MAD Lions vs FC Schalke 04
MAD Lions vs. Schalke 04. Had someone told you that this would be the most exciting Best of 5 during a weekend when G2 and Fnatic would also square off, you’d probably laugh them out of the room, and with good reason. How the heck could a fight between a top-tier team and a bottom-tier dweller be so darn exciting? What’s the catch? Well, frankly speaking, this is such an unexpected development that no one’s really prepared. It defies all logic and reason, and yet here we are, on the brink of one of the most mind-blowing and historic Best of 5s in recent LEC hsitory.
Before we delve any deeper into the match-up itself, let’s focus on each team independently. MAD Lions’ 2020 season has been quite a rollercoaster, but not in the best possible sense. After leaving a mark last Spring, they’ve entered Summer looking for a repeat. And, for a long while, it seemed as though they were destined for one too, until, that is, the second half of the split came along. They were so darn good and in sync for what seemed like an eternity, that the moment they started deterriorating, it looked all the more dramatic. They’re not entering this Best of 5 with much hype or momentum. In fact, perhaps that’s even an understatement. They’re the team with the least hype out of all that are left competing. Let that one sink in. They’ve been in sole possession of first place throughout the entirety of the second half of the regular season, and yet here they are, ranked near the very bottom hype-wise. But why is that? Well, frankly, they were outclassed and demolished by G2 Esports in 1-3 fashion last week, and before that, they were barely able to secure a playoff bye seeing how they won just a single game out of their last four. For all intents and purposes, MAD Lions are not a good team right now, despite what their record might say, and despite whom they have competing under their banner. They’re good, if not even great, but that means very little if they aren’t performing on the day, if their drafts aren’t good and up to date, and if their synergy isn’t there. And, frankly, it wasn’t when it mattered the most. They lost to G2, but also to Rogue in their final head-to-head clash in the very last week of the regular season. To make matters even more interesting, they lost to Schalke 04 as well, so, really, there’s no obvious reason to give them our benefit of the doubt. They might deserve it in general, but it there’s a very real chance that they’ll miss out on Worlds.
For the MAD Lions, it’s do or die. If they lose, they won’t go to Worlds. It’s as simple as that. If they win, however, they’ll represent Europe at the biggest of stages. How’s that for pressure? Absolutely insane, and it’ll all go down to the wire. Opposite them stands a team that no one really understands. That’s the biggest problem — they’re impossible to read at this point in time. Schalke 04 are doing things by the book. They don’t employ strange drafts, early level one invades, or any such stuff. Instead, they just play exceptional League of Legends. Nothing more, nothing less. They do what they have to and when they have to, and these two elements allow them to not only generate a lead but also close things out in relatively clean fashion. Add to that their individual prowess, stellar laning, and pristine positioning, and you get a strangely competitive team that has all the right tools to dominate and get the win.
With two seasoned veterans who’ve been playing for what feels like a decade and three semi-rookies that are hungry for the spotlight, Schalke are poised to impress. Frankly, you’d never guess it judging solely by their starting line-up, but their play would quickly dispell any kind of skepticism. And that’s rare. This is arguably the first time in LEC history that a bottom-tier team (that previously had a 1W-10L record) is generally considered as one of the best teams in the region. That simply defies reason, and yet here we are, with Schalke actually being favored by many analysts to get the win and represent Europe at the biggest of stages come October. The way they’ve dismantled SK Gaming tells us they mean business, and the fact that they’re now playing in the Best of 5 format in no way diminishes their prowess and hunger to win and complete their miracle run. Heck, they’re arguably better than Fnatic at this point in time, although we’ll still have to wait a bit before we get to see that scenario unfold.
So, who’s the favorite? If we judge solely by the odds, that would be the MAD Lions, but barely so. They just haven’t done enough lately to warrant anyone’s trust, and that’s painful to say or write. They’ve been one of the most exciting teams in the LEC over the last eight whole months, and the fact that they’re fumbling this late into the season is a crushing sight. They deserve a better ending to the season, and a better narrative after all they’ve accomplished, and after the many mind-blowing games they’ve given us. They’re worthy of the Worlds stage, but it just doesn’t feel like they’ll be able to lock down a ticket to Worlds and actually compete against the best teams the world of competitive League has to offer. That’s depressing, but at least they’ll have a shot to prove their worth fair and square. If they can’t get through this incarnation of Schalke 04, then there’s no way they could accomplish anything in China either, so there’s a sort of balance at play.
We’re going to side with the underdogs on this one, but it’s not going to be easy nor one-sided. Both teams have what it takes to get the win, and with so much on the line, they’re bound to fight for every inch of the Summoner’s Rift from the moment they spawn. The pressure is mounting, and the team that that wins three games tonight will make their 2020 season count. The one that fails will pack their bags, go home, and watch the spectacle unfold from afar. What an incredible (and quite important) Best of 5. It’s unnerving, really, but in the best possible sense. Regardless of whom eventaully triumphs, expect a clash worthy of the history books.
|FC Schalke 04||2.17||2||Loss|