It’s all hands on deck for MAD Lions. Ahead of the final best-of-one week in the LEC Spring Split, the team sits in a shared last place with a 2-4 score. With only three games left to play, the Winter Split silver medalists are desperately fighting to claim a top-eight spot and advance to the Group Stage. Mid laner Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer sees his team’s hurdles, but has faith in their recovery. After MAD Lions beat Astralis, Nisqy spoke with Em Dash about his team’s progress and what they need to fix in order to fight their way back to the top of the LEC.

Rocky start to the Spring Split

Welcome, Nisqy, and congratulations on the win against Astralis. I have to say, though, that MAD Lions hasn’t left the same impression it did during the Winter Split. You went 1-2 in the first week—what went wrong?

I think in our first two games, the way we played our early game, we were not playing as a team. We were mostly playing as if it was solo queue. In the game against BDS, for example, Hyli and I were making plays as a duo, rather than playing with Elyoya. We were just on different pages. Our draft in game one was also really rough. Even though I definitely played badly in that game, I think it was still hard to win. [Laughs] But I do think it’s getting better now.

“If you keep making mistakes in practice, you will also make them on stage. We need better practice.”

The break between the end of the Winter Split and the start of the Spring Split wasn’t that long. What’s the reason the team looks so disjointed after a short break?

We didn’t have much practice before the split—we maybe had five days, something like that. The game moved to a new patch and we had a lot of ideas. Annie became meta, there is Aurelion Sol… The jungle meta also changed a lot. I wouldn’t say we were rusty, but we weren’t in our best mechanical form either because we took a break.

Nisqy LEC MAD Lions 2023
Nisqy sees a lot of room for improvement in MAD Lions’ practice. (Source: Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

MAD Lions’ hurdles and progress in 2023

I mostly want to talk about the development of MAD Lions this year so far. You and Elyoya quickly formed a core duo around which MAD built its game plan. That has continued this year, as you were the only two to stick around. How do you view the team’s growth with the three new players, and what have been the biggest hurdles?

Our mid game can be better, I would say. I think our early game is good, or at least good enough, against almost every team. G2 is a team that will challenge that. But overall, we have really good plans, we know what to do.

I think we take it a bit too slow in the mid game sometimes. I believe that, if you’re a good team, you can end the games very quickly. We tend to take it slower. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the really good teams are better at abusing their advantages. We’re slower with that. I don’t mind playing it like that because, if you play slower, you don’t make as many mistakes. But at the same time, it allows the enemy to find more ways to get back.

Today we did a better job at playing fast. It was still not as fast as we could’ve played. For example, Chasy died once in the bot lane, which was not good at all. Carzzy also died in the mid lane, which wasn’t good at all either. There still are mistakes that slow down the game. Besides that, I think our progress looks pretty good.

“Hyli is very decisive in what he wants to do and he permanently calls for it. (…) his communication helps a lot for our mid/jungle play”

What are the reasons for those mistakes to keep happening? Are they individual mistakes, or is the communication within the team not clear and do Carzzy and Chasy, in this case, get wrong information from the team?

It’s mostly individual mistakes. Sometimes I make plays that I should not have made as well. I think it comes from practice. If you keep making mistakes in practice, you will also make them on stage. We need better practice. We did get that this week, finally. Our practice was not terrible. [Laughs] We learned some stuff. If we keep that up, we will only get better.

Still, if we look at the combined results this year so far, the team does look much better now than it did at the end of the season last year, even though there are many new pieces. That’s quite remarkable.

The fact that I stayed together with Elyoya is a big plus for that, I think. Our synergy was already really good last year and this year it just got better. Hyli is also really vocal in-game compared to Kaiser. Kaiser wasn’t a shy person, but he doesn’t communicate as much as Hyli. Hyli is very decisive in what he wants to do and he permanently calls for it. [Laughs] Sometimes it’s a bit too much, but it’s fine. I think his communication helps a lot for our mid/jungle play as well. In general, us three moving around the map has been pretty good. That’s the core of our team, I would say.

I believe Chasy has also done a good job of expanding his champion pool. He’s more comfortable on stage now and doesn’t mind picking something like Fiora or Irelia. His communication is also a lot better. I think it’s just a matter of time until we reach our final form.

So, you do see continuous progress within the team in scrims et cetera?

Yeah. Each week, we focus on new points. We’re doing a good job with the point we focused on this week. Next week, we’ll focus on another point. As long as we keep working on those things, I think we will be one of the best teams.

Nisqy LEC MAD Lions 2023
Nisqy and Elyoya form a strong core for MAD Lions, but they have struggled in the Spring Split so far. (Source: Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

Slaying the G2 giant

Even though G2 has some goofy games every now and then, they still appear to be the ‘untouchable’ squad when they put their minds to it. From your perspective, are they really that far ahead?

It depends on their form, I think. Last split, it was really rough for us to go up against them because we played three days of best-of-fives in a row. G2 could just chill all week and they also had full information on our drafts. [Laughs] They had a bit of an advantage on that. Still, the third game of that series was kind of close and maybe we could have turned it around in other circumstances.

G2 has really strong players. They pair well together as well. But yes, Astralis beat them, and we’ll see if that was a fluke or not. I feel that, sometimes, G2 gets too creative. That’s how you punish them. They need to innovate. They need to play stuff that people don’t play against. If they play the standard game, they don’t feel as good either. They need to have really good level one plans and their bot lane needs to do really well. I think they live or die by their bot lane, most of the time.

“Sometimes, G2 gets too creative. That’s how you punish them. They need to innovate.”

Rounding up: Because of your Winter Split performance, you are still in a good position to qualify for MSI 2023 in London. If G2 wins this split as well, the second seed will be determined based on championship points and you’re ahead of the other teams with those. Given everything we talked about in terms of team hurdles and progress, where do you place your milestones?

For me, it’s about making the finals again. I don’t care who we face, but it’s probably G2 or Vitality at this point. I just want to be a top team again, like in last split. It would be disappointing to be third or fourth. We should be better than Vitality. We can be better than G2 in the long run, even though they are probably better right now

It’s important for me to make it to the finals because I think I’m one of the two top mid laners in the LEC. The only way of showing that, is by making it to the final.

MAD Lions plays its next game on Saturday, March 15th, at 9 PM CET against Fnatic. You can watch the game live on the official LoL Esports site.