Origen vs FC Schalke 04
For our last match of the day, we have an exceptionally interesting clash between two playoff-worthy teams -- Origen, and Schalke 04. Now, both these teams have reached the upper echelon of the LEC at one point or another throughout the Spring Split, but they're currently sitting at completely opposite ends of the spectrum.
Schalke, as an example, started swinging right off the bat. Once the LEC began, other than G2 Esports, the only team that looked downright frightening was Schalke. They had the mechanical prowess, the immense experience, talent, leadership, shotcalling, early, mid, AND late game insurance, and a pretty deep and versatile champion pool. What's not to like? Soon enough, they rose to prominence and were -- at one point -- sitting comfortably at second place with sevens wins and two losses. A stellar record worthy of the highest praise regardless of the way you look at things.
But then the meta shifted -- it wasn't a seismic shift by any means, but it was a noticeable one. You could see the slight difference, and the players felt it too. But that wasn't the biggest problem. A month or so into the split, Schalke's strengths weren't as strong and visible. They didn't exactly regress (not by that much, at least), so what happened really? Other teams started adapting, and they started synergizing. Once all of a sudden, what Schalke did right a couple of weeks back was no longer that exceptional -- everyone was doing it. They no longer had an upper hand over their opposition, and it was a palpable difference.
The playing field was leveled, and everyone had a chance. Schalke weren't prepared for such a power shift within the standings, and they suffered for it. Perhaps that would even be an understatement. They failed to register a win for almost an entire month, and their five-game losing streak was absolutely excruciating, regardless of your allegiance.
Schalke looked downright abysmal week after week, and many thought their playoff spot was no longer warranted. Fortunately, they were able to step up and get an incredibly important win over Misfits Gaming last week, which literally catapulted them back into playoff contention. In fact, they're basically locked in seeing how they're still reaping the benefits from their initial Spring Split run. Seeing them so aggressive (and successful) against Misfits was a highly welcomed sight. A lot of time has passed since we last saw Schalke players being on the same page, and when they do manage to pull it off -- it is a thing of absolute beauty.
Origen, on the other hand, are still as hard to read as ever -- but you cannot deny their strength and overall potential. They're on a four-game win streak, they took down Splyce, Team Vitality, and SK Gaming recently, and are rightfully tied for second place along with Splyce and Team Vitality. The problem is, they don't look like a super team, but they compensate through stellar drafts and team play. They step up individually as well when they have to, and have been looking rather exceptional over the last couple of weeks. They're all veterans (excluding their young AD prospect Patrik), and they know how to play the game from start to finish. They're a bit rough around the edges, and they're prone to making errors at the most random of times but they're still gelling as a five-man unit so these are understandable growing pains.
Their jungler Kold has perhaps been their biggest catalyst, and his stellar, cerebral jungling style is doing wonders for their entire team. He's at the right place at the right time, and has shown a respectable proficiency on a wide variety of picks -- tanks and bruisers alike. The rest of his squad always follow suit, and their overall play rarely disappoints.
This is a risky bet, and saying that feels strange. How can this be a risky bet, when one of these two teams was only just able to break their five-game lose streak? Schalke lost to the who's who of the LEC, and yet they're still predicted as a tough opponent. While such a thing does boggle the mind, it does make some sense. We've seen the glimpses of brilliance from this Schalke line-up, and if they ever manage to get on the same page once again they're going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Will that happen in time for playoffs? No one knows. We cannot know how their latest win will affect the team -- and whether or not that'll be enough to give them a fighting chance against Origen. Speaking of Origen, they're not the epitome of consistency either, so it's really a double-edged sword. This is a hard game to predict, and in reality it could really go either way. Origen, however, are favored and with good reason. They have reached immense heights and are currently tied for second. Schalke had a painful fall from grace, and even though they have a ton of potential, we simply cannot give them the benefit of the doubt.
We're going with Origen on this one, but not with full confidence. It's a 50/50 game that's slightly tilted in Origen's favor. They have the strong early game in order to combat Schalke's early prowess, and their team play and stellar drafting should give them an edge throughout all stages of the game as well.