FC Schalke 04 vs exceL
To start things off, we have what can rightfully be deemed as the least entertaining clash of the day. Heck, one could even argue that this might be the least entertaining clash of the week, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves -- there's still a reason to tune in, especially if you're into the many exquisite 2020 LEC narratives.
Excel Esports vs. Schalke 04 simply doesn't create hype in any way, shape, and form, and there's a very good reason why that's the case. Neither team was able to leave much of a mark throughout 2020 and were often ridiculed for being out of sync and out of tune with both the meta and the way the game should be played. At their best, they sometimes managed to upset teams that were ranked above them in the standings; at their worst, they looked like a bunch of solo queue scrubs -- players without any semblance of cohesion between them. Obviously, there's a fair bit of talent among these two line-ups, but it's either not mature enough and needs more time to grow and develop, or the vast majority of these players just aren't as good as they need to be in order to compete at the highest of levels.
Either way, the brand of League of Legends they play isn't particularly engaging, but it can be quite a fair bit entertaining -- especially if you're a fan of those well-patented skirmish-heavy fiestas.
On paper, we're talking about two teams that are relatively equal in terms of potential and strength. That said, how competitive Schalke 04 will be heavily depends on which of their players will get the nod and start on the day. If they go for their Neon and Dreams bottom lane combo, odds are, they won't be all that competitive. Their roster, overall, is a strange mishmash of players both old and new. Things aren't as dire as some might make them out to be, but this incarnation of Schalke 04 leaves a ton to be desired across the board. There's just nothing to be impressed with, and even when they do get on the same page they always make an egregious mistake (or two) in the mid and later stages of the game which allows the opposing team to capitalize and close things out. That's Schalke in a nutshell.
Their 2020 Spring Split hasn't been much different and it'll take an entirely different line-up for them to actually do something in the LEC. Excel Esports, while also underwhelming in their own unique right, at least have a couple of players who can do the heavy lifting -- most notably Patrik, Tore, and (at times) Caedrel. Make no mistake: they're as far from a top-tier behemoth as they can get, but their games so far have been much more competitive and they've actually managed to get a win on the board against SK Gaming. Now, this isn't the SK of old, but rather a 3W-2L challenger that holds wins over Misfits Gaming and Origen -- not too shabby for a team that was locked into ninth place last split. Excel Esports are mostly competitive throughout the game (barring any abysmal play from Kryze or Special), and when they funnel resources into Patrik, they can actually trade blows with teams many deem far superior.
In the end, we'll have to side with XL on this one, but it's far from an easy call. We're banking on their coaching staff (Youngbuck, primarily) and a couple of their seasoned veterans. That, in theory, should be more than enough for them to get the win, but it's going to be dicey, that's for sure.