As we mentioned in our Knockouts Stage preview
, the World Champions, DWG KIA
with a 2875 TrackLoL Team Rating (TTR) were favorites against the European representatives, MAD Lions
(2245 TTR). However, MAD Lions made a stand and surprised DK by taking two maps.
In a banger of a series
, DK was against the ropes and saved two "match balls" to come back from a 2-1 game deficit. In games 4 and 5, they were forced to give their best in order to come back in the best-of-5 series.
MAD Lions’ draft was focused on the laning phase, getting the early pressure with Jayce on the top lane and Zoe in mid, enabling Udyr to build an early advantage over Rumble. Both MAD Lions solo laners, Armut
, got solo kills on Khan
The game totally fell apart for MAD Lions when the team fights started. DK dominated all three team fights with a 3x0, a 4x0 and 5x1 outcome respectively.
The Baron push sealed the first game for the Korean team.
MAD Lions commit everything to try to get a pick on ShowMaker on Yone in the topside river, but he easily dodges the engage and, with the rest of DWG KIA, they clean the first team fight.
DK recorded a promising start, getting 3 kills in the bot lane with the help of Canyon
on Udyr. As we will see on the key play of the game, a 2/1/1 Kai’Sa, played by Ghost
, with a Serrated Dirk and a Pickaxe in her build fell in the 2v2 to a 0/2/1 Carzzy
on Xayah with Berserker’s Graves and a Long Sword.
One minute later, Kai’Sa fell again in the 2v2 on bot lane and even a third time after a greedy play.
A key mistake by MAD Lions trying to go for a play in mid and bot at the same time left them in a 3v4 situation in mid, allowing DK to cut the gold difference, but a Baron steal by Carzzy and securing the Cloud Dragon Soul after a BeryL facecheck put an end to game 2, tying up the series.
Even though they were behind, MAD Lions’ bot lane clinched a game-changing double kill for Carzzy to turn game 2 around:
MAD Lions decided to go for the Wukong, one of Armut’s signature picks into a 3 AD threat composition by DK (Gnar, Jayce, and Varus). They played through top and managed to put Wukong (4/0/2) way ahead of Khan on Gnar (0/4/0) after the laning phase.
In one of the best team fights of MSI, MAD Lions secure the Infernal Dragon Soul, get a pick on Canyon right after the recall, and take down DK’s Nexus with the Baron buff.
A beautiful team fight by both teams in which MAD Lions end up with an ace and a key dragon soul. Don’t worry, we will break down every aspect of the fight later in this article.
MAD Lions got off to an aggressive start, getting 5 kills to 1. However, while MAD Lions were focused on killing, DK members were getting the gold via turret plates by pressuring the lanes with Khan on Lee Sin and ShowMaker on Sylas.
That pressure allowed ShowMaker to use the teleport on a 1 HP minion on the bot lane when MAD Lions were going for a dive to claim the gold lead for DK.
Here’s MAD Lions’ tragedy in two acts:
The gold lead skyrocketed to 10,000 at minute 19 as DK demolished MAD Lions, forcing game 5.
MAD Lions got too greedy trying to go for a dive with no minion wave. ShowMaker punishes them with the teleport and a 3x0 play that wasted all of MAD Lions’ early lead.
DK moved as a unit, punishing every single MAD Lions mistake. DK claimed the decisive game 5 victory with a statement win where they were ahead of MAD Lions in every single play.
Give them an inch and they will take a mile, DK was relentless during the whole game and sealed their ticket to the MSI Finals.
A flashless Humanoid on Sylas gets spotted on a ward, Canyon and Khan punished him. ShowMaker on one of his favorite picks, Zoe, was on point all game long, look at how fast he rotates as well as BeryL
on Alistar to get the 2x0.
Thanks to their team cohesion, Elyoya helping the top lane, Carzzy and Kaiser prowess from the weak side, and Humanoid holding his lane against two of the best players in the world, ShowMaker and Canyon, MAD Lions managed to create an early lead in the first 3 games of the series. 501, 1400, and 232 gold leads at minute 15 in games 1,2 and 3, respectively.
In game 1, MAD Lions took away the Zoe and Jayce from DK and built that lead by getting the priority in both lanes but were unable to find the flanks to properly execute this kind of poke composition and lost all three team fights of the game.
In game 2, that lead came from a clear throw from DK’s bot lane dying too many times just in the 2v2. Carzzy and Kaiser were dominant and outplayed DK’s marksman and support.
Game 3 was more like a rollercoaster game as our prediction model reflects:
MAD Lions’ plan in game 3 was feeding the Wukong, and Elyoya always pathed to top to make sure that happened. That’s how MAD Lions created a small gold lead in the early game.
The game was decided in one of the best moments of this MSI. A fight for the dragon soul that has so many details to analyze:
Carzzy on Kai’Sa receives huge damage from ShowMaker on Jayce with the ‘Shock Blast’ (Q). Canyon on Rumble uses The Equalizer (R) to split up MAD Lions’ members.
Surprisingly, Kai’Sa with less than half HP, uses the heal and decides to re-engage after Humanoid on Orianna uses the ‘Shockwave’ (R) on BeryL on Nautilus.
Nautilus turns and tries to hook Kai’Sa but she goes golden with an essential Stopwatch that prevents the hook from landing plus Ghost on Varus’ ‘Chain of Corruption’ (R) that also goes past Kai’Sa.
Nautilus’ ‘Depth Charge’ (R) goes into Orianna as Kai’Sa repositions back with the flash.
With only one ultimate left to use from DK’s side, it’s time for MAD Lions to re-engage. Wukong goes in with the ‘Cyclone’ (R) trying to lift as many champions as possible and buys time with the Stopwatch. After focusing Khan on Gnar, MAD Lions move back into the fight with Kai’Sa ultimate, ‘Killer Instinct’ but Nautilus also goes golden.
Rumble overheats and flashes into Kai’Sa, taking down the main source of damage from MAD Lions but dying instantly to Wukong.
Nautilus is also taken down, but Jayce and Varus are poking out the whole MAD Lions team. Elyoya
on Udyr flashes to get Jayce, Varus kills Wukong, Gnar does so with Kaiser
on Leona and an almost 1 HP Orianna flashes and finishes Varus with her Q.
In the end, only Gnar from the DK side and Udyr and Orianna from MAD Lions are in the dragon pit. Orianna heals with the plant and solo kills Gnar right before he goes into MegaGnar form.
An absolutely hectic battle that left MAD Lions one game away from the MSI Finals.
MAD Lions got off to a good start of Game 4, getting a lot of early kills, but Khan on Lee Sin and ShowMaker on Sylas were pushing their lanes and sending Armut and Humanoid back to base. They were able to establish a gold lead with turret plates and after that teleport in the bot lane they also leveled up the kill count to snowball the game.
Unfortunately for MAD Lions, game 5 was their worst game of the series, and DK punished all their mistakes to dominate the map and advance to the Finals.
MAD Lions’ journey in MSI is over, but we should praise them for their performance. For a team that was founded in November 2019, keeping only Humanoid in their roster and adding two rookies in Carzzy and Kaiser in 2020 and Elyoya in 2021 plus the two-time TCL (Turkish League) champion Armut, putting the World Champions against the ropes in the MSI semifinals is quite an accomplishment.
The learning experience from playing on stage and scrimming against the best teams in the World has an enormous value ahead of the LEC Summer Split and a possible Worlds participation.
On the other side, DK will fight for their first MSI title. Back-to-back LCK winners and current World Champions, they will look to complete the circle. DK will face RNG in the finals in the most anticipated ending of the MSI. DK will seek revenge after dropping both games back in the Rumble Stage in a thrilling series that you must follow with us today from 9 a.m. ET / 6 a.m. PT.