Gen.G esports vs MAD Lions
This is where things get a lot more complicated. Now, on the one hand, Gen.G probably shouldn't be favored because, historically speaking, they always struggled against European teams that could push the tempo and challenge them early on. Gen.G likes to play things out by the book -- on their own terms and at their pace. Moreover, they haven't really adapted all that well to the meta and its hectic, skirmish-heavy nature. Or so we thought coming into 2021 Worlds.
The Gen.G we saw yesterday put on a clinic, and their play left no one indifferent. Bdd did do the grunt of the work, in all fairness, but the rest of the team delivered as well. It was an absolute masterclass from start to finish, and even though it *was* the de facto Gen.G game in terms of playstyle and cadence, they had still shown numerous adjustments and the willingness to go out of their comfort zone and engage early on. And, well, the fashion in which it all went down definitely made us all take notice. The fact that they beat LNG Esports to a pulp with such ease tells us one very important thing: Gen.G have been underappreciated and undervalued yet again, and they're fed up with it. Moreover, if they keep playing this darn well, they'll not only stand a chance of making it out of groups but they'll do so as the number one seed, too.
The MAD Lions, on the other hand, really didn't look that good. A few standout moments were by no means enough for them to stand a chance against Team Liquid who, to their credit, made very few mistakes and had executed their team comp to a tee. TL knew what they wanted to prioritize, and they played to their strengths, as was so often the case back on home soil. They deserve praise for their composure and presence of mind, and have no doubt made us question whether they, too, have been undervalued just because of the region from which they come from. We always knew they had a ton of potential just based on sheer talent and veterancy alone, but we're seeing vintage shades of TL here and we definitely liked what was on display yesterday.
Whether they'll be able to play at the same level against Gen.G, though, still remains to be seen. MAD Lions really didn't pressure much nor did they come out with any concrete threat. They were hesitant to "let go" and it hindered their chances from the very get-go. Gen.G probably won't have that kind of issue, and their win conditions are a lot more streamlined and obvious. Moreover, one could argue that there's a very noticeable overlap in terms of playstyle between these two teams — they both like to draft for late and focus on teamfighting. Gen.G, though, are probably better at this than the former LCS champions.
In the end, there's no surefire way of predicting who'll come out on top as we still don't have a big enough sample size for either team to fully assess their power level. We're leaning towards Gen.G, but it'll no doubt be a lot closer than most folks expect.