Team Liquid vs MAD Lions
This, in short, is the one match-up all Western fans across the globe will tune in to, eager as ever to see which region will come out on top. Historically speaking, the LEC champions should definitely be a cut above, but one can never be too certain seeing how they'll compete in the Best of 1 format — a fertile ground that allows for the biggest upsets to happen.
The whole West, it feels like, is hoping that MAD will upset the long-established status quo. They're the number one team from Europe, which means they should definitely be able to compete at the highest of levels with the many LPL and LCK giants that have booked their tickets to Reykjavik, Iceland. Whether they'll win or not still remains to be seen, but they're not to be trifled with, that's for sure. Their performance at this year's Mid-Season Invitational was absolutely stellar, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll dominate on the Worlds stage as well. Simply put: the meta's different, and so are their opponents. Every tournament is a story in itself, and the fact that MAD impressed us more than half a year ago means nothing in the grand scheme of things — other than the fact that they have it in them to rub shoulders with the best teams in the world. Whether they'll harness that potential and deliver once more is anyone's guess, but we'd be remiss if we didn't say that they'll face an uphill battle going forward.
They haven't been slotted in the hardest of groups, so at least they have a shot at making it out and leaving a mark, but they'll have to fight for that luxury, no doubt. Gen.G, LNG Esports, and Team Liquid are all highly capable (to say the least), and MAD cannot afford to drop more than just a handful of games. They want to rack up as many wins as possible over the "easier" opponents like Team Liquid so that they can create a buffer of sorts, should LNG and Gen.G prove more capable than expected.
So, in other words, they're bound to tryhard as they know this one game could end up being the difference-maker. And the same goes for Team Liquid — they're well aware that they're the underdogs and will surely try their hardest to upend the status quo. Although, in all fairness, they probably won't leave much of a mark once all is said and done, if their historical track record is anything to go by.
In any case, we simply have to side with the MAD Lions on this one. They might not have Liquid's experience, but they more than make up for in terms of sheer creativity and bravado — two virtues that are far more important in today's meta. They're incredibly aggressive, in sync, and have more than enough mechanical prowess to go through with nearly any kind of plan or strategy — a fairly rare strength that will no doubt give them an edge over their North American adversaries.
With all of that said, Team Liquid deserve our respect as they have more than enough power and potential to contest for a spot near the very top of their group. They're probably not going to make it out, but they'll no doubt put up a far greater fight than most folks expect!