Some of the best players in the world will converge at the League of Legends World Championship, in this player feature Jack Stewart highlights the journey for two unlikely participants: "Upset" and "Abbedagge".
Five years, six playoffs appearances, and one European final. Schalke 04 may never have made it to the international stage, but it’s safe to say the German football club had a competitive League of Legends stint that most esports organisations can only dream of.
Schalke 04 were the ultimate underdogs. They started their LoL journey by getting relegated down to Europe’s Challenger Series but persevered until they finally returned a year later. The organisation never had a large budget yet repeatedly managed to rebuild strong rosters after losing star players.
And, of course, there was the miracle run. One of the greatest moments and feel-good stories the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) has ever witnessed. In 2020, Schalke 04 were having a dismal year. The team failed to qualify for the Spring Playoffs and kicked off the summer with seven consecutive losses.
With nothing to lose, Schalke 04 began to play without fear and pick up wins to the point where they could still qualify for the playoffs - but only in four per cent of scenarios. Somehow, they overcame those remarkable odds and some of the strongest teams in the region to miraculously book their place in the top six.
Schalke 04’s true legacy lies in the elite players they developed...Elias "Upset" Lipp and Felix "Abbedagge" Braun".
Sadly, the miracle workers still narrowly missed out on qualifying for the World Championships - a recurring theme for the organisation over the years which makes the end of their LEC chapter all the more heartbreaking.
But some say that when one life ends, another begins.
Schalke 04’s true legacy lies in the elite players they developed. And it just so happens that just weeks after Schalke 04’s final game on the LEC stage, the two brightest talents the organisation ever produced, Elias “Upset” Lipp and Felix “Abbedagge” Braun, both qualified for the Worlds Championships for the first time.
The two German superstars will, metaphorically, fly the Schalke 04 flag one last time as they carry it onto one of the biggest stages in all of esports - their journeys to the top poetically embodying exactly what Schalke 04 represented.
Not an Upset
"Upset" has always had an abundance of talent. He was highly rated even when he made his LEC debut back in Summer 2018 as the only player Schalke 04 retained from their promotion-winning Challenger Series squad.
It was that season in which "Upset" would lead Schalke 04 to their first-ever European final. While the result and the Regional Gauntlet didn’t go his way, "Upset" had already established himself as one of the strongest Bot-laners in the region.
Yet, even he ended up on the receiving end of doubters' criticism as he failed to make Worlds year after year. "Upset" watched his Worlds hopes slipped away in the regionals once more in 2018 before his big move to Origen ended in calamity.
Still, his reputation as a sensational AD Carry remained. This year, he was handed not only a lifeline but a career-defining opportunity as the replacement for legendary Bot-laner Martin “Rekkles” Larsson at Fnatic in the 2020 off-season.
"Upset" performed extraordinarily throughout the year yet there were fears he would fall short once more. A disastrously early exit from the Spring playoffs sowed seeds of doubt as Fnatic took big risks in the middle of the season with Gabriel "Bwipo" Rau role-swapping to the jungle and the signing of rookie Adam "Adam" Maanane.
Despite almost failing to qualify, Fnatic smashed the playoffs. Fnatic climbed all the way through the loser’s bracket with thrilling five-game wins against both Team Vitality and a surprisingly strong Misfits squad. However, the real challenge was soon to follow.
This year, he was handed not only a lifeline but a career-defining opportunity as the replacement for legendary Bot-laner Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
"Upset" was fingertips away from finally claiming a Worlds spot but standing in his way were G2 Esports and the man he replaced, "Rekkles". It was Fnatic against their oldest rivals and "Upset" against the player he had long endured comparisons to, all with Europe’s final Worlds seed on the line.
It couldn’t have been a bigger occasion or a better way for the former Schalke 04 man to finally have his moment. After five gruelling games, "Upset" conquered his demons, surpassed his legendary rival, and finally proved himself as a world-class Bot-laner. The German played out of his mind in that series, picking up 13 kills in Game 2 - the most recorded in an LEC playoff game this summer.
And that was a level "Upset" consistently maintained. Fnatic played 22 games, a lot more than any other team, yet "Upset" still managed to secure the highest number (nine) of Kills Deaths Assists (KDA) with an astonishing average of just 1.2 deaths per game.
"Upset" has finally lived up to his potential and he will surely get even better by squaring off with Chinese and South Korean teams.
Out of the blue
While it has been a slow burn for "Upset" career-wise, "Abbedagge" has skyrocketed to stardom. The German Mid-laner secured a move to 100 Thieves in North America’s League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) during the mid-season break earlier this year after his phenomenal performance at Schalke 04.
"Abbedagge" joined "Upset" at Schalke 04 ahead of the 2019 season, his first time playing in a major league. The team went on to finish third in the Summer playoffs, but despite that, "Abbedagge" failed to stand out. The mid lane is, of course, a very important and impactful role but the German seemed to get lost in the shuffle - he was shy both in and out of game.
Moving into 2020, the casters began to mention the rumours they were hearing of "Abbedagge" shining in scrims but those performances were not translating into official games.
That was until later that summer, when "Abbedagge" starred in the aforementioned miracle run. All of a sudden, he was stepping up and taking charge of matches with jaw-dropping plays. Finally, "Abbedagge" had unlocked his confidence and unleashed his true potential.
One year later, his explosiveness earned him a big-money move to the LCS for a rumoured release fee of €1 million ($1.2m). "Abbeddage" hit the ground running and all of sudden, 100 Thieves found themselves top of the standings. "Abbedagge" fit in effortlessly as he paired superbly with Jungler Can "Closer" Celik - who he had previously teamed with in Turkey - and also helped enable superstar Top-laner Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho.
100 Thieves finally had the talented Mid-laner the organisation had been crying out for... "Abbedagge" recorded the highest KDA (4.5) of all LCS Mid-laners during the summer.
100 Thieves finally had the talented Mid-laner the organisation had been crying out for after both Tanner “Damonte” Damonte and Tommy "Ryoma" Le disappointed in the spring. "Abbedagge" recorded the highest KDA (4.5) of LCS Mid-laners during the summer before he registered the highest average assists (7.1) for a non-support player during the LCS Championships.
While the team dipped in form towards the end of the regular season, 100 Thieves dusted themselves off in time for the LCS Championships to lift the trophy for the first time in the organisation’s history. "Abbedagge" had firmly squashed any talk of him being a choker or unable to perform on stage. Within his first LCS split, he reached his first final and won his first major trophy.
Both "Abbedagge" and "Upset" performed tremendously throughout the season but their biggest challenge is still to come.
Succeeding on the Worlds stage and proving they belong with the elite would be the perfect tribute and goodbye to Schalke 04, allowing the organisation to finally say they had even a slight impact on the most prestigious tournament in all of esports.
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