A chance to start over always has a hint of appeal. After a disappointing 2014 World Championship showing, Enrique "xPeke" Cedeño Martínez left Fnatic, a team he’s been with since May of 2011, and chose to start his own brand at Origen.
The team wasn’t all new, as he brought top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer along with him. Both solo laners found out change is good when they nearly managed to best their old roots in the 2015 EU LCS Playoff final against Fnatic. Despite being third seed, if Fnatic are the favorites of Europe, Origen are the undisputed second place.
With a tough group, few have predicted they’ll make it far, but their chances aren’t hopeless. xPeke and sOAZ could find themselves in the same spot they were last year, but it’s impossible to take away from Origen’s accomplishments.
The road so far
After announcing the formation of Origen, xPeke told fans that he knew at the time which players he wanted. Following the expiration of his ban from competitive play, Alfonso "mithy" Aguirre joined Origen as support. He had come from Lemondogs the year before, and his reputation preceded him. Jesper “Niels” Svenningsen joined him in the bottom lane as a rookie AD carry about whom praises were already written.
xPeke also revealed the addition of German jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider, previously of Copenhagen Wolves and Team SoloMid. xPeke added that he trusted all three of them completely.
Not long after, sOAZ joined the team officially. Ladder watchers had spotted him playing with the Origen ranked team beforehand, and his addition following his departure from Fnatic was expected. Many criticisms had surrounded sOAZ’s performance at the 2014 World Championship in particular after their disappointing second loss to OMG.
When four established figures joined the European Challenger Series, it was with mixed expectations. The Ninjas in Pyjamas roster with a similar quantity of big names had had high hopes to qualify for the European LCS in 2014 and had failed to make the cut. Carlos "ocelote" Rodríguez had previously left his own flagship organization, SK Gaming, and had no success with his Gamers2 team before he stepped down from a starting position.
Still, sOAZ and xPeke had achieved legendary status and maintained glimmers of high form even when many conceded they had not performed the best recently. Amazing came from a successful period in North America. mithy had turned Lemondogs around in 2013. At least in the Challenger Series, Origen were expected to dominate.
Origen lost two games in their Challenger Series: one to LowLand Lions, and one to Reason Gaming in the playoffs. They had a few hiccups in strategy, but otherwise overpowered the opposition.
Especially with two losses, no one quite knew how Origen would perform in the European LCS. The team have all attested that they set a conservative goal of making top six Summer LCS and attending the Playoffs. Caster Martin “Deficio” Lynge remembers Origen’s entry into the LCS as one of his best memories this split.
“Okay, this team stomped through the Challenger Scene, but did they have any competition? Are they really that good, or is it just weaker teams that they're facing? They came in, and after three weeks they just shut us up completely. They destroyed every single game. It was such a powerful performance from them. That was a big eye-opener.”
I personally remember the second game of the first week of the split between Origen and H2K. Niels in particular stood out on Vayne, and Origen made it clear that they had designed the team to give him the resources to succeed. They simply ran over H2K.
Still, I wasn’t incredibly impressed with Origen until later on. Many began parroting the mantra that “Origen are the brawn team; Origen overpower in mechanics, but have no sense of strategy.” I stopped saying that when Origen faced Unicorns of Love at the start of Week 3 and took advantage of the multi-Tear of the Goddess strategy much better than most teams had up until that point by understanding power spikes.
It was easy to see where flaws in Origen’s strategy stood out. Origen became overwhelmed in 1-4s with sOAZ occasionally pushing out the wrong lanes or the team grouping too long away from objectives. Amazing occasionally got caught out. Some of their drafting didn’t appear as clean as it could have been. They struggled more than H2K in lane swaps initially and lost Barons to Fnatic.
Perhaps because of their roots in starting from scratch to try to find something better, Origen seemed to understand the concept of necessary change better than other teams. They tried a wide variety of compositions. For example, sOAZ brought Fizz to Europe before other top laners. Globals became a boon. They played slower or faster games.
Origen never quite grasped lane swaps fully, but they could adapt to other meta changes quickly. Amazing and mithy began roaming as a duo more often. Their drafting tightened up. sOAZ took a handle on Gangplank and his counters before other European top laners and ended the season with the best Gangplank performances internationally.
Especially in playoffs, Origen looked like a different team. The synergy between Amazing and mithy meant the jungle belonged to Origen. sOAZ improved his impact over time. Going into the EU LCS finals, a few predicted Fnatic might lose a game to “Fnatic Black.”
The first game of the European LCS finals stands out as likely the crispest performance by a European team all summer. Origen dove properly, overwhelmed Huni, and abused mid game Trinity Force power spikes to amass leads. They then out-rotated Fnatic to roll them out of their own base and take a quick game. Following the loss, Fnatic jungler Kim "Reignover" Yeujin confessed the team had expected to at least lose a game, but that they had not expected the game to be that one-sided.
Despite a powerful first performance, Origen didn’t close the series. They lost the next two games in a row, won the fourth after keeping patience in a scaling situation, but ultimately lost the fifth. Origen had taken the previously undefeated Fnatic to a five game series.
A near win-sadly didn’t give Origen a spot at Worlds. They still had to run the gauntlet, and they were expected to stomp. A close series against ROCCAT had many second-guessing, but strong Gangplank performances still pulled them through. The final lap against Unicorns of Love was a mere formality, and Origen secured the third seed at the World Championship.
The state of the team
|Objective||Rate||EU LCS regular season max|
|First Blood||56%||67% (FNC)|
|First Dragon||78%||78% (OG)|
|First Tower||78%||83% (H2K)|
|First Baron||72%||83% (FNC)|
Origen had surprisingly low First Blood rates in the regular season for a team that simply over-powered their opposition. Still, when they did get First Blood they did so earlier than Fnatic. Origen focused much more on dragons than either Fnatic or H2K, and they have a higher dragon control rate in wins for all their games of summer than any other team representing the five major regions at Worlds at 79%.
Arguably, Origen rely a lot on snowballing off dragon fights. In losses, they average a 30% dragon control late, significantly lower than the rate they average in wins. If Origen don't get control of dragon area, they might have less success.
Across the board, Origen average relatively low CS leads at ten minutes, again undermining the idea that they simply over power their opponents in lane. Most of their gold leads may come off kills in early skirmishes or dragon fights.
When I call Origen a "jungle-centric" team, I don't mean they funnel resources into Amazing and focus on him as a carry. In fact, he averages a team gold percentage lower than Europe's average in his role. Most gold goes either to Niels or sOAZ in the top lane of late. Rather, the successes of Origen are often driven through plays made in the jungle: catches, skirmishes, five-on-fives instigated by mithy and Amazing working together.
With the addition of carry top picks like Gangplank, Origen have moved toward more top carry styles in Playoffs and Regionals, but Niels still fits well within Europe's strategies. Niels often plays for laning phase or mid game, favoring stronger picks like Corki and Sivir in lane. European LCS teams have favored the likes of Tristana for her turret taking potential, and Niels has played her, but her mid game power trough often runs counter to Origen's preferred styles.
Because of Niels' power for the team, Lulu also features as a big pick for Origen. sOAZ has a history of Lulu play, and xPeke's struggles in Playoffs and Regionals might mean he's best suited to play utility. Even so, perhaps he'll perform better as assassins become a larger part of the meta.
In the past, Amazing has been known for more aggressive jungle picks. With mithy and Amazing taking an increasingly active role in Origen's early game, it could also behoove them to set Amazing up with more gold for jungle duels.
Overall, Origen have mastered the art of the "triple threat" composition better than many other teams internationally. They're strong at varying their compositions to allocate gold in different ways. Globals and splitting pressure has also been a strong strategy for teams featuring xPeke and sOAZ. With Rek'Sai, Gangplank, and Twisted Fate, Origen have fallen back on globals quite frequently.
Sometimes Origen will have sloppier games with more scaling picks, or if they don't set up properly for objectives. Origen average the earliest first tower rate of teams at the tournament, meaning they're likely to take down turrets early to roam. One way to tackle Origen may be to confine mithy to lane by keeping turrets up and prevent him from setting up for dragon.
Outlook for Worlds
Origen's group is bleak, but not as hopeless as H2K's. KT's heavy roaming early game is easier to counter by keeping Piccaboo in lane. In the mid game, it's easier to catch Piccaboo out and make picks. KT in the past have made enough mistakes for a team like Origen to punish with their multi-Trinity Force compositions. Across the board, the talent differences between Origen and KT are not insurmountable.
LGD Gaming are also punishable in the mid game, and Amazing is a strong enough jungler to abuse LGD's weakest player. By keeping areas around mid lane warded, Origen can countergank LGD well and secure more dragons. Origen have to act before imp free farms too much in the late game.
Against Team SoloMid, Origen should have a relatively easy time. Their talent allocation is strong, and they should have free reign of dragon control with TSM often not moving on a first dragon until as late as 20 minutes into the game.
Expectations for Origen to make it out of groups is low, but they're still likely a top eight team at the World Championship. Third seed punished them, but even if Origen don't make it out of the Group Stage, mithy has his own goals and is happy to be able to partake in the international scrim environment as he did at the 2013 World Championship.
"Last time, I got my ass handed to me in scrims, and that really motivated me a lot to improve myself as a player. I want to do the same thing this time," mithy said. Origen have already shown they're capable of adapting and learning this year. I'm sure we'll see them change still more by the end of their tenure at Worlds.
xPeke made his team to enact change in his own career, and change has become one of Origen's greatest strengths.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.