In December, mid laner Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez left Fnatic after over three years in the organization to form his own team. It was the end of an era for a player at times considered the best mid laner in the world. He recruited a lineup of talented veterans around him and set out to bring Origen, an organization he built from the ground up, back into League of Legends’ top competition.
That’s a risky move considering how tough it is to win your way into the game’s top competition. You must survive a full season in the increasing competitive Challenger scene and either win the league or win a promotion series against an LCS team.
Today xPeke succeeded as Origen swept Copenhagen Wolves Academy in three straight games to win the Spring Challenger Series, guaranteeing advancement to the LCS in place of auto-relegated last-place Meet Your Makers.
Origen’s lineup reads like an all-star team. Flanking xPeke in the jungle is Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider, formerly of Team SoloMid. The top lane is manned by Fnatic teammate Paul “sOAZ” Boyer. In the bottom young up-and-coming talent Jesper “Niels” Svenningsen plays AD Carry with xPeke’s fellow Spaniard Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez beside him.
Mithy is proof that even the best challenger roster isn’t a lock to reach the LCS; he failed to make it as a member of a similar all-star lineup in Ninjas in Pyajamas before suffering a lengthy suspension due to toxicity. But Mithy, like many before him, was reinstated and has now earned a spot in the LCS.
Two other teams will have a shot to join Origen in the Promotion Tournament: the Copenhagen Wolves Academy squad Origen just beat, formerly LowLandLions, and Polish team Reason Gaming. The two will face relegated LCS teams Giants Gaming and ROCCAT to determine their future in the LCS.
Reason Gaming is an interesting case. They snuck into the Challenger playoffs after Dignitas EU was forced to relinquish its playoff position after two of its players were ruled two young to play. And they’ve made the most of it. Most expected Reason Gaming to fall out of the Challenger playoffs easily. But they gave Origen a run for their money in the semifinals before eliminating Gamers2 in a close 2-1 series, including a ridiculous come-from-behind victory in the final game of that series.
While it seems unlikely the Wolves Academy or Reason will advance past their promotion series and into the LCS like Origen, anything is possible when players’ careers are on the line. The Promotion Tournament is scheduled for April 24, after the LCS playoffs are complete.
While Reason and Wolves Academy may not make it, the EU LCS should be getting a whole lot more competitive with the addition of Origen and the return of some of Europe’s top talents to the league. Since they will not earn any Championship Points this season through reaching the playoffs, for Origen to win a spot at worlds. But with the talent on their roster and xPeke at the helm, it’s hard to count them out.