Origen and Fnatic duked it out in a long Grand Finals series that lasted all five games. Veteran top laner Paul "sOAZ" Boyer took a moment to talk to theScore eSports about facing off against against Heo "Huni" Seunghoon, competing in the Gauntlet and some of the Finals' defining picks, like Gangplank.
Going into this series, how high were your expectations for Origen?
We knew that Fnatic was a stronger team, but we also knew that we could put up a fight against them. We were not sure if we could take the best-of-five, but we knew we could go to a Game 5 at least. Eventually we could win, but it would probably be an unfavorable percentage for us, like a 60-40 in my opinion for them. But we still hoped that we would have a good day, and they would have a bad one, obviously.
How do you feel about the games today? Obviously you would prefer to win, but do you feel more positive or negative about the series?
I feel a bit bad because it was so close, but at the same time I feel good because it was so close. It just told us that we're actually a really good team, and we can put up a good fight against the strongest team in Europe right now.
Two of the biggest picks in the series were Gangplank and Lulu, and I would like to ask you about those specifically. First, on the Gangplank, what made you decide to pick it? It's obviously very strong, but was there something specifically useful about it against Fnatic?
I played some Gangplank in the past month, but I didn't think it was that good for some reason. We played Shen against Gangplank in our scrims, and they're trying to push on the bottom while we push on top to trade objectives and Gangplank was ultimating. At that point, we just couldn't push because we were way too low. At this point, I was thinking about us picking the champion.
One week before playing Fnatic, we went through scenarios for picks and bans and I felt I didn't have a good advantage for myself in terms of my picks against what they might play and within our team comps, so I decided to pick up Gangplank and Olaf. I practiced more Gangplank than Olaf. I felt that it was a strong pick, not specifically against Fnatic, but just overall.
You played Gangplank in conjunction with Varus in the first game. The synergy was surprisingly good. How did you come across this idea?
The objective of the team comp was more about the Corki and Varus. Those two picks are good because they have the same power spike at the same time. Corki gets strong with Trinity-Boots, while Varus at the same time builds Brutalizer, Last Whisper, and Lucidity Boots as well. Gangplank fit with them as well because he'll go for Lucidity Boots and Trinity, so we had a three-man power spike that is kind of strong. We can get free drakes really easily early game and try to snowball with it.
In regards to the Lulu, even though it was a mid lane pick mostly this series, you have a lot of experience playing it. Why do you feel it has become such a big pick again recently, as it was probably the most contested pick in both your final and the LPL finals earlier today?
I feel like Lulu is becoming a bit stronger than before due to the fact that teams are going much more for late game right now. With a good team against a good team in a normal game there are not going to be that many kills early, so it's most likely that the best late game setup is going to win. That's where Lulu comes from. Lulu-Kog'Maw and Lulu-Tristana are very good. There's obviously some picks you can choose against it, but you can manage to choose it against basically anything as long as you don't play a really bad early game.
There was a lot of pressure on the matchup between you and Huni. Were there any advantages you think you may have had over him, perhaps in your experience or anything like that?
In this series, my advantage against Huni was that he didn't really know the good picks against Gangplank. I don't know if it was a team decision or he decided to pick Lulu first game, but it's not that great. I could just split farm the entire map and be a lot stronger that game, so I think my advantage against Huni was that he had no idea how to play against the Gangplank. Aside from that, I don't think him or I had any particular advantage. I think in some series, the advantage will come from jungle. Today, we had a lot of high pressure jungle early game, which put a lot of pressure on the top side of the map, but no special advantage.
In the past on Fnatic you've had a big role in team communication. Would you say on Origen that you serve an important role in your team's comms?
I don't have a big role in the communication. We just all feed information to Mithy and Amazing. Amazing tends to do the early game calls. We're just going to tell him how our lanes are, if we need him, things like that. From all the information given, he's going to make a decision, like he will go top to cover in case there's a gank or he says "top play safe, and we'll do drake," early on. Mithy tends to do more of the mid-to-late game rotations about where we'll set up a path, where we're going to go for objectives like Blue or stuff like this. He'll decide where we set up slow pushes and where we rotate on the map.
In the first game, Origen seemed like a more cohesive unit in terms of rotating to the lanes and getting objective trades compared to some of your games in the past. Do you believe your team figured something out recently in communication or otherwise?
I think it's more about our team comps. In the past, we tended to play a lot of poke comps because we felt we were good at it, and it was very good in the meta. At some point, we just noticed that this didn't work always. They would just go for a late game team comp and push team comp like Tristana-Janna or Tristana-Thresh. Tristana would just trade objectives 24/7 until she had enough items. At this point, we would just lose the team fight and lose the game, so we can't always go for the same things. That's basically what we learned. We try to go for different playstyles overall.
What was your morale like in some of your losing games, and how did you make a strong comeback in Game 4?
In Game 4, there was a lot of chaos. A lot of it was around me *laughs*. We felt confident because Tristana got the farm that he wanted. Also, we had the drakes, which is really important for a late game composition like ours. We managed to get four dragons, and then we managed to get two Barons in a row. Then we managed to defend. We knew as long as we could defend, we would win at the point where Tristana is at full items and Lulu is at full items as well. Honestly, at that point Tristana and Lulu could just 2v5. We were just waiting for this exact moment. We tried to be patient and not die because it's really late, and there will be big death timers.
Since you now have to go through the Gauntlet to qualify for Worlds, how do you feel about your chances against the remaining teams?
I think we have very good chances. We lost both games against ROCCAT, so they are the hardest, but we improved in the last month, so I'd say that we have big chances to qualify. It is kind of annoying to play the Gauntlet, since we didn't play last Spring.
What do you think it is about ROCCAT that was or is challenging for Origen?
I remember the first game we played against ROCCAT, we tried to do a lot of early fights against them. I remember a Lee Sin. We lost a lot of early fights. I think if we play a more passive game, we should be better later. Against UoL, it's pretty much the same: don't fall into their chaotic game. We should be fine against them as well.
Last World Championship, you personally received some criticism for your play. Do you have any plans to make improvements this time around?
I don't really think much about these kinds of comments before tournaments. Before, I just really play my game. Last Worlds, I think I got criticized a lot for my picks, but I still think the picks were good. We just didn't play as a team at all. I've said it many times before, but the atmosphere on the team was really bad for the month leading up to Worlds. I was a bit down, but I still tried to focus on what I could. I think if we keep a good atmosphere in the team, and we just play our game, I will be fine, and I don't think people will criticize me that much. Obviously, there will be a better player than me, but that doesn't matter as much.
Would you say, now that the year has ended, that the separation of Fnatic has made the situation better for both you and xPeke and for Rekkles and YellOwStaR?
I think so, yeah. I think Fnatic right now is much more serious. They play really methodical. Before, we played more with our feelings. I think it has helped YellOwStaR a lot more with his style of calls. It was a big step for YellOw and Fnatic. For us, I think we learned a lot going through Challenger, qualifying for LCS, and playing this LCS season, so we just got the experience. For YellOwStaR, the team received changes in how they want to approach the game, and we are able to do what we want to do, basically.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.