The Schalke Jungler sat down with us during Week 1 of the LEC.
The League of Legends European Championship (LEC) returned last week with thousands excited to see the new-look teams in action for the first time. There has been a lot of hype around the staggering amount of new rookies taking to the stage as well as the long-awaited return of Greek ADC Konstantinos-Napoleon "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou after his three years away from full-time gaming.
However, there’s another old face who has returned to the league in FORG1VEN’s new jungler at Schalke, Erberk "Gilius" Demir. Both players are known as big, polarising characters who never shy away from saying how they feel. That led many LEC fans to question how Schalke’s new line-up would fit together as a team but Gilius told GG Intel that there are no issues:
“The team atmosphere is good, playing with FORG1VEN is pretty chill. I think, I didn't expect it to be like that but he's really chill and we get along well.” The two of them share even more in common as both will be playing with a chip on their shoulder this season. FORG1VEN will want to prove that he can once again become one of the best ADCs in Europe while Gilius will also want to prove that he can compete at a high level.
The German spent a year away from the LEC and slowly clawed his way back up to the top. Gilius played in Turkey before competing in Germany’s regional league which he says he much preferred:
“Turkey didn't go that well, I didn't feel so happy there. The competition was a lot lower than what I used to play against so it didn't last long. In the German league I actually felt pretty happy, it was a new challenge. There, I think I performed really well in scrims and the games so people saw my face again and I was relevant in the scene again. Then I got tryouts in Schalke and that's how I got myself back up into the LEC.”
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In a video released on Schalke’s YouTube channel, former Worlds finalist coach Dylan Falco revealed that the organisation had the first four members of its squad figured out pretty early and then held jungler tryouts in December. There, Gilius performed quite well and Falco says he checked all the right boxes:
“The most important thing for me going into the season was that our jungler was very good mechanically and willing to take risks. From watching the World Championships, the teams that were successful had very creative and aggressive plans for the early game and that's something I know Gilius was very good at before. I think with strong coaching staff and players around him, he could do very well.”
The potential is certainly there in this Schalke squad but the roster had a difficult opening week with tough games against the much-improved line-ups of Excel Esports and Origen. Origen, in general, appear to be a level above most of the LEC’s teams after dominating Fnatic on Day One but Excel was there for the taking. Schalke found themselves with a gold-lead of just under 5k at the 35-minute mark but a couple of misplayed teamfights lost them the game. It was a result that frustrated Gilius as he said it was the smallest of margins that cost them the game:
“I think the deciding factor was not taking the Yasuo Windwall and Braum shield into account when teamfighting. Many times we'd engage, they'd put up their shields and that meant our carries didn't do any damage. And I think sometimes Odoamne engaged too far away from our carries as well. I think we should have discussed how we wanted to teamfight this game in more detail and that was why we lost I think.”
Despite that, Gilius admitted that Schalke’s performance in that game was “better than expected” as the squad is still trying to gel: “The process is going a bit slower. We are still finding ourselves and how we play with each other, it's a fresh team so it's going to take some time you know but I think playing stage games will help our synergy. Preseason scrims were fine, against the top teams we struggled a bit but against the middle of the pack we did pretty well.”
As an organisation, Schalke has year after year had to rebuild the majority of its squad. Last year, the org didn’t qualify for the Spring Playoffs but then came third in the Summer. While Gilus won’t want to miss out on the top six, his eyes are set further into the future:
“Expect us to build a bit slower towards the end of the season, we'll just try to make Playoffs and then we'll go from there. My goal is that in the Summer Split we'll be a very strong team, we'll be ready and get to Worlds. Spring Split for me is about getting to Playoffs and fighting together. In Spring we just need to find ourselves and learn how to work well together but for Summer, I want to be very competitive.”
Earning his way to Worlds will mean a lot to Gilius. He competed there once before back in 2014 with SK Gaming but only as a last-minute substitution for Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen who was banned from the first three games of the tournament for using racially inappropriate language while playing on the Taiwan server.
On top of that, when Gilius last competed in the LEC back in 2018, he was part of the very strong Team Vitality roster that made it to Worlds. However, his strong early game prowess was no longer as effective and before the international tournament, he was dropped for Polish jungler Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek.
The German jungler has fought tooth and nail to return to the top level of competitive play. However, with the competition fiercer in Europe than ever before, this is the season that Gilius will have to reach his peak if he wants to take Schalke to the World Championships for the first time ever.
Images via Riot Games