League of Legends European Championship team MAD Lions are in the process of finalizing deals with SuperMassive top laner İrfan “Armut” Berk Tükek and Movistar Riders jungler Javier “Elyoya” Prades to join their starting lineup for the 2021 season, league sources told ESPN.
MAD Lions’ negotiations with Armut were first reported by Turkish esports news sites Invade and Esporin. Neither deal can be officially completed prior to Nov. 16, the day that League of Legends free agency opens worldwide.
However, when signed, Armut and Elyoya will replace MAD Lions top laner Andrei “Orome” Popa and jungler Zhiqiang “Shad0w” Zhao on the MAD roster. Orome and Shad0w — whose contracts last through the end of the 2022 and 2021 seasons respectively — will become available on the buyout market for prospective teams, sources said.
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The news comes after MAD Lions failed to qualify for the group stages of the 2020 League of Legends World Championship, losing to SuperMassive in a knockout series 2-3. At that event Armut shined, despite SuperMassive also not qualifying out of the group stage, while both Orome and Shad0w struggled against the competition. MAD Lions is the only of the four worlds-qualifying teams not to make the group stage, after G2 Esports, Fnatic and Rogue auto-qualified in via the LEC playoffs.
In the 2020 season MAD Lions exceeded expectations, taking a roster of four young players in Orome, Shad0w, Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság and Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser — paired with mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda — to the world championship. Along the way MAD defeated G2 in a spring split playoff series and finished second in the summer regular season behind Rogue. For his effort, Shad0w was named the LEC All-Pro first-team jungler. In the playoffs and then at worlds, though, he failed to replicate that success.
In the amateur scene Elyoya had a star year on Movistar in the SuperLiga Orange Spanish European Regional League. Movistar took first domestically, earning themselves a spot at the 2020 European Masters Summer main event. There, the team took 9th-11th, a much lower result than predicted by many analysts.
MAD is also looking to tool up their coaching staff in the offseason following the departure of Peter Dun, who has worked for the organization, previously known as Splyce, since Oct. 2017. In an interview with ESPN, Dun said he was looking to coach abroad, including potential gigs in North America. MAD still has head coach James “Mac” MacCormack and assistant coach Christophe “Kaas” van Oudheusden on payroll.
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