Friday’s EU LCS semifinal between FC Schalke 04 and Team Vitality was an emotional affair. It meant the world to the teams: A win would mean the first finals appearance for either squad.
That would’ve been a huge achievement for Vitality, but Schalke came out ahead. And for them, victory might have been even more meaningful. Their road has been a rocky one—after the German soccer club bought an LCS spot in 2016, the team was almost immediately relegated. Instead of dropping out, they stuck with it, won their spot back, and doggedly pursued their first playoff berth. This is the ultimate story of redemption.
Of all the people in the organization who worked toward this moment, nobody knows that redeeming feeling more than jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider. Through over six years of competitive League of Legends experience, Amazing has seen it all. He’s been to finals before, winning two: One with TSM in 2014 and the other with Origen the following year.
But just eight months ago, we thought that his journey as a pro was going in another direction. He’d long been dogged by questions over his champion pool and whether he could survive on tanky junglers. Eventually, he found himself back at the LCS studio, but as an analyst on the desk. It seemed like his playing days were over.
When it was announced a few months ago that he joined Schalke, we had no idea what to expect. Sure, he brought veteran experience, but outside of ADC Elias “Upset” Lipp, Schalke weren’t short on that. It’s no wonder that, at the time, we described Amazing as always having been “barely on the verge of greatness.”
Now, though, a lot of those questions have been answered. Amazing out-jungled Vitality’s Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek—himself quite the redemption story—through three nail-biting games. The rest of the team poured everything they had into the series once they saw that their veteran jungler could win a tempo advantage, the one thing many thought they couldn’t do.
After it all ended, the team huddled, shook hands with Vitality, high-fived the crowd, and returned to their desks. It was in that moment that Amazing just couldn’t hold the emotions in.
What a great story for him and the rest of Schalke. And we haven’t even gotten to the kicker: This might be Schalke’s last run in the EU LCS. With franchising comes a lot of questions, and Schalke have said that they’re researching the new league with “no yes or no” on a decision.
Perhaps knowing that this could be the end of a team that’s come so far has pushed them over the edge. If it’s curtains on Schalke 04, what a finale it’s been. They’ve written one of the most amazing LCS stories we’ve seen yet, and they still have one more series to go.