The first round of LEC 2020 Summer playoffs is here and even though the opening day will serve us with a Losers’ Bracket clash featuring two weaker sides, it’s hard not to be excited about the fixture.
Schalke 04 are entering the LEC 2020 Playoffs as a team everyone is talking about and rightfully so. If you manage such an impressive miracle run as they did – going from 1-10 midway through the split to a 8-10 while beating the likes of G2, Misfits, Fnatic and MAD Lions – you deserve some praise.
Now the most important question we have to ask ourselves is: are Schalke 04 really that good, or was their all-or-nothing mentality the main factor that contributed to their impressive performances in the latter stages of the split? It’s difficult to say, as there is no denying that playing with nothing to lose had its effect on the team, but at the same time, it’s also not fair to undervalue the performances of their players.
Schalke 04’s mid laner Felix “Abbedagge” Braun has been playing exceptionally well as of late and the same can be said for Erberk “Gilius” Demir, who looked like the best jungler in the LEC throughout the last couple of competitive weeks.
That, however, is not to say the rest of the team underperformed. On the contrary, ADC Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík and support Han “Dreams” Min-kook both looked very solid and Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu held his own in the top lane, so it’s fair to say this team is very good all round. Nevertheless, the main win conditions are still Abbedagge and Gillius.
What made Schalke 04 so potent in the latter stages of the LEC was not only their controlled playstyle and surprisingly solid drafts, but also their aggressive approach to the game. Even when there were games where Schalke 04 found themselves behind, they did not hesitate to take any fight they could.
That is quite uncharacteristic for the European LoL scene, where most of the teams that are behind patiently look for openings and do their best to scale if their composition allows it – but not Schalke. Their approach to games, as unusual as it may be, is also a strong weapon, since it can surprise many teams.
Standing on the other side of the Rift this Friday will be SK Gaming, who are a team many people slept on this split, but they proved just how potent they can be. Even though it’s fair to say that SK made it to the playoffs in most part due to the struggles of Misfits and OG, there is no denying they played well enough to now have a shot at securing a ticket leading to Worlds.
Similarly to Schalke 04, SK have a very solid mid laner in Andrei “Zazee” Pascu, however, unlike their German adversaries, SK’s second key player is ADC Juš “Crowhsnot” Marušič.
To say the mid-ADC duo helped to lead SK to the playoffs would be an understatement since they singlehandedly won their team countless games. That, however, has proven to be a double-edged sword, considering that in games where ZaZee and Crownshot failed to deliver, SK usually lost. It’s also worth noting that SK are a well-coached team and usually come out with strong drafts, which could potentially make them a worthy opponent for Schalke 04.
I won’t go into too much stats here, because they’re in most part skewed, considering Schalke 04 have been playing much better in the latter stages of the split compared to what they have shown in the opening weeks of LEC 2020 Summer.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Schalke 04’s macro play has improved significantly and the same goes for their objective control. The biggest weapon this team has, however, is their ability to play from behind, which is something not many European teams are capable of – at least not with such a high success rate.
The key to success for Schalke 04 here will be to play around the bottom lane just so they can deny Crownshot from getting too far ahead and taking over the bottom side of the map – effectively giving SK drake control.
But at the end of the day, the main win condition for Schalke 04 is to play the same way they did up to now, which may sound like a boring statement, but the reality is that Schalke 04 have been very good in playing like a solid unit. The only real concern I have with Schalke 04 is whether they will manage to keep their momentum alive.
As mentioned before, Schalke 04 looked very good throughout the regular season, where they had nothing to lose. Now, however, they have everything to lose, which begs the question of how will the added pressure affect the players. Nevertheless, I am not going to doubt the numbers just based on “what if” and will instead trust Schalke 04 to keep playing at the same pace, which should earn them a 3-0 or 3-1 win.
Prediction: Schalke 04 -1.5 maps – 2.01 at Pinnacle