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Kaiser: “With our aggression, we can surprise RNG and DWG KIA”

Tom Matthiesen

MAD Lions and their support player Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser came out of the gate swinging on the first day of the MSI 2021 Rumble Stage. Both Pentanet.GG and Cloud9 were comfortably defeated, with the second game resulting in a relentless stomp. Overall, the team has improved a lot compared to their Group Stage games, which were nail-biters more often than expected. Still, MAD Lions have two tournament favorites to face: DWG KIA and RNG are waiting to test MAD Lions’ limits.


MAD Lions kicked off the Rumble Stage with two comfortable victories, but RNG and DWG KIA are up next. (Image courtesy of Riot Games.)

After the win against Cloud9, Kaiser joined us for an interview. He spoke about the games he played, and how his team used their few days off to reset and focus on fixing their mistakes. Kaiser also was happy to talk about the true love he discovered at the Mid-Season Invitational: Icelandic tap water.

Hotspawn: Congratulations on a 2-0 opening day, Kaiser. Heading into the day, after MAD Lions’ performance in the Group Stage, not everybody was as confident in how you would perform in the Rumble Stage. But I guess you’ve taken away a lot of the doubt!

Kaiser: I mean, today we had an easier day, I guess. We played against two wildcard regions—

Hotspawn: [Laughs] Oh god…

Kaiser: [Laughs] You have to take some jabs at Cloud9, right? Especially if you win against them. But I think Cloud9 as an opponent is obviously really strong. They had some struggles in the early game, which is why we could snowball this game really cleanly. I think we also had a pretty good draft against them. We were really happy with what we got. We all got a champion we’re comfortable with.

Cloud9 tried something in their draft with the Kindred mid lane. We kind of expected it as well, to be honest. But yeah, I think we can be really happy with our performance today. We had two games that were not really ever out of our control. We still have to show more before fans can be certain that we’re a really good team. We still have to show that we can beat Damwon and RNG, who are the tournament favorites, but yeah, I think we can be really happy with today.

Hotspawn: I think you definitely can be happy indeed. Let’s go back a few days, to after you guys finished the Group Stage. Did you take any time off, or was it straight to the drawing board to draft a plan for the Rumble Stage?

Kaiser: We had a day where some people went to a lagoon or something like that, to go swimming. We were planning to go to a volcano as well, but sadly that fell through. But yeah we did some sightseeing for sure. Of course, Iceland as a country is super nature-heavy. I really like that in a country. I come from a really rural place in Germany, I guess, which is full of trees. There is a lot of forests there. Iceland is definitely my style as well.

In terms of our gameplay: there were obviously flaws in my gameplay what we saw. For example, when it comes to the mid-game and the late-game. I would say that our early game was usually pretty clean. Of course, we had some minor hiccups in level ones. [Laughs] But I think we identified what we had to do better, and we fixed our problems. Right now we have cleaned up our mid-game and late-game, and we know what to do when we’re ahead. I think you could see today that we didn’t really have any of those ‘happy moments’, you know? We did die a few times, of course, like when we were diving the mid-lane tier 3 turrets. But that’s just our style, I guess. We just have to int sometimes. [Laughs] We still made sure to play cleanly, that we got the Ocean Soul, that we got the Baron… It just makes me really happy. We played it out pretty cleanly.

Hotspawn: In the Cloud9 game today especially, we saw you play very aggressively and confidently. However, in the LEC this year, MAD Lions often did not have as aggressive of an early game as you had last year. Is that something you had to gradually allow yourself to do again?

Kaiser: Not really, I would say. In the LEC we maybe had some shaky early games, which is why we couldn’t play as aggressively. But we still play really aggressively in team fights, for example. We always look for these opportunities, these snap engages that catch people off guard. I think that’s we are known for. You can see that even in the early game. We are not hesitant to just Flash onto people when they least expect it, or take every single 3v3 fight or 2v2 fight that is presenting itself to us.

I don’t think we really changed going into international competition. I think especially the Worlds experience from last year kind of helped us with that. Last year’s Worlds, we didn’t really play aggressively. We were playing kind of scared. Marek [Humanoid] already had a bit of experience under his belt, but Carzzy and I especially, we learned a lot from that. We just play more aggressively. Armut has more experience as well because he has played at Worlds before. And Elyoya… he just doesn’t care. He is just unfazed by this stage. He just plays like he would in scrims. He says “go, go, go!”, plays aggressively, and I really like our team composition in that regard.

Hotspawn: Looking at the upcoming days, you still have teams such as RNG and DWG KIA to go, and that’s just the first half of the Double Round Robin. How are you looking at those two opponents, now that you’ve polished your gameplay compared to the Group Stage?

Kaiser: So, I think that RNG is just looking way stronger than DWG KIA. Damwon, while they have really good players, I think some of their players are just randomly inting sometimes. I think Canyon is making uncharacteristic mistakes. He sometimes got caught out at objectives. BeryL as well, as you saw today. They were in a commanding lead but then Canyon gets caught once and BeryL gets caught like three times in a row. Somehow Ghost was at like 3-0 [against PSG Talon], and he 1v9’ed the game. Maybe if they can fix these small mistakes, which are actually pretty easy to fix, then they might be stronger than RNG. But until then, until they show respect and play normal, I guess, RNG just looks way cleaner and way stronger.

RNG isn’t unbeatable. You saw that in their game versus Cloud9 as well. They kind of threw and it was really close. I don’t think that either team is unbeatable. Both teams look like they have holes in their gameplay, and we as MAD Lions know how to get into these holes and break through their wall. With our aggression, we can surprise RNG and DWG KIA for sure.

Hotspawn: As a final topic, I want to take a step away from the competition. I’ve heard multiple times now that you are really passionate about the tap water in Iceland. You even changed your in-game name to “tapwater enjoyer”. [Laughs] What the hell is so special about Icelandic tap water?!

Kaiser: [Laughs] I’m not sure! It’s just… I just fell in love at first taste. It’s super cold, it’s super clear. There is nothing that hinders your taste experience. I’m not sure how to say it exactly.

Hotspawn: [Laughs] It’s very pure.

Kaiser: Yeah, exactly. The tap water in Berlin is not bad, right? It’s drinkable and it’s fine. But it’s just a world of difference here. It’s just crazy, actually. It just blew my mind and I had to rename my account. I’m starting a fan club here for this tap water, I think. I’m bringing like ten bottles home with me, when I leave. [Laughs]

Hotspawn: Screw the trophy, you’re taking tap water home.

Kaiser: Exactly! [Laughs]

Hotspawn: Well it’s good to hear that you are enjoying Iceland so much. To round up: you’ve instilled confidence in many Europeans’ hearts today by going 2-0. Is there something you’d like to say to them?

Kaiser: Obviously just a big thank you that you guys are still supporting us. Even after last Worlds, you guys just kept supporting us so much. Even if we were losing against Brazil or losing against any other team, you still stand behind us and have faith in us. It just helps us a lot. It gives us so much confidence. It gives us confidence that we can still play aggressively and that we will not be flamed by our community for it. You guys still have faith in us, and that’s really nice to have. So a big thank you, again.

MAD Lions plays their next game in the Rumble Stage against Royal Never Give Up on Saturday, May 15th, at 5 PM CEST. You can watch it live on the offical LoL Esports site.