At the start of the split, I wrote that anything less than first would be a disappointment for both H2k-Gaming and Origen. Well, here it is. One team will end up disappointed after Saturday’s match.
Following the initial roster lock, H2K vs. Origen seemed like the logical pick for the finals. Both teams had a clear sense of identity, or one that could be easily built. H2K spent the split battling G2 and Team Vitality for first place, but Origen dragged their feet, to the point where they now look like the weakest team in the EU LCS Semifinals.
On Oracle’s Elixir, Origen sit solidly middle of the pack in all metrics — mirroring their league standing — except for stats related to neutral objectives and turrets. Origen are second to last in the European LCS for first turret kill rate, only taking the first turret in 28% of their games. By comparison, H2K have taken the turret first in 72% of their games, putting them at the head of the pack.
Origen fare much better with neutral objectives. They're in the top three for first dragon, first Baron and dragon control. Last year, the team subscribed to the theory that even if they didn’t secure an early dragon, they could snowball their bottom lane off an early dragon fight. Their dragon rate reflects Origen's general ability to control 2v2s and their emphasis on picking up late game insurance through stacking the buff.
H2K, meanwhile, sit in the bottom four for first dragon, and are fifth in dragon control overall. It’s clear they don’t put the same emphasis on dragon, and if Origen want to snowball off a teamfight over it, they won’t find the contest they want.
Overall, Origen haven't adapted well to the meta this season. They keep on trying to make the style that found them success at the World Championship work. Too late, they've tried to shift their focus from neutral objectives to turrets and build for team fights, allowing opposing teams to take turret advantages in swaps or in pushing out waves, and their mid game positioning mistakes cost them even more.
Origen's focus on neutral objectives doesn't always hurt them. They are tied for second for Baron control, at 67%. In the last matchup between Origen and H2K, they baited H2K into a disadvantageous Baron fight using Gangplank. A high Baron control rate means that Origen can swing a lead if necessary. The problem is that often they've been too far behind for the swing to matter. Plus, their fixation with Baron has caused them to stumble at crucial moments where the team splits over the Baron wall.
A truly powerful Origen, instead of continuing to hone teamfight power around AD carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen, would either focus on lane swapping and rotating Zven to mid early, so his skill could be used to threaten the Tier 1 turret, or they would give him early power-spike picks and focus more on turret dives and Teleports with Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider. In standard lanes, teams can force skirmishes over turrets with deep vision to guard their flanks. This is something Origen often lacks.
By his own admission on the analyst desk this Sunday, Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez has roamed less to secure deep vision with Amazing this split. With fewer deep wards, it’s harder to get easy control of bot lane for dives, which means Origen haven't gone for skirmishes or snowballs consistently.
Instead, mithy has focused much more on the 2v2 when Origen don’t swap, and trying to get Zven ahead through brute force. Setting up freedom for the jungler to dive or look to gank may be an option for Origen to explore to prepare for semifinals.
The main issue they face with H2K, however, is H2K's versatility in lane assignments. Using scouting vision, H2K have often gotten a 1v2. In a 2v2 scenario, Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou focuses much more on contesting farm and winning the laning phase. This is the true strength of H2K in that, regardless of their opening lane assignment, the early game will always be a choice between two difficult options for their opponent.
It probably is best for Origen to opt into a lane swap scenario against H2K. Even if they fall behind in the swap, they can look to force mid early and skirmish or teamfight. If, instead of aiding in the swap, Amazing preps mid lane vision, this not only restricts Yoo "Ryu" Sangook’s potential to roam, but makes it easier to force fights after a swap.
Though H2K have been the master of avoiding fights, at least relative to their European peers, they still haven’t managed to be totally consistent in this aspect. Even after winning lane swaps and amassing gold leads, H2K have fallen prey to Baron baits. Origen’s poor communication around Baron notwithstanding, they still managed an initial comeback fight in their previous match against H2K. If Origen practice this approach, there’s less they have to change, but H2K will probably expect it after their last best-of-one.
This week’s semifinals favor Origen much more than the regular season's games. Origen have had time to observe H2K, and more tank picks in the top lane have drifted into the meta. Though Paul “sOAZ” Boyer has played carry styles in the past, he has openly admitted he prefers a utility role, which plays well with the strengths of Zven and mithy. With the reintroduction of Azir, some of Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage’s favorite picks have also trickled back in, like Varus and the recently buffed Orianna. This makes it much easier for PowerOfEvil to start, and for the team to use Enrique "xPeke" Cedeño Martínez only as a backup if things grow dire.
In an alternate universe, we would have an Origen focused on snowballing a 2v2 by prioritizing and forcing skirmishes over turrets, rather than dragons. Their communication wouldn’t lag, and they would've become proficient in lane swaps much earlier. Baron control would be a trump card rather than a crutch with a faulty rubber sole, prone to falling off.
Our alternate Origen would have matched up well with H2K. The latter have been surprised by some teamfights, occasionally committing with their AD carry positioned way too far forward. Beyond that, alternate Origen would be able to take advantage of some of H2K’s greatest weaknesses around Baron and mid-to-late game teamfights. Maybe this Origen could have won the split.
Even in that universe, H2K would likely have played a 1-3-1 or 1-2-2 better than Origen. Last year, Origen always seemed to stall out or linger too long with their three person pushes. H2K’s lead from swaps still would have been difficult to overcome. This series would have been a close one.
Sadly, Origen never became the team we all hoped they would. It took too long for them to recover from their communication flaws and for PowerOfEvil to be comfortable with his role. Origen’s series against Unicorns of Love showed they have made some improvements integrating POE, but numerous, obvious individual mistakes revealed how unpolished they still are. We can see the glimmer of a team that would have made the EU LCS Finals, but it’s hidden under dust and grime.
Origen vs. H2k-Gaming could have made an excellent finals, but for now we’ll have to settle for an easy semifinal win for H2K.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.