Taking a break is still a rarity for esports players, especially due to the shortly expected longevity of careers. Only a few players have attempted it and made successful comebacks. This week we’ve seen the come back of Marcel ”Amazing” Stückenschneider.
The German jungler, that early on made a name for himself by joining Copenhagen Wolves and showcasing his skills on Lee Sin, led him quickly over to Team Solomid in North America.
Despite reaching worlds, they weren’t able to translate their regional success internationally, so Amazing accepted the challenge of joining Xpeke’s new team, Origen. In a year’s time, the team managed to get from Challenger series to an EU LCS Finals to top 4 at worlds. After that, the Jungler has been struggling to find a fitting team. Even after qualifying Fnatic Academy to the LCS, his short appearance with Mysterious Monkeys left a bittersweet feeling for his fans. So he took a split off instead of joining a team he wasn’t 100% confident in joining.
The expectations were high for Amazing in Schalke 04, but the first split didn’t end well for the team. Schalke finished 8th place in the spring split, ending up far below the expectations from everyone. If that wasn't enough, the team was embroiled in a bit of social media drama when they announced a change of junglers via Reddit comment. Pridestalker might not have performed towards the very hyped expectations of the young jungle main, but this wasn’t the way fans hoped to get the news. So when Schalke announced Amazing as their new starting Jungler, fans were skeptical.
A decision point
Amazing played two times on Camille, a champion that should be in his comfort zone. The carry oriented Jungler adapted to previous metas, but was always more comfortable on more aggressive and carry oriented Junglers. As the meta progressed to current state it forced teams to decide on two decisions: either to commit to a single carry four supports strategy or opt for early snowball heavy compositions. The latter should benefit Schalke as they previously showed solid and strong early laning phase skills over the course of the last split. They have strong individual players, but they weren’t able to transcend this success to later stages of the game or simply lacked in the quality map movement in the mid-game.
Actually, one of the most outstanding moments in their match against Unicorns of Love was that they were able to pick up the pace towards the mid-game. Due to a slow and scaling draft by Schalke 04, not only was Amazing unable to do any kind of proactive play, but the lane matchups didn’t provide him the lane pressure needed to play proactive in the matchup of Camille against Trundle. They showed very strong mid game decision making to take over the lead against the Unicorns of love, especially by forcing mid pressure right after punishing Whiteknight’s split pushing 22 minutes into the game. Not only were they able to even out the map pressure from Unicorn’s early turret lead, but they also were able to get the needed momentum to contest the games lead.
After all, they were close to Ezreal’s three item spike and getting into a very interesting fighting position for their composition making the small gold advantage for Unicorn’s almost irrelevant. In the end, it was their response to a bad dive by Unicorns in the 26th minute, which leads to Schalke secure Baron and abuses their three item spike with a powerful baron play. Schalke definitely knows how to use momentum, but showed questionable performance in the early game which ended up not only giving the first blood in the top lane, but in general a lead to a team with a stronger early game. Although Kayle’s level six spike is very powerful against the Yasuo there is no stronger 2v2 combo in this patch than Yasuo and Trundle.
Amazing should have either relieved their pressure on the bot side of the map or tried to get small leads through the top side of the map. At level six, Kayle is able to hold the mid lane fairly safely and Unicorn’s wouldn’t be able to pressure the mid lane that easy, on the other hand, Vizicsaci could have needed some backup by Amazing at 7 minutes into the game. Combined with the gank at 9 minutes of the game, Schalke let Kold get advantages for free. Amazing was neither in the position to answer or even it out for the team. Still, the mid lane gank ended up badly due to the slight overconfident engage that ended up under Exileh's turret, but also Unicorns read it well after Nukeduck set his ward as Yasuo moved up into the direction of the blue buff.
Kold moved directly to clear the ward and Exileh repositioned to stay near Kold as both predict a gank to happen, which saved Exileh’s life and made it possible to punish Amazing at the same time. There is the possibility of a tracking mistake by Schalke due to the top gank by Trundle and also the early invade that could lead Amazing to think he had a positional advantage for the gank. A similar situation happened at 18 minutes in the top lane, where Kold was once again a step ahead.
Schalke didn’t suffer from the same problems against Fnatic due to a slightly better draft for the early game. They were able to secure first blood on the top and due to Vander’s relic shield to also get bot lane pressure in the first few minutes of the game. Another way to showcase how Schalke uses their advantage very smart is at the four-minute mark against Fnatic.
With Vander roaming to set up the vision following Caps going to base setting up a smart ward to keep further track of Broxah’s jungle pathing but it also enables ganks in the mid lane as long the bot lane is stuck to their turret due to the wave positioning.
This is what Schalke does only a few seconds after when Broxah shows up mid lane to push with Caps. Despite all the efforts of Schalke to snowball on Caps, they didn’t manage to close out the game against Fnatic. Amazing shines when given the opportunities to make plays in the early game. By playing their single target pick off style and punishing Caps whenever they could they were able to snowball a significant lead by playing around Nukeduck’s Twisted Fate, but at 21 minutes Fnatic slips through to secure a very important Baron to stall until Caps is ready to carry. Basically, Schalke failed at what they excelled in their match against Unicorns of Love, mid game decision making.
The game-changing aspect is that Schalke had committed to a drake when Upset went to the base and saw Fnatic moving up towards the top side of the map. Due to Fnatic having spread out vision, it was an easy call to start the baron with Karma and Nunu boosting Caps Kai’sa to kill the Baron in 13 seconds. This little glimpse of miscommunication and forgetting Fnatic’s fast Baron was significant for Fnatic to comeback as they were able to stall out enough time for Caps to get his items and, at the same time to start to close out the gold lead towards Schalke.
Unfortunately, Schalke didn’t have an answer to Fnatic’s siege once they are ahead. Even the scaling was on Fnatic’s side and combined with the Morgana and Karma playing all around Caps Kai’sa there was no way for Schalke to pick off Caps after that.
The amount of cc protection, mobility and wave clear combined made it easy for Fnatic to overrun Schalke as soon as they got Baron. It was a bad team decision that prevented Schalke from going 2-0 in the first week.
Schalke’s first week definitely showed some needed improvements, the team seems to be playing smarter with Amazing in the Jungle. The meta should fit them as it benefits a mid lane carry and aggressive jungle picks. They are not playing as clean or as good needed to beat the top teams yet, but the potential to grow and become a top four team in a couple of weeks is definitely there. Their mid game decision making showed some improvement even if they did a basic, but deciding shot-calling mistake against Fnatic.
Amazing has definitely been a positive aspect in the team’s performance this week, they should focus more on how to set him up in the early game and provide him with the tools needed to play at his strengths. Until this meta changes back to the old standard, it is definitely in Schalke’s ability to use the current state of the game to secure valuable wins early on in the season. As the team progresses they will need to show more knowledge and even better decision making in order to beat G2 or Fnatic.