, Akali…I love metas where people are double flexing picks or lane-swapping. I like that type of creativity in the meta so I’m happy to see people playing Viego, Sett, Renekton, Lee Sin and champions like that. Even the mid lane meta with Lucian, Twisted Fate etc. is quite varied right now and it’s nice to see. I’m pretty happy with the meta and now I think our players are happy with it too.

I think one of the biggest hangups we saw at MSI was that our players had been playing the same champions for three solid months. Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batall had been playing Udyr for three months with no break and Humanoid was playing Orianna, Viktor, and sometimes Twisted Fate, for three months straight! We’re definitely happy to be learning new champions and sometimes we’ll mess up but I think it’s a nice breath of fresh air.

The general audience likes varied metas as well, but for the team and as a coach, do you think this makes your jobs a lot more difficult and burnout comes more quickly when you have to prepare for tons of variation in strategy and picks in every game?

Mac: Not necessarily, but it depends on the type of players you have. If you have players who will more or less play anything or flex things into different roles, or are even happy to lane swap to top lane as a midlaner, with those players it is honestly very easy. And then, you have players who are more specialised who will prefer to play three to five champions. In a very flex pick centric meta, those guys can encounter some problems but it’s also really easy at the same time since I can pick him those three champions and make sure he doesn’t get hit too hard by some annoying, random flex pick.

I don’t think it makes too much of a difference to me. Personally, I really enjoy the creativity it brings to drafting. I think it gives teams a much more level playing field when the meta is really varied because some players are good at front-to-back, some are good at laning and so on, and you will have that expressed in the teams that they play in. I think it’s always a shame when the meta changes really drastically and a team gets pushed out of contention because a big meta shift means they style that they favour sucks now. I much prefer added flexibility and creativity.

You also mentioned in a recent interview that you don’t think Misfits Gaming will remain a top team, and they’re not that strong in scrims. If we’re going by scrims, which team or teams do you see being at the top of LEC, other than yourselves?

Mac: To be honest, I haven’t felt anyone is crazy good right now. We’ve had a lot of rough scrim weeks ourselves because we had so much going on, so it’s not easy to get a good read but generally speaking, I haven’t been super impressed with the level of the LEC this season. I think there have been so many changes that teams haven’t found their footing yet.

I would say Rogue currently looks the best because they’ve stayed the same since spring. Even G2 Esports has made a lot of changes, I don’t how much of that is them bringing in Sng “Nelson” Yi-Wei or they’ve decided to change their playstyle because they lost in spring, but their drafting and in-game playstyle have changed a fair bit. I’d say they are still figuring themselves out, but G2 and Rogue do seem like the best teams at the moment.

But overall, I’m not massively impressed with the level of the LEC. Even though there are teams that do certain things well, like Misfits has a pretty good early game most of the time. Their early games are really competitive with the top teams but their mid games are… not very good. I don’t think that’s an unfair statement when you look at the way they lost against Rogue for example, where they were massively ahead but lose the game off one poor rotation by not covering a flank properly and got one-shot by Fiddlesticks.

Of course, I don’t want to single out Misfits and this is just one particular example. I just don’t think there’s one team in Europe who does it all and does it well, including us right now. I don’t think we’re at a particularly good level yet.

So on to the last two questions, next week you face SK Gaming and Team Vitality. What are your expectations facing SK?

Mac: For SK, they’ve been more down than up, that’s for sure. They’ve been really struggling but I think the addition of Lilipp was a good change, although I would have preferred to see them bring in a jungler and put Erik “Treatz” Wessén back to support. Treatz has been doing a good job, to be fair to him.

Against SK, it’s a game that most people expect us to win, there’s not much more to say on that. Obviously it’s a best-of-one and anything can happen, so it’s hard to say what kind of game that will be.

What about Team Vitality?

Mac: Vitality is a really interesting one because that team is really up and down, like really up and down (laughs)! Either they are stomping people or they are getting stomped. Interestingly enough, our last game against Vitality was one of their only games that wasn’t a stomp in one direction or the other! The only prediction I can give against Vitality is:

1) The draft is probably going to be really weird
2) It’s probably going to be a bloodbath!

Thank you very much Mac and good luck!

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