When Lukas "Lurox" Thoma joined Schalke 04 at the start of the League of Legends European Championship Spring Split, he was hired to play in Schalke Evolution—the academy team. However, after the main roster had greatly underperformed, Lurox was called into action: he replaced Erberk "Gilius" Demir as Schalke's main jungler. We sat down with Lurox at the start of Week 4 of the LEC's Spring Split. He told us about his experience stepping on the LEC stage, and explained what he will bring to Schalke 04 to help the team improve as the split progresses.
Congratulations on making it to the LEC stage. What was your first thought when you finally stepped on the stage?
First of all, thank you. I remember last week, when I had my first game in the LEC, I was really nervous. I didn't play that well that game, but I guess no-one of us did, so it didn't look that bad. But yeah I was really nervous for my first game.
How do you feel about the achievement of making it to the main stage?
It's great. Schalke's plan from the start was to get me to the LEC, but it came a lot earlier than I expected. I expected to make it maybe later in the Spring Split or in the Summer Split, but now I made it in the third week. I guess it's partially because of the poor performance of the team, so they needed to make changes.
What kind of pressure were you feeling when you entered the stage?
It's hard to say. I felt good about it, but afterward I realized that I didn't play as well as I usually do. I wasn't shaking or anything, but I felt stressed out and pressured. But I guess that was just the first game. The day after, during the second game, I was already used to it and it was just another game. It was a lot better already then.
Were there any tricks to help calm the nerves, or did your team perhaps help you?
Not really, no. It was just about getting used to the environment.
You mentioned that you didn't expect to be called upon so soon in the split. What did you think of Schalke's sudden decision to sub you in?
The day after the fourth loss, Dylan [Falco] was in the office. We walked together, and he basically told me: "You're in now." It was pretty nice, but we had talked about things before and we kind of knew what would happen if the team's performance would continue like it had. I've been scrimming with the team since December and through the tryout period, and I still had scrim games even when Gilius was playing. I was always part of the team as a substitute. So I was excited, but it wasn't like "oh now I get to play with these guys!" I had been playing with them for two months. It wasn't that much of a change.
We can't ignore that Schalke's overall performance has been very poor in the past weeks. In what way will you help the team improve?
I think I can lead and help the team better through the mid-game and late-game, and be more decisive about objectives.
You're a shot caller?
Yeah, but it's not like I'm the only one talking. Especially with Innaxe: he talks a lot. So I'm trying to filter him so we only get the good stuff from what he says and not the bad stuff. He has a lot of good ideas, so I try to help him that way.
So it's the two new guys on Schalke 04 who are giving the team a new direction?
Less so with me, it's more the case with Innaxe. He's the opposite of FORG1VEN, in a way. FORG1VEN was a silent player, just doing his job et cetera, whereas Innaxe talks permanently and tries to make plays happen. It's kind of unusual for an ADC, but it's something that's good for the team I think.
More communication seems to be good for the team. Is that where it went wrong in the past few weeks for Schalke?
No, you can't really pinpoint it on one thing. There were many things going wrong, and many things are still going wrong. That's why we lost today as well, in the end. Things look a bit better, I think, but there is still a lot going wrong. We're trying to fix them one by one, and at the moment we're looking at long term solutions instead of short term solutions. Spring Split is pretty doomed for us right now, unless we can achieve a miracle run.
Such a losing streak takes a toll on players' mentality too. How do you guys support each other within the team?
It's hard to say. There's not really anything we do. We have a sports psychologist that helps and works with us, but I don't think anyone in the team needs extra help at the moment. We're all doing fine. It's hard for everyone of course, but I think no-one needs something extra. The sports psychologist is very helpful for us.
What can we expect from Schalke 04 during the rest of the split?
A few wins, at least. Maybe a miracle run, but we have to work really hard for that. We won't give up, that's for sure. We will try to win until the end.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.