The League of Legends European Championship match of the week was set to be Fnatic vs MAD Lions, but in terms of excitement, it was unquestionably Schalke 04 vs G2 Esports. Walking to the stage, the first thought that had crossed my mind was “Can you imagine if Schalke’s first win in the season is against G2? That would make for such a strong comeback”.
It is evident that G2’s roster had been shaken from yesterday’s unexpected loss against Misfits Gaming, but undeniably, Schalke 04’s roster changes have proven to be the right decision as they showcased a much stronger and aggressive form. After the match, coach Dylan Falco addressed the issues with the previous roster and talked about the recent improvements in the team.
Schalke just had a very positive - and unexpected outcome against G2 Esports, but let’s not forget what happened in the previous weeks. Can you explain why is it that your team had been underperforming?
I think that when we created our roster we took a lot of risks. We knew we were in a position where it was hard for us to attract the very best players, so we tried a strategy with high-risk players but also put a lot of scouting efforts into our Academy roster. I think some of these risks did not work out, it was really apparent in the first [few] weeks. We actually had quite strong individual players and often we were winning two to three lanes per game but we just couldn’t make team-play work with that roster, so I think that’s ultimately the reason why it failed, so now we got in and made some changes and tried to improve things.
Why did the team-plays not work out? Was it poor team synergy?
All of the coordination aspects. Syncing on waves and everyone being on time for objectives is really, really important now was what we were lacking the most.
"I think we are a much better team than our record shows."
And what remedies did you take to improve the team?
We tried really, really hard to try and fix it. We were coming in early, we were practicing like crazy, but ultimately, we made roster changes.
How is it working for Schalke when it comes to scaling the team’s level to match other LEC teams?
I think we are a much better team than our record shows. We had many games even with the roster we were playing before that easily could have been wins and I know some teams behind the scenes who are near the bottom of the standings that cannot win any scrim games against the LEC level of opponents. For us, it is the opposite. Internally we are doing very, very well. We look very, very skilled and have a positive team environment. But I think we just lost a bunch of games and it really got to us. Without a doubt we will pick up more wins in the second half of the split.
Outside the game, what has Schalke worked towards to make sure that the pressure and negativity of losses aren’t affecting you so much?
We always have a forward-thinking attitude towards things, I try to make sure the guys are focused on solutions and not problems. I want to make sure we are not just making excuses for bad plays or picking one thing and inciting it as the problem, when it’s all five players and all aspects of the game have things to improve on.
In an interview/video piece you did for Schalke by the end of last year you mentioned Lurox had less experience with the stage and was a little insecure. He started in Schalke’s roster just last week, how has it been?
For our first game where he played, I think he was a bit nervous. But as soon as he got to his second game he said, “It’s kind of boring, I feel completely normal." By his third game, he came to me and said “Dylan, I am pretty sure this game is completely winnable against G2 and I will do super well”.
And you went and beat them.
I think it didn’t take him that many games to be familiar to the LEC stage.
Let’s touch on the Forg1ven topic. He was one of the most anticipated roster additions in the whole LEC. Where did it go wrong?
I think ultimately things did not work out with Konstantinos not because he is unskilled. I actually was completely amazed by how strong he was after all these years when we had started scrimming with him. We didn’t know what would happen. I think a combination of meta changes and the team-play were probably the biggest issue. I know he has a reputation for attitude problems but he would get frustrated from time to time, but far from the worst player I have worked with. I think he is much more mature now than in the past, ultimately, I think it was a team-play thing that caused him to decide to leave.
As a coach, how do you normally deal with player frustration?
Usually, players just need someone to talk to someone who is understanding. You have to be able to understand their feelings and why they are frustrated and be okay with that, while also providing some actions they can take to try and fix whatever is causing them issues.
Do you think winning against such a strong team like G2 was the confidence boost your team needed?
I think my team was already, honestly, quite confident. We had the most confident 0-7 team coming in the stage that I probably have ever seen, we did not feel like we were bad. We will be much more confident now, I’m sure, and I think we can pick up quite a few wins in the second half of the split.
So basically what you’re telling me is that next week we are going to see Schalke 2-0?
We can win, yeah, for sure. I would expect us to be favored at least against Vitality and I am looking forward to playing against Excel again.
What do you have to say to the fans that have been so critical of Schalke’s performance?
I think it’s fair to be critical of a team that loses every single game *laughs*. I am always critical of myself and my decisions, just know that we have a vision of Schalke that is long term, and even if things didn't work out in the first six games I hope our fans can see that there is actually a lot of talent on this team and we are looking to build for the future, the Summer Split and beyond.