MAD Lions’ Mac sees LEC playoffs as “in our fingers to win or lose”


We caught up with three-time LEC Coach of the Break up James ‘Mac’ MacCormack to know his teaching philosophy and the way MAD Lions bounced again from a disastrous Spring break up. 

MAD Lion’s failure to qualify for the LEC Spring break up playoffs was one of many greatest surprises of the primary half of the 12 months. Lauded as one of many best-run groups within the area, well-known for his or her capability to scout younger expertise from the ERLs, MAD Lions had by no means didn’t qualify for the playoffs till then. 

That Spring failure was a blip on MAD’s radar. It pressured them to refocus, take a step again and actually take a look at what was essential to their roster. They got here again in Summer time with a renewed fireplace and certified for the playoffs’ higher bracket regardless of not having earned a single championship level within the Spring.

MAD Lions, who completed second within the common season standings with the identical report as G2 Esports, additionally noticed their teaching employees acknowledged as one of the best of the break up, and 4 of their gamers appeared on the LEC’s first All-pro group.

One break up, and a universally praised roster swap on, the group are headed to the playoffs, off the again of what Mac describes as a “draining” remaining few weeks of the season.

He defined that the group can be taking 4 days off between the common season and the playoffs. Whereas not each participant requires common breaks from competing to maintain themselves sharp, Mac defined that point off provides the group an opportunity to “step again”. 

“If you’re scrimming each day for eight weeks as a part of a group, you’re very near all the problems you will have as a group, and also you’re very a lot inside all the issues you could have,” he advised Dexerto. “Having a couple of days’ break means that you can take a step again and really assess issues with a bit extra of a impartial perspective so you may come again ready to work out some options.” 

He did, nonetheless, admit that breaks weren’t essentially adhered to by all members of the roster. 

“I strongly suspect that our AD Carry (William ‘Unforgiven’ Neimenen) and help (Norman ‘Kaiser’ Kaiser) are simply enjoying both solo queue or ARAMs in the intervening time.” 

The comeback

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A disastrous Spring has become a hopeful Summer time for MAD.

MAD’s Spring failure is a factor of the previous — nevertheless it helped inspire the roster within the Summer time break up in a manner that Mac couldn’t have predicted. The group had by no means actually failed on this manner earlier than, having made the playoffs each single break up since coming into league in 2020. 

“The shortage of championship factors meant we needed to get first or second to be seeded prime 4, which was fairly a giant ask,” he stated. “So these previous couple of weeks, we’ve simply been grinding actually, actually exhausting as a result of consistency was so essential.”

MAD had been one of many solely groups coming into Summer time playoffs competition with no championship factors. That they had no fallback, no security web — however the Spring disappointment had introduced the group even nearer collectively, and made them take a tough take a look at their group play coming into Summer time. 

“I feel it was clear that we hadn’t been… I suppose the phrase I might use is ‘wholesome’,” he stated. “We hadn’t been united and on the identical web page as a group, and I feel all of us understood that that was what had damage us essentially the most. Our group preventing was actually unhealthy, which is one thing I ought to have addressed earlier and realized manner too late. 

“All our offseason conversations had been about how one can repair that drawback. How can we get on the identical web page as a group? How do we’ve the identical method towards the sport? How do we’ve the identical philosophy? How can we recover from our distinction in opinion on how one can play?” 

Constructing a group is greater than only a numbers recreation

MAD Lions MacWojciech Wandzel/Riot Video games

Mac’s at all times had a robust rapport together with his gamers – he defined that it’s one of the crucial essential facets of his private teaching philosophy.

This cohesion and shared philosophy is among the most essential cornerstones of Mac’s teaching philosophy — the selfsame teaching philosophy that had already landed him two Coach of the Break up awards in 2020.

He defined how he’s at all times seen his teaching philosophy as an extension of himself. Rather more than any drafting trivia or pixel-perfect goal management, Mac has at all times been extra involved with the folks on his groups. It’s one thing he has at all times targeted on when constructing rosters — tradition match for the MAD Lions group is simply as essential as good mechanics and decision-making abilities. 

“Folks and gamers aren’t like High Trump playing cards, the place you will have a 9 out of ten on laning section, a ten out of ten on CSD at ten minutes, and a 5 out of ten on group preventing,” he defined. “That’s not the way you construct a group, and that’s by no means how I’ve constructed groups for myself.

“I feel a part of my very own private philosophy as a coach is that I actually worth a way of belonging and togetherness contained in the group. It’s actually, actually essential to me that everybody on the group looks like they belong there — I feel you create the strongest groups that manner.” 

MAD Lions have at all times been well-known for an externally sturdy group rapport. Everybody remembers their winners’ poses at first of the LEC’s distant play interval — they usually’ve at all times appeared like a group who’ve gotten alongside nicely each on and off the rift, throughout a number of iterations of the roster. 

Studying to be adaptable

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Mac’s approaching his third 12 months teaching within the LEC, however he’s nonetheless studying from each break up.

When requested what his greatest studying has been from 2022, Mac was fast to reply. 

“Greater than something, I’ve realized to be as open-minded as doable,” he famous. “It’s really easy to change into dogmatic — to imagine that issues which have labored up to now will work the identical sooner or later. And that’s simply not how competitors, and extra particularly competitors in League of Legends, works.” 

In Summer time 2022 alone, we’ve seen basic modifications to dragons – which in flip led to an enormous shift in how professionals needed to method the mid and late recreation. Sadly, it’s within the nature of a live-service recreation to alter, and ceaselessly, and that’s not one thing a coach can management. 

Not solely did MAD need to cope with the dragon modifications in Summer time, however they needed to deal with the arrival of a brand new participant. Yasin ‘Nisqy’ Dinçer has been instrumental in turning MAD’s spring fortunes round and is at the moment one of many gamers tipped as frontrunners for the MVP of the break up award.

However integrating a brand new participant just isn’t fairly really easy as seeing prompt change. “Each time you modify one participant on a roster,” Mac defined, “it’s a brand new group and also you’re ranging from zero.” 

“I feel Spring was reminder of that, and I feel Summer time is an efficient reminder of what I discussed earlier than — that having a group the place everybody looks like they match is way more essential than having a group stuffed with ‘good’ gamers.”

“I consider much less and fewer these days in gamers being good or unhealthy. Having a binary understanding of a participant’s ability and worth is simply not helpful, and never an correct predictor of whether or not or not a group will succeed. I imply, simply take a look at Vitality.” 

League is a recreation that has usually mentioned in binary phrases. ‘X’ champion is sweet, ‘Y’ champion is unhealthy — when in actuality, it’s a recreation that’s constructed nearly totally on nuance. Mac has come to know that greater than ever this 12 months, and he says that altering his ‘good, unhealthy, sure, no methods of pondering’ has been a precedence all through the Summer time break up. 

“I’m making an attempt to be as open-minded and have as a lot nuance as I probably can, as a result of I feel that’s the way you make good choices,” he stated. “Not by counting on narrative, or stats, though these are each essential. Stats paint an image, however decision-making is about the way you interpret that image as a complete.” 

Matching up in opposition to Rogue

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Rogue are solely the primary hurdle standing between MAD and the LEC finals, however they’re an essential one.

For MAD Lions, attending to the playoffs is simply half the battle. 

Their subsequent hurdle shall be overcoming Rogue, who await them within the first spherical of the playoffs on August 26. They’ve misplaced solely a single BO5 to Rogue all through their LEC tenure, however Mac is, in his personal phrases, not “naive” sufficient to imagine it’s a free collection. 

“I’m not vastly involved in regards to the matchup, however clearly I do know Rogue are a terrific opponent and I feel they deserve a variety of credit score” he stated. “Even when they’ve had their playoff struggles, I don’t wish to depend on assuming they’ll at all times be unhealthy within the playoffs. That’d be a extremely naive method to take, contemplating all the teachings I’ve realized this 12 months.”

Even when they do beat Rogue, the LEC playoffs are grueling. Winner’s bracket security web apart, MAD may have one hell of a process on their fingers to qualify for Worlds and to make it to the LEC finals. 

However Mac is making an attempt to mood expectations as greatest as he can, explaining that as a result of MAD’s teaching employees has a number of members, there are a variety of issues that aren’t straight underneath his management. 

MAD have 5 members of their teaching employees (who had been all recipients of the teaching employees of the break up award). Whereas that does imply MAD’s teaching system is extremely thorough, it additionally introduces a major variety of variables that may’t at all times be accounted for when setting expectations based mostly on earlier outcomes. 

“My job is to be sure that we’re ready – that we’re comfortable, wholesome, have meta learn, and that we’re going into the collection with the fitting mindset. If our apply is sweet and we handle to do all of that, then we’ll win. If it’s not adequate, then we received’t. 

“Are we adequate to be Summer time champions? I feel so. But it surely’s in our fingers to win it or lose it, and we’re able to doing both.”

Replace: This text has been edited to take away inaccurate details about championship factors.


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