Gilius Benched, Kirei to Start For Schalke 04 Going Forward
EXCEL’s decision to sign Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm confused and baffled thousands of LEC fans across the globe and Schalke 04, not ones to be outdone, decided to go a step further and make a vexing roster change of their own — they’ve benched Erberk “Gilius” Demir and have decided to make Thomas “Kirei” Yuen their starting jungler going forward.
If you’re scratching your head right now, know that you’re not in the minority.
The reasoning behind this decision is somewhat unclear. Schalke released a statement with the intent of explaining things, but it’s of the blanket variety and doesn’t actually provide us with any concrete information. They supposedly had tryouts for the jungle position and thought that Kirei would be a great fit for the team. Gilius, on the other hand, will remain with Schalke for the time being before (almost certainly) signing for another organization come off-season.
Not The Best of Changes
The reason why this roster change makes no sense has two components. First of all, Kirei is by no means a young, up-and-coming prospect whose best days are still ahead. Instead, he’s a twenty-four-year-old veteran who never really made much of a splash on the LEC stage. He’s just one of those players who came in, failed to leave a mark, and then faded into obscurity — or in Kirei’s case into the ERLs.
Now, whether or not he was ever really set up for success is quite debatable, but he’s a known quantity through and through. And sure, he’s definitely found a fair bit of success in the LFL with Misfits Premier and GamersOrigin, but playing on the LEC stage is a completely different beast. Moreover, Kirei’s been around. He has played in the LCS back with Dignitas, in the LEC with Misfits Gaming, and was even able to win a split in the TCL with 1907 Fenerbahçe Esports. So, as far as careers go, Kirei’s is a fairly respectable one.
And sure, the whole Misfits Gaming debacle back in 2019 was none of his fault — Kirei was just one of the many victims of that whole implosion — but it’s still hard to envision him truly succeeding under the Schalke 04 banner, an organization that, in all fairness, hasn’t always made the correct calls and roster changes. Their two recent “miracle runs” mostly came off the backs of Gilius and Felix “Abbedagge” Braun, neither of whom will be starting for Schalke come Summer Split.
Moreover, one simply has to pose the following question: what was so wrong with the previous Schalke line-up and the things they’ve accomplished in the first half of 2021? They had not only finished in fourth place but were also able to go the five-game distance with G2 Esports, clean sweep Fnatic, and then even take a game off of Rogue a week later. That’s pretty much a spectacular split given whom we’re talking about. Being a Top 4 team in a region as stacked and competitive as the LEC is no small feat, and Schalke deserve praise for the way they’ve performed. Were they perfect? Perish the thought, but they gradually improved and were eventually able to trade blows with the very best teams in Europe.
Now, though, they’ve not only lost their prized mid laner but have also decided to bench one of their most clutch players. Gilius is by no means the epitome of consistency, and he’s definitely prone to feeding and mispositioning at the most random of moments, but he also had a slew of brilliant plays, and was more than worthy of another shot.
Even if Kirei has improved tenfold since we last saw him on the LEC stage (which is far from impossible), it feels like he has once again signed for a team that won’t accomplish much in the grand scheme of things, so it’s hardly a worthwhile decision. Moreover, given Schalke’s financial woes, Kirei might be out of a job come 2022, so he’s really taking a gamble here — one that is pretty ill-advised.
Regardless, he deserves another shot at playing on the biggest of stages in Europe, if anything just for the way he’d been wronged by Misfits back in 2019.