Schalke 04: A Most Historic LEC Run, In Spite of the Odds
Western League of Legends isn’t as exciting as some would like you to believe. In fact, at its worst, it can get quite tiring and predictable. The same organizations take turns at the throne, with only infrequent dips in performance — dips that last just long enough for us to actually get excited for a potential shift in the status quo. This is why this most recent Schalke 04 miracle run in the 2020 LEC summer split is so important and, frankly speaking, mind-blowing.
It defies all logic and reason. You can analyze it to your heart’s content, dissect it from all sides, and it still wouldn’t make any sense. If you were given a script with this kind of outcome, you’d scream “unrealistic” at the top of your lungs. By all means, Schalke pulled off what seemed nigh impossible.
Just imagine: a team locked in tenth place (seemingly forever), with just a single win on the board and ten lopsided defeats next to it entering . Hardly impressive. Such a depressing win-loss tally takes you back to the days when relegation loomed over the heads of many bottom-tier dwellers. You’d think “why have these abysmal players been given the chance to compete on the LEC stage” and you’d have every right to think so. After all, many players out there in the world only compete to collect a cheque and build a fanbase. And this Schalke line-up, while not exactly abysmal, was lacking in every sense of the word.
But then the wins started happening.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
At first we all thought these were statistical anomalies, moments in which Schalke punched above their weight class, only to descend back to whence they came — but the wins didn’t stop. Naturally, the LEC hype machine started working around the clock, but you could feel the uncertainty behind the hype — no one truly believed in Schalke, and there’s a very good reason why that was the case. This was by no means a team brimming with talent but rather a strange mishmash of grizzled veterans past their prime and mid-tier rookies who were never supposed to accomplish much in a region as competitive as the LEC.
Seven incredible wins were necessary for Schalke to complete a sensational miracle run to the 2020 LEC summer playoffs. They went from being the laughing stock of the region to the most feared and enigmatic challenger the league has to offer.
It’d be funny if it weren’t so darn mind-blowing.
Their run shares many commonalities with that of Cloud9’s 2015 miracle gauntlet — the days when the boys in black and white managed to win three Best of 5s in just as many days, two of which happened to be reverse sweeps. Their 2018 ascension (from 3W-7L to 11W-7L) was equally as impressive, but Cloud9 always had some of the best players North America had to offer. These instances — while certainly incredible — were at least somewhat rooted in logic.
Schalke 04, on the other hand, had nothing to work with, and yet they succeeded all the same.
A Miracle Run in the Making?
There’s always the possibility of these miracle runs happening, but the odds are always so slim, so meager and miniscule. So many things have to happen, so many events need to coalesce for a moment like this one to occur. Naturally, the notion of stringing so many wins in succession is quite outlandish — it is a dream out of reach for many mid-tier gatekeepers and bottom-tier dwellers; and yet every so often there comes a line-up that manages to defy the odds and etch their names in history.
Whenever this happens on the World Championship stage we tend to tune in with open eyes, biting our nails and watching on the edge of our seats. But one could argue that moments like these are endlessly more entertaining when they happen on home soil — when they collide with local storylines and age-old narratives that are rooted in history.
Schalke are already the biggest winners of 2020 with their LEC run. They don’t have anything left to prove, and getting even more wins on the board would only serve as icing on the cake. Still, their level of play has to make us wonder: are they truly one of the best teams in the region, or was this just a mind-blowing, logic-defying run that’ll end as unexpectedly as it began? No one’s quite sure, and we cannot wait to find out. One thing is for certain: watching them compete has been one of the most exciting and unexpected thrills of 2020.