Image credit: LoL Esports
Jungler Berk "Gilius" Demir is returning to Schalke 04 Esports' League of Legends European Championship (LEC) roster for the 2021 season. The team announced the news on their social media accounts, ending the player's free agency before it started.
The deal, set to last for the 2021 season, allows Gilius to rejoin the lineup and reunite with mid laner Felix "Abbedagge" Braun and head coach Dylan Falco in their attempt to qualify to the World Championship. The group fell short of Worlds qualification this year as they lost to MAD Lions in the fourth seed deciding match 3-1, but their fight on the way was meritorious.
Gilius and Schalke 04 Esports emerge from a 2020 campaign where, although they failed to make it to the 2020 World Championship, they made a lasting mark in Europe as they recovered from a 1:10 record to 8:10. Their influence on the rankings on their way to qualifying to the LEC summer playoffs was undeniable.
As they completed their miracle run from dead last to playoff contender (dubbed #S04MiracleRun on Twitter), they pulled ahead of Origen and Misfits Gaming, then beat Team Vitality and Excel Esports to the final available playoff spot in a Week 9 thriller. By beating MAD Lions in their final regular season game, they also ensured that Rogue claimed a direct Worlds seed. In addition, they forced Fnatic in an awkward do-or-die position before the end of the season, with Fnatic owing their playoff (and Worlds) qualification to a 2-0 final week with victories over Excel Esports and SK Gaming.
Although Schalke 04's resurgence was a team effort, Gilius was the spark that ignited it as his positive attitude allowed his teammates to recover morale, and as his constant duo queues with mid laner Abbedagge allowed the latter to flourish during LEC games as much as he did during scrims - to the extent that G2's AD carry, Luka "Perkz" Perković, labeled him 'Fakerdagge' during a broadcast interview.
The current whereabouts of top laner Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu, AD carry Matúš "Neon" Jakubčík and support Han "Dreams" Min-kook are currently unknown, but Schalke 04 would be hard-pressed to either re-sign the players or find fitting upgrades at their positions. In the current market, where Odoamne's services would be in high demand following Barney "Alphari" Morris's rumored departure to Team Liquid, that could prove difficult should matters escalate into a bidding war.