The upper bracket of the 2021 LEC Spring Split playoffs begins this weekend with a matchup between G2 Esports and Schalke 04. And frankly, it’s a bit of a shame that these two League of Legends teams are meeting so early in the playoff bracket. Both Schalke and G2 have shown that they can be some of the most bombastic and explosive teams in the LEC when they’re playing to the highest of their abilities.
G2 and Schalke both kept a strong portion of their core lineups intact coming into the 2021 season, making upgrades where necessary. The dependable Schalke mid/jungle duo of Abbedagge and Gilius was boosted by the addition of former TSM top laner Broken Blade, while G2 added in Rekkles for a substantial amount of extra firepower.
While the Rogues and Fnatics of the LEC have been doing everything in their power to keep pace with G2’s dominance, Schalke have been quietly making a solid attempt as well. This weekend, we should see for certain whether Schalke’s attempts were frivolous or legitimate.
These two teams have been duking it out in incendiary fashion for the better part of the last three seasons—and this weekend’s contest shouldn’t stray too far from tradition. Even this spring, G2 and Schalke 04 split their head-to-head series by a score of one to one. Among G2’s four losses this split, the one to Schalke was easily the worst. During that week two contest, Schalke utterly dismantled G2 in just 34 minutes, beating the defending LEC champions by a total of 11,000 gold.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Schalke’s convincing victory all those weeks ago was the performance of the team’s top laner, Broken Blade. While Wunder has done a decent enough job of running circles around the entire cast of LEC top laners, Broken Blade managed to stave him off and find relative success in both of Schalke’s games against G2 this season.
On both occasions, Broken Blade played Aatrox and proved to be a thorn in Wunder’s side, posting a relatively impressive scoreline of 8/3/7 across the two games they played against each other. In both of those games, Broken Blade was Schalke’s top damage dealer, according to League stats site gol.gg. And if the team is going to stand a chance against G2 tomorrow, it’ll need the German native to step up and challenge Wunder like seemingly no one else in the LEC can.
Another key component in determining the winner of this series will be the drafts heading into each game. Last time these two teams played on Feb. 20, G2 outfoxed Schalke by picking popular flex picks across the board in Senna, Gragas and Sion, effectively leaving Schalke guessing. G2 placed Mikyx on Sion and swung Gragas in the direction of Wunder to give the team a tank presence on both sides of the map.
G2 most likely has some galaxy-brain strategies stored up their sleeves for the LEC playoffs. But if Schalke can weather the storm and pick to their strengths, the team might just have a shot against Europe’s top team.
Fortunately for Schalke, Broken Blade and Abbedagge had two of the deepest champion pools in the league this split, playing 12 and 11 champions across 18 games, respectively. Schalke haven’t been afraid to bust out off-meta champions such as Urgot, Jax, and Nocturne (in a solo lane), and it wouldn’t be stunning to see the team play some even more bizarre champions this weekend.
G2 have been playing the big-brain game all season, but don’t count out Schalke’s ability to bend the rules either. If Dylan Falco can pull a few rabbits out of his hat and outdraft Grabbz on three occasions—which has been a tall order in best-of-ones, let alone best-of-fives—then Schalke might have a chance at an upset.
If anything, Schalke have to focus on preventing G2 from dialing it in. Once the champs get rolling, they’re practically unstoppable. Sure, they gave up a few best-of-one matchups this spring, but the 14 games that they did win need to be respected. The standings alone won’t tell you that G2 practically cruised toward first place yet again, but their commanding play on stage certainly will.
Luckily for Schalke, they can also have some extremely high highs—and they’ve showcased that against G2 this season, in particular. As one of just four teams to beat G2 in 2021, Schalke have a keen mark on their résumé that not many other teams can sport.
Additionally, Schalke proudly stand as one of the only teams in the LEC to kill Rekkles multiple times in one game. Rekkles’ 0/2/5 performance against Schalke on Jan. 30 was his worst game of the split and the only game in 2021 in which he didn’t record a single kill. Schalke did what no other team could this season in that game: they effectively found a way to make Rekkles a non-factor. If they can keep G2’s newfound golden boy playing in black-and-white mode this weekend, they might just stand a chance.
Although Schalke 04 might have barely scraped into the playoffs by way of a hot streak at the end of the Spring Split, they can still be considered a threat to G2’s run on their best days.
While it would definitely result in an amazing story if Schalke were to upset G2, keep in mind that G2 are still—by a wide margin—the obvious favorite to secure another LEC trophy and represent Europe at MSI. Let’s ground ourselves for a moment because, in all actuality, G2 are looking at this first-round series with Schalke as a stepping stone on a much longer road to another LEC title.
We’re not saying to rule out a little bit of madness—it is March, after all. But we’re also telling you to not be particularly stunned if G2 walk away with a clean victory.
G2 will face off against Schalke tomorrow, March 27, at 11am CT.
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