MAD Lions are alive and kicking in the 2022 League of Legends World Championship. After narrowly losing to LCK fourth seed DRX on Day 4, the European roster finds themselves in a knockout bracket against Saigon Buffalo. Should MAD Lions win the best-of-five, they advance to play against Evil Geniuses for a spot in the Worlds 2022 Group Stage.

Despite some shaky performances from the team, MAD Lions support Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser is still confident that his team will advance to the Group Stage at Worlds. He spoke to Em Dash about MAD Lions finding their comfort at the Worlds 2022 meta and how the team is learning as the tournament progresses. Kaiser also looked forward and shared why he feels good about his team’s odds of making it through.

Lessons from the LEC

Welcome, Kaiser! At the time of this interview, there is still a chance you have to play tiebreaker scenarios, so let’s leave those out at this point in time. Instead, let’s take a step back to the end of the LEC Summer Split. It was a disappointing ending for MAD Lions, but you had to shift gears and focus on Worlds too. How did you do that?

It wasn’t really that hard. I mean, we performed badly, right? But it happens. We were kind of used to it from Spring. [Laughs] We are still happy that we made Worlds after this horrible spring. In general, I think we should have performed better than we did. Making Worlds made us decently happy already though. We tried to focus on the positive side of things instead of being too negative about it because that doesn’t really help, right?

“There might be some uncertainties here and there, but we’re much more comfortable with these aggressive champions.”

I imagine it also came with a lot of reflection about what went wrong in the process. What did you learn from studying yourself and from that reflection?

It’s hard to say, to be honest. I think there were a lot of different issues in different games. For example, against Fnatic, I think we shouldn’t have given them Lucian/Nami three times in a row. We just misidentified what we wanted to do in the draft. In some games, we just messed up the mid game. I think our mid game is still lacking. Especially when we snowball, I think we don’t snowball cleanly. We are working on that right now as well. Aside from that, I think the meta suits us better now with all the engage supports coming back, the aggressive junglers… The aggressive style just suits us more than the enchanter/scaling meta.

Kaiser says the Worlds 2022 meta suits him better than the meta of the 2022 LEC Summer Split. (Source: Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games)

Finding comfort at Worlds

Looking at this Worlds, you went 3-2 but there were some wins that were quite messy too. There were a few moments where I had flashbacks to MAD Lions in 2020. [Laughs] But what do you ascribe that messiness to?

I think it comes back to our mid game again. In most games, we were ahead in the early game, but we just threw the important team fights. I also think that, in general, the wildcard teams are not that bad, to be honest. I think people underestimate them. They took a game off Fnatic and are performing decently against us, for example. I think you can’t underestimate them. Of course, our mid game kind of helped them. [Laughs] But aside from that, I think wildcard regions are actually pretty good.

Something you mentioned before is the meta, with the aggressive style suiting you more. Do you already feel comfortable with what you have to play?

For sure. There might be some uncertainties here and there, but we’re much more comfortable with these aggressive champions. I’m more used to playing Leona, Nautilus, and Amumu instead of any enchanter. Nisqy can play his aggressive roaming picks like Vex, and even Armut with his Aatrox and Gnar is in ‘his’ meta.

“Playing against NA would obviously be really fun as well, kicking them out.”

In the game against DRX, you shook things up with a Mordekaiser top and Bel’Veth jungle. It went pretty well for the vast majority of the game. What gave you the confidence to pull out these champions in one of the most important games at Worlds for you?

Those picks are pretty underrated, I think. Bel’Veth performs pretty well in the current meta because some tank junglers can’t deal with hear damage. She’s pretty strong in the 2v2s as well. Vex is just a really good champion against Sylas and Camille with all the dashes that they have. Mordekaiser was just there to be the weak side, but he can also set up for ganks. As you saw, he just ults Camille, Camille can’t really move away, and then suddenly four people are on top of her and she dies. It’s a really good champion against melee champions in general. They have to run into this Mordekaiser, who is a juggernaut. I think the champions we picked are actually pretty good in this game. It’s just that DRX’s Sivir/Yuumi combo was pretty good into our comp, and we maybe underestimated those picks. Perhaps we should’ve drafted around them.

You’ve been at Worlds before, but you’re playing alongside UNF0RGIVEN, who is new to the stage. He doesn’t strike me as someone who is super stressed, but at the same time, you never know how someone reacts to stages like this. How is it going with him so far?

I don’t think he feels that stressed. I think he is performing pretty well. The biggest problem we had were things like illnesses, just feeling bad in general. Maybe that affects our play a bit. I think other teams are struck as well by the same teams. It’s a bit unfortunate that it happens now. But nerves-wise, I think Willy [UNF0RGIVEN] is performing well. He is still communicating as he usually is. You don’t really notice that he’s like shaking or doing stupid stuff. I think he’s just his usual self.

Kaiser and UNF0RGIVEN have to beat the bot lane duos of Saigon Buffalo and Evil Geniuses if they want to make it to the Group Stage. (Source: Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games)

MAD Lions’ first best-of-fives

At this point in time, it’s guaranteed that you’ll have to play at least one best-of-five. How are you feeling about that? After all, notoriously, it’ll be the first best-of-five for MAD Lions this year.

We should still be confident, I think. We play EG, LOUD, or DFM, right? I think there are actually pretty decent teams in there. I would like to play against EG. They might actually be the weakest of the bunch. [Laughs] Playing against NA would obviously be really fun as well, kicking them out. But we’ll see. I’m still confident because I think we’re better than those three teams. Even though we lost every best-of-five and still made it to Worlds, it’s not like we’re bad in best-of-fives. I think we just played badly in general. In Play-Ins we didn’t play that well either, but we can still be confident. I think we learned a lot, especially this game [against DRX]. We learned about drafting, about the mid game as well… If we focus more on those things, we can still make it to the Group Stage.

You sound quite confident, which is good! The eyes are on you once again in the Play-In Stage and the other LEC teams already made it to the Group Stage.

Yeah, I don’t think we should feel any different. We should just take the upcoming best-of-five as we take the best-of-ones. We don’t have to do anything crazy. We just prepare for the team that we will play against. We should be able to make it through.

MAD Lions plays their series against Saigon Buffalo on Oct. 3, at 8 PM CEST. The full Play-In schedule can be found here. You can watch the series on the official LoL Esports site.