Schalke took down Team Vitality with a 3-1 series victory. They entered as the favorite to win the match, and lived up to that billing.
They still face long odds when it comes to beating the likes of G2 Esports, but this is a team that cannot be underestimated.
Vitality started game one with a new strategy, picking Karthus for Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro. The idea behind this was that he would rotate between the jungle and mid lane, sharing the farm and experience with Lee “Mowgli” Jae-ha.
It’s an interesting concept, but Vitality never even got to attempt it.
The team went for the invade at level one but Schalke turned the play around and flanked Vitality, putting them between a rock and a hard place. Elias “Upset” Lipp walked away with a triple kill, sealing Vitality’s fate before the first minions spawned.
The bottom lane was done and Schalke still got the better of the other lanes. Jiizuke tried to protect his teammates, but that move allowed Felix “Abbedagge” Braunto to take over the top lane and even chase Mowgli in the jungle.
Six minutes into the game, Schalke already had six kills and the important pieces for their first items.
Knowing that they were out of options, Vitality started trying to pick a fight. The best way to do this was isolating players away from Upset and taking them out before he could respond. It worked one time, but that wasn’t nearly enough to turn things around.
Schalke took the recently spawned baron and closed the game.
Vitality went back to a traditional composition in game two. Mowgli invaded the enemy jungle but was otherwise fairly passive.
By comparison, Schalke came into the game with an aggressive plan.
In the regular season, Schalke was known to start slow and get active in the mid game. This time however, the squad wanted to fight early and put pressure on Vitality.
Schalke focused their efforts on the bottom and middle lanes.
Abbedage took over the mid lane and used his advantage to create pressure in other lanes. Vitality focused its attention into the top lane and picked on Andrei “Odoamne” Pasc. They scored kills, but just didn’t get enough out of them to overcome Schalke’s team fight superiority.
Schalke secured the first baron and pushed all three lanes at the same time. They took three inhibitors as they got ready for the second baron. Vitality chased them through the jungle but Abbedage turned the fight around.
The two teams collided, with the two mid laners clearing the field. The fight came down to a one-on-one between Abbedagge and Jiizuke, with Abbedagge coming out on top. He dusted himself off after the skirmish, marched into the base, and took the win for his team.
Game three was a wild one compared with the previous two. This time, Vitality decided to group early and play the map instead of going for a traditional laning phase.
Vitality found the fights they needed to break the game open and get ahead of Schalke for the first time in the series. Vitality’s performance was not perfect though, as the team made several mistakes that Schalke punished.
Messy, lengthy team fights defined this series. Both sides were over-committed to the chaotic state of the game. In game three, the chaos happened to work in Vitality’s favor.
The final fight of the game took place in a small corner in the jungle. Vitality aced Schalke but only two members survived the skirmish. Powered up with the baron buff, Vitality took the nexus and secured a second chance in the series.
Vitality locked in Garen and Yuumi for game four, a combination popularized by Fnatic and recently used by Rogue to defeat Splyce. The duo in the bottom lane allowed Vitality to keep the gold even for much of the game.
Vitality once again picked on Odoamne but this time Schalke was prepared to defend their top laner. Schalke went on offense from there and scored kill after kill.
Despite a small 1,000 gold difference, Schalke had 11 kills more than Vitality and three dragons of their own. Abbedagge on Qiyana was the difference-maker in the messy fights, bringing effective and precise engages. He jumped in and out, killing multiple enemies in the process.
Schalke got its hands on the baron buff, and another sloppy skirmish ended with four Vitality players dead. Schalke pulled themselves together and pushed in an organized fashion. Abbedagge carried the team through the mid game and Upset pulled them to the finish line.
Schalke took the series 3-1 and are now moving to round two where they will face Rogue. Unfortunately, Vitality’s season is now over as the team doesn’t have enough championship points to qualify for the regional finals.