Often, only a few mistakes can snowball a game into a safe loss. In the sixth week of the EU LCS, two teams that are currently fighting for the top 3 spots of the region encountered each other on the rift. Schalke 04 faced off G2 Esports, a team which they are trying to close in in the standings. So at this point in the season the “Year of Nukeduck” transcended from a meme to Deficio’s motto and of course the real deal. Nukeduck is performing massively and to say that he hasn’t been the main carry at Schalke 04 is an understatement of their success. So in order for both to secure the desired top 2 spot by the end of the season this win, would be very important to both.
Both teams have been playing a similar style throughout this split, both teams main carry is their mid laner, they mainly play a tank and/or scaling tops, whenever Aatrox is not open and go for safe bot lane matchups that either have the better 2v2 or are safe and scaling.
Their priorities are similar, but in their first encounter, an early game and skirmish focused Schalke 04 draft wasn’t able to beat out the G2 funneling strategy, so Schalke had to come prepared for this matchup.
Even if it starts with two very unusual blue side bans in Heimerdinger and Aatrox, Schalke sets their focus very clear for the game not to let G2 have better pressure in the early game in their side lanes. As a response to the Rakan ban, Schalke locks in to secure their preferred engage support, giving a free Gragas and Yasuo rotation to G2. The interesting thing is that usually you wouldn’t want to give away this combo to G2 which they have executed well and forced several bans in the past couple of weeks. Despite one of the strongest combos of the patch being open G2 plays it safe and locks in the double flex in Gragas and Vladimir. Which is closed out by Schalke with a safe matchup with Sejuani and a scaling bot lane as they usually prefer to play to give Nukeduck more playroom.
G2 finishes the draft with the earlier expected Yasuo pick. The interesting part is that both teams seem to be very comfortable at this stage of the game, both could get their safe farming and scaling bot lane as they like to do. The key point is the decisions they take coming up the second round of bans. Then G2 have as well a scaling bottom lane carry as well as their strong mid and jungle combo. What they still can secure is lane pressure during the early game to stop the Yasuo. So what Schalke does is banning Gnar and Trundle. It might seem odd to ban Trundle here since G2 has already picked Gragas.
However Trundle has similar interactions with Yasuo and works just as fine in the combo setup, but what it does better than Gragas in the situation is that Trundle is able to abuse the direct 1v1 matchup against Sejuani mostly in the early game to set up their team to an early game advantage better than the Gragas. Leading to what is the win condition of any team that drafts a Yasuo, set up the Yasuo for mid game and then abuse his strength through split pushing in the mid-game. Which also ends up being the reason for the Gnar ban, taking away strong mid game split pushing from the top laner Wunder. G2’s answer to that is take away scaling top lane tanks that could prevent Yasuo from being successful in Cho Gath and Poppy.
G2 secures Pike to be able to pressure more the mid lane and force picks for the Yasuo and the last rotation of Schalke is the one that caught most viewers a bit out of surprise. Schalke confidently locks in Zed and Rumble for their last rotation. By buying the skill matchup in the mid lane, they are showing their confidence in their mid laner. Since the matchup individually is better and easier to play for the Zed player, the 2v2 is slightly in favor of G2 due to the E Flash combo of Gragas to set up the Yasuo ultimate at level 6. With both lock-ins, Schalke is able to secure pressure on the top side and setting up Sejuani to farm and do effective counter ganks due to their preferred lane pressure.
Forcing that G2 picks up a scaling top laner if they want to have a low resource and still be able to pull off the 1-3-1 split pushing in the mid-game, the Mundo pick fits in perfectly. The only downside is that due to the lane matchup he is forced to build magic resistance as his first item choice, leading to Zed being a much more dangerous tool during the first 20 minutes of the game.
G2 depends on setting up the Yasuo to succeed. So their highest priority is to make him snowball at all costs to secure the mid-game. Their biggest spike is in the late game, with Mundo and Vladimir, so they have to make sure they aren’t rolled over by the Zed and Rumble mid game. Then the only champion on G2 with a strong spike before reaching three items is Perk’s Yasuo. So if G2 wants to beat Schalke they will have to set up Perkz up to snowball. Notice Yasuo has to run cleanse in this setup due to the point and click cc of Ryze and having to keep his wind wall up for Sejuani and with that his pressure and kill potential decreases slightly.
While G2 has to play proactive to seek plays, create opportunities to give Yasuo a lead. Schalke can just farm up, let Amazing back up his solo laners and punish G2’s mistakes until Zed and Rumble have their first item spike. Still, both teams depend on a decent early game and their side lane control throughout the mid game to be successful, the only difficulty for G2 is to overcome their disadvantage in the mid-game against Schalke’s draft.
So in the Early Game, there was one thing to do for G2 take away the top lane rift scuttler from Schalke’s 04 and prevent them from dominating the top side of the map from the first minute of the game. Due to Amazing and Jankos both wanting to play around the top side, they both started red. For Amazing to be sure how Jankos will do his first clear of the jungle, Nukeduck sets a ward at 1:30 in the pixel brush. This way they can confirm if Jankos will play it safe and trade Scutler Crabs and take the bottom side one.
However, G2 had a smart answer to this. Perkz didn’t pull for his jungler and was already in lane awaiting the first wave. By being this tiny bit early in the lane, Perkz is able to push the first wave into Nukeduck’s turret and roam towards the scuttler to secure it before Amazing could be there, which was G2’s reaction to Schalke contesting the ward on the bottom side river. Anyways this only works partly then Rumble is able to push the top lane covers Sejuani when contesting the top side scuttle, it is still going to G2 Esports but with the cost of a slight pressure and exp advantage to Schalke.
Leaving the pressure still to Schalke’s top laner on Rumble, but with the vulnerability of not having the scuttler control, which isn’t a problem then Gragas has to clear his top side jungle and so he is able to continue pushing as Gragas most likely won’t gank him.
Where it went wrong
Despite both teams have clear gameplans and they were aware of it. The execution from G2 Esports in this match wasn’t on point in this specific game. The idea, the planning was there, but the execution wasn’t done 100% properly to go out their way. The problem is the repetition of those tiny mechanical mistakes can lead to a snowball of actions hindering the success of the team composition. And from one tiny mistake multiple ones can chain into a multiple amounts of mistakes that end up snowballing out of control.
So as the plans proceed Jankos is setting up vision around the bottom side river to prepare a mid gank with Wadid, who is on his way towards the mid lane after going to the base. Jankos just saw Schalke securing the rift scuttler and with his trinket noticed the ward in the pixel brush walking. Instead of waiting for Wadid to arrive and back him up while he clears the ward, he decides to contest the position as Amazing walks by trying to bait Schalke into a fight, where they think they have the man advantage. What he disregarded at that moment is that Nukeduck was able to maintain the push even on the mid lane and that Ryze and Alistar had the push advantage at bottom lane, giving Alistar the ability to roam, so with that said they were able to be not only faster in position to fight but most importantly single out Jankos from the fight and burst him down before he could even react. Sadly, he burns his flash and this ruins near possibilities to get the gank in the mid lane off well enough.
Only a couple of minutes later we see another encounter at that same exact spot. This time Jankos encounter Vander roaming up and wants to break his pattern, which is fine. Vander then finds the ward in the pixel brush and starts to clear it and Jankos decides to engage on him and uses his e and ultimate on Vander and Upset to stop them taking the ward. The problem is that he just used his two spells that he could set up his mid laner for an ultimate on their support while PerkZ wasn’t even in range. Which changes the whole perspective of the fight. Had he waited on using those spells he could have setup Perkz on an interesting target and not Alistar.
The problem is that by him using his spells before they could take any proper fight leads to put Schalke in the upper hand. It enables for Vander to zone out Perkz as well as for Schalke to turn to the bot lane that is just roaming up as Yasuo won’t be able to attend the fight after Vander pushing him away and since Jankos hesitated and already spent all his spells the only threats are the Vladimir and Pyke roaming up.
Leaving the opportunity to turn aside and hard to engage with them as they walk up.
That’s what Schalke instantly does with the Ryze ultimate to zone out Wadid from the rest of the team and provide Amazing with the distance needed for him to engage on him with a flash ultimate. It is a back and forth of answering and reacting to the others impulses that create such a possibility happen. For this to work tho, teams have to be prepared and already in position for this and be ready to go. The Problem is now G2 gave away not only momentum to Schalke 04 this way they were safe in the bot lane matchup. Forcing g2 to reestablish their bottom side of the map. Luckily after resetting the situation, their bot lane was able to punish Upset while pushing alone in the bot lane.
However, this also leads to Schalke being able to secure the Rift Herald to use to expand their lead. The interesting part is that Schalke played it smart and safe, as usually teams would use it to break the mid lane tier one, Schalke uses it instead to free up their top laner and rotate the whole team towards the mid lane to pressure it.
The only problem for Schalke is that their draft is not optimal for sieging turrets.
They rely heavily on side lane control, Rumble’s ultimate or a pickoff to be able to properly force a siege or they need someone to make a mistake to create that opportunity window.
Those mistakes happen usually when you force the play you are looking for.
Which happened sadly once again to Jankos this game. Despite knowing the positions of Schalke’s players, Jankos went to clear a ward and it happened exactly what happened the previous times, Jankos got caught out of position.
With this, the turrets were down and Schalke was able to play around their split-pushing pressure and snowball the game.
In the end, both teams prepared properly for the encounter, both teams came into the match drafting towards their strengths despite a clear deficit coming into the game, G2 had clear ways to still win the game they lacked the proper execution this time.