MAD Lions vs Team Liquid
This one's for "all the marbles" -- an EU vs. NA match-up that's bound to deliver in all the right ways! Plus, there's a whole lot more on the line other than just regional pride: both teams will need to win this one to stand a chance at making it out of groups. Needless to say, the pressure is starting to mount and the margin for error is so slim we might as well consider it non-existent.
The first time these two teams faced off, it was Team Liquid who got their hands raised. And that, in short, came as quite a momentous surprise. Still, it was evident that MAD Lions needed a bit of time to acclimate to the Worlds stage -- quite natural given their inexperience. Moreover, their read on the meta wasn't all that good at the time, which also hindered their chances of finding success against the former four-time LCS champs. The fact that they put Armut on Jax -- despite the fact that he hadn't played the champion even once throughout 2021 -- meant that either their priorities weren't straight (draft-wise) or that they had grossly underestimated what Team Liquid could do.
Either way, it is a mistake they don't plan on repeating and, fortunately, it's an easy one to fix.
What'll happen this time around is anyone's guess. The LEC champions are favored odds-wise, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll get the "W." Plus, with the many upsets we've just witnessed, making any sort of confident prediction feels nigh impossible. Still, if things pan out as expected, MAD should definitely be able to correct course and avenge their loss to Team Liquid. It probably won't be as dominant or one-sided as we initially believed coming into 2021 Worlds, so definitely temper your expectations -- TL is far from a pushover.
The fact that they're tied in the standings will also complicate things even further; they both have a shot, and just a single mistake could end up being the difference between reaching the quarterfinals and booking a flight back home. Moreover, team morale and overall resilience will no doubt be affected by their previous matches: MAD Lions are scheduled to face Gen.G, with Team Liquid going up against LNG Esports, the one team that thoroughly outclassed them just a few days ago. It's all about momentum at this point of the tournament, and it's no secret that MAD Lions have more of it. Now all that's left for them to do is to fully harness it and inch ever closer towards the next stage of the World Championship.