FC Schalke 04 vs MAD Lions
The seventh week of the 2021 LEC regular season is here and, needless to say, it's quite an important one. The playoffs are right around the corner and, if things pan out as expected, we should be in for one heck of a ride. Right now, at this point, each and every single game matters immensely. Heck, we're putting it mildly here. A single game can be the difference between reaching the playoffs and waiting things out on the sidelines. And with so many teams being clumped up together in the standings, no one can afford the luxury of dropping games, especially not against their direct competitors.
The time for experimentation is over — now it's all about delivering and executing at the highest of levels. There's no more room for error, which doesn't mean teams won't make mistakes, unfortunately. The situation over at the LEC is starting to subdue, and it's become quite easy to assess who's good and why. Upsets are still bound to happen, but nowhere near as often as it was the case back at the start of the split. Right now, the playoff picture is pretty much set in stone, barring any mind-blowing twist.
There is one question mark left, however, and it pertains to the sixth and very last playoff spot. Excel Esports, Misfits Gaming, and Schalke 04 are all tied for sixth with five wins and eight losses each. Now, in all fairness, their records aren't all that impressive, but they have a shot regardless, especially if they clean up their play and deliver once it matters most. Saying who's the best out of all three teams is pretty much impossible at this point in time — it tends to shift and change on a weekly basis. Misfits, for instance, have just strung two wins in a row, against both XL and Schalke, so it stands to reason that they're the best of the bunch, but a single win in the Best of 1 format isn't all that impressive of an achievement. Be that as it may, they're all clumped up together and there's a good reason why.
They're painfully inconsistent, hugely volatile, and there's very little cohesion between their player as well. They're all out of sync, engaging on their own terms and making egregious mistakes every step of the way. Back when the split first began, Misfits definitely stood out in all the right ways, but have -- for reasons that still elude us -- dropped off considerably.
Schalke 04, on the other hand, are on a six-game losing streak. That wasn't a typo. Remember that mind-blowing -- and logic-defying -- win streak at the start of the split? Well, now we know that it was just a one-off thing, rather than a sign of the things to come. No matter what Schalke try to do, it's as if they just can't get off the ground. And it's not tied to whom they're up against either. By the looks of it, they're pretty much the worst team in the region, and that's saying something. Now sure, they can still pack a punch and trade heavy blows from time to time, but these instances are few and far between. And, which is worse, they're becoming even more infrequent as time goes on. They fell off a cliff, and it seems as though there's no turning back.
To make matters even worse, they're scheduled to face MAD Lions on Friday -- one of the best and most capable teams that Europe has to offer. They're not perfect either, but if their recent play is any indication, it's fair to say that they're more than capable of challenging for the LEC throne. Schalke, on the other hand, are nowhere near such a prestigious status. And, frankly, it's a bit too late for them to correct course and actually leave a mark. The grunt of the split is now behind us, and there are simply far too many issues over at the Schalke camp for them to actually mount a comeback.
MAD Lions are flawed. We all know that, but they're also quite talented and more than capable of throwing down with the best teams the LEC has to offer. They're not ready to challenge for a spot at the very top, but they're darn good regardless and could, in time, make a case for Top 3. They are without a doubt better than Schalke and should, by all means, be able to get the win in relatively one-sided fashion.