Are Schalke’s eSport escapades doomed to fail from the start?

As someone who watches the Bundesliga every week, let me tell you that, even though Schalke is a valuable club, it’s a club that is infested with incompetence to the highest level – which is why the management and the coach get switched out almost as regularly as Hamburg’s. And oddly enough, this might translate to Schalke’s eSport section as well.

On paper, everything seems fine. Schalke bought Element’s LCS Spot, a few decent players and will compete to stay in the League. But we’re looking at two major issues here:

The roster and the attitude Schalke seems to have towards this project.

At best, Schalke’s roster is enough to not get relegated into the Challenger Scene. At worst, we won’t hear much from Schalke after the summer split. The roster simply is nowhere near good enough to compete with the likes of G2, Origen or Fnatic. To put it simply, when G2 and Immortals announced their respective rosters, I was hyped. I designed my entire Fantasy LCS roster so that it would only include players from these respective teams.

After looking at Schalke’s roster however, any player from that team can consider themselves lucky if I decide to put him on my Fantasy LCS bench: A Midlaner that is average at best, yet is supposed to be the team’s biggest player, a Jungler and Toplaner that swapped teams more often in the last year than Bjergsen in his entire career and a Support that only won one out of his seven games on his most played Champion (Thresh) to close things off. If that isn’t a promising lineup, I don’t know what is. You /can/ have two foreign players on your team, not utilizing this opportunity is beyond careless for a team that considers at least making the Top 6.

Now, Elements previously managed to avoid relegation, so surely they’ll be able to do so again, right? Not really. While Schalke overtook Elements’ roster, adding very little with Fox, other teams that are planning on not getting relegated massively improved:

Roccat brought in Steeelback, a great ADC and two Korean talents for Toplane and Support as well, making sure that at least two lanes will do well in this uphill battle.

Giants! Gaming brought in promising Korean talents right before the relegation tournament, successfully avoiding losing it and by picking up Kjaer are bound to do better this split.

Splyce, luckily for Schalke, remained to be Splyce, and didnt commit to any major roster changes. They will end up being the one team that Schalke will compete against for second-last place. Nonetheless, anything but a relegation battle seems unlikely for Schalke.

But Schalke don’t even want to make Top 6, compete for the EU LCS title even. This is what really grinds my gears, the fact that Schalke obviously plays to stay in the League – not to win it. For a group of friends to get together and have this attitude, that’s fine by me, but not when it comes to a billion dollar club like Schalke. Schalke 04 have the finances. They’re an enormous club, with huge investments from Russian gas giants. They have the third biggest supporter base in the world.

​Do I expect Schalke to pour millions of dollars into their eSports section? Absolutely not. But if you’re not willing to invest a bare minimum when you have ridiculous amounts of liquidity and sponsorship support anyway, you don’t belong to the LCS in the first place. Luckily, results will show that Schalke really don’t.

 

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Darius Matuschak

Darius is an esports journalist trying to nurture esports culture whenever possible. He got into esports while finishing his Bachelor in Journalism, and has been a regular EU LCS attendee since January 2017.

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