After convincingly crushing the European Challenger Series, Schalke 04’s eSports division seemed destined to rejoin the ranks of the EU’s best League of Legends players in the LCS. Yet at the final hurdle, the team’s decisive playoff final vs Misfits Academy, Schalke’s impervious dominance over the Challenger scene collapsed. S04 fell to MFA 3-1 in the playoffs final, blowing their chance at a Summer Split in the EU LCS… much to the apparent delight of their rivals in the CS scene.
To describe Schalke 04 eSports as a favourite to gain promotion from the European Challenger Series perhaps doesn’t do justice to their level of dominance over the league. The roster enjoyed an unbeaten season, convincingly sweeping aside each and every opponent that lay in their path towards the EU LCS.
Victory over Misfits in the playoff final, for a shot at Origen and the other LCS strugglers, seemed a formality, indeed the S04 were seemingly treating it as such. Perhaps with a air of complacency, Schalke looked entirely out of sorts for the most important series of their season; defeat now dooms the inarguably LCS-worthy roster of yet another season in the Challenger scene. The earliest Schalke 04 eSports can now step on to the EU LCS stage will be 2018.
It was no secret that Schalke 04 felt confident in their chances of promotion. With a line-up featuring a potent combination of highly tipped European prodigies and seasoned veterans, such as former World Championship semi-finalist Oskar “Vander” Bogdan, each member of the roster boasted remarkable statistics in the regular season.
From the Support position, Vander posted the highest KDA statistics in the league, remarkably dying just eight times in the regular season with a mind-boggling ratio of 14.4. Mid laner Marcin “SELFIE” Wolski and AD Carry Elias “Upset” Lipp similarly stamped their mark on the challenger scene with astonishing records.
After quickly establishing themselves as the top dog in the league, the Schalke 04 roster certainly weren’t shy in expressing their views of the competition around them, a strategy that was even endorsed by the team’s management:
— S04 Veteran (@VeteranEU) 5 March 2017
Schalke’s players were social media deviants throughout the majority of the split, a trait enjoyed by their fans and the wider community… though perhaps not so well received by their fellow professional competitors:
how can you get outjungled honestly
— loulex (@loulexd) 5 March 2017
I cant focus when enemies are too bad
— Vander (@VanderLCS) 4 March 2017
Doctor @EliayLipp, our next operation is on 19.03.
Patient: Challenger Series
Diagnosis: Too much trash
— Vander (@VanderLCS) 14 March 2017
In my pathing nirvana there is no suffering, nor sense of self, u just get outpathed and there is nothing u can do about it
— loulex (@loulexd) 20 February 2017
I am new Rekkles. Just more handsome and not passive in lane
— Upset (@EliayLipp) 8 February 2017
I love smurfing in Challenger Series
— Vander (@VanderLCS) 19 February 2017
The team’s schadenfreude throughout the split certainly came back to bite them after the devastating defeat to Misfits Academy. A number of the players trash talked by members of the Schalke roster flooded on to social media following the shock result, rubbing salt in wounds to provide the ‘cocky’ roster with a taste of their own medicine:
sad for schalke organisation, but damn it feels good to see upset lose. cocky disrespectful kid, karma is real
— Erik van Helvert (@TabzzLoL) 19 March 2017
@G2Perkz maybe you didn’t see he started shit by posting videos laughing at my gameplay without provocation?
— Erik van Helvert (@TabzzLoL) 20 March 2017
Doctor @EliayLipp, our next operation is on 20.03
Diagnosis: Outjungled by a 12 year old rengar one trick
— Marcus (@Blumigan) 19 March 2017
I hate it when you are smurfing, you get to play your Bo5 promos and then you lose, hate when that happens.
— Mateusz Szkudlarek (@Kikis1205) 19 March 2017
In addition to some spicy retweets, the following of which was retweeted by a number of Challenger pros, including Fnatic Academy Top laner, Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek:
— Upset (@EliayLipp) 5 February 2017
Trash-talking certainly has a place within competitive League of Legends, but players who opt-in when they’re at the top of their game should expect to receive the back swing when results go against them, as they have done in dramatic fashion for the Schalke 04 roster.