Falling Into Place

At Schalke 04, we take risks collectively.

It doesn’t matter whether the play is good or bad: we are all in.

That mindset alone has limits, and we found out the hard way in the Spring Split.

We managed to get off to a strong start because nobody else had coherent game-plans at the time. They weren’t confident in what they were trying to execute.

Once they started nailing down their fundamentals, they no longer played for random fights – unlike us.

Then when the meta shifted away from Cammile and Lissandra – our two main picks at the time – we had a recipe for disaster.

All of our wins were just about getting kills and forcing objectives. There wasn’t any sort of good macro moves or consistent performances.

Ultimately, we just didn’t improve like the other teams. At the start of the split we were just as good as anyone else, but very quickly fell behind.

Nowadays, we are directing our skirmishes towards achieving our common goals in-game. Each time fight is done because we want to get something off the back of it.

The easiest example is when fighting for a Dragon. If we must induce a team fight to secure it, we will focus our energy and presence on the bot side – and I will not take a risk up top because it won’t help us secure that objective.

Trick was a vital part of that change. I seriously wonder if we would have achieved our goals without him. He gives us a lot of confidence.

He brings a lot to the team. His in-game plans are always very good and his jungle pathing is fantastic. He’s one of those guys that always has a backup plan in his mind in case something changes, or if he himself wants to flip the script and surprise the opponent.

Because of him, we have sort of a safety net. All of us know that Trick won’t usually be one to fall behind or make big mistakes. Even in scrim reviews, he’s often the one coming up with the solutions for our problems.

It helps that the game is best played around mid and jungle at the moment. Our team works very well when he is communicating with us about how we should be playing when he’s preparing to make his move.

This meta also means you have to respect the map split if it happens. There is no margin for error when it does happen. A lot of games recently have been decided by top lane map splits, when one of the top laners ints.

Most people see the top lane as a survival lane, but it’s up to me to make it work. I have to manage my minion wave the right way, and I emphasize when I need help from Trick to prevent bad things from happening.

It’s quite similar to last year on Splyce in some ways. But here, the team plays more aggressively. I have more opportunities to make an impact through teamfights.

On Splyce, I had to proactively call for fights and objectives, and a lot of the time that lead to some misunderstandings. Even if the call was good, we just weren’t all on the same page sometimes. Because of that, games were often 40-minute fiestas.

There needed to be a more aggressive voice in the team.

In Schalke 04, we have those voices. Everyone is capable of coming up with their own plans, and we can quickly pick the one that makes the most sense to execute.

By the end of the Summer regular season, I was much happier than I was the year prior.

It’s nice being on a team that completely understands each other and feels the same way about how to approach the game. It just makes everything else come together a lot easier.

We have a style that works well, and that we are all happy to play.

2019 wasn’t perfect. There were games that I inted, and mistakes that I made. But I learned from them. It was a better year, all things considered, and that’s about as much as you can hope for.

There were definitely moments during the Summer when I thought I was bringing the team down with some of my performances. The team wasn’t even doing badly, but I stressed myself out thinking that I could be better.

I think that happened because I was stubborn or cocky in my approach. I expected to play well before the game started, but then I get caught off-guard and it was hard to recover.

Maybe my approach to laning wasn’t the best, and change was needed given that the game has changed over the years.

In the end, I changed my attitude.

I had to tell myself that I wasn’t better than my opponent before I had faced them. I have to respect them and focus on my own performance. Focus on improvement.

That could have gone very badly. If I didn’t see positive results from that change, I definitely could have gone into a negative spiral of self-doubt. Thankfully, it has worked out for me so far.

Now, we look ahead to the gauntlet.

Everything is falling into place nicely for us, and while there is still some stuff to work on, we think we can do well.

This year was better than last year, and I’m happy with that, but let’s see what else we can achieve while we’re here.

Adel Chouadria assisted with the creation of this article

Image Credit: Riot Games

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