From the Challenger Series to the League of Legends World Championship stage this week, Origen always have something to prove. And so far, they’re proving that they can contend for a World title.
Yesterday they pulled off an upset win over China’s top seed LGD Gaming, but that would have counted for naught if the team did not secure a victory today over the American side Team SoloMid, who have struggled so far in the competition. After another win, Origen now find themselves in a fight for the top spot in their group.
The victory over Team SoloMid may be a little bit sweeter for one member of Origen, Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider, who wore the black-and-white colors of the American side at last year’s Worlds event. But even he downplayed the win after the match.
“It feels relieving to beat TSM. We don’t consider them favorites in our group. We still respect them, but we don’t value them as highly as the other teams in the group,” Stückenschneider said. “So it’s a nice win but it’s a work win.” The jungler played a large part in shutting down his former team, participating in 50 percent of his team’s kills while staying alive the entire game.
After wins against China’s top team LGD Gaming and Team SoloMid, Origen look like contenders. But after LGD’s poor showing against KT Rolster today, some are tempering Origen enthusiasm with LGD Gaming’s poor play overall. Stückenschneider isn’t one of them.
“I think we’re still better than LGD anyway,” he said, even though he believes the Chinese team is “underperforming.”
“[LGD’s] pick and ban today was horrific so therefore their loss against KT was more natural than their loss against us,” he said. “Their picks against KT set them up for a really tough time.”
LGD Gaming were torn apart at the hands of the Korean team in their group, KT Rolster. In a game that was expected to be close, LGD Gaming never stood a chance right from the outset. Stückenschneider points to picking Varus against armor-stacking enemies and LGD jungler Zhu “TBQ” Yong-Quan’s poor Elise play as contributors to the loss.
Even so, KT Rolster showed superb form for the second straight day. With a 2-0 start, they will be the biggest obstacle between Origen and topping their group, or perhaps even surviving it. Origen will face the Korean team tomorrow, and while Stückenschneider has the playbook to beat them, executing it isn’t that easy.
“I can just sit here and recite every analyst out there that says: ‘Keep Score and Piccaboo out of your jungle,’” Stückenschneider said. “It’s not really about any specific strategy, it’s just about communicating well between lanes and having the right pick and ban.”
The KT Rolster jungler Go “Score” Dong-bin and support player Lee “Piccaboo” Jong-Beom are famous for their ability to roam together and apply pressure around the map, unlocking the carry potential of top lane superstar Kim “ssumday” Chan-ho. But Origen will be ready.
“KT have glaring weaknesses in both Nagne and Arrow, so I certainly think we can beat them,” he said.
A win over KT Rolster would put Origen in a fantastic position to gain qualification to the knockout stages and perhaps even top the group, but Stückenschneider isn’t getting ahead of himself just yet. “I think we can take number one,” he says, “but for me to stay humble I always give myself a 40 percent chance to make something happen so the odds are kind of stacked against you but not by that much so I can be confident but stay focused at the same time.”
Origen as a team have gone from the Challenger Series to defeating the number one seed from China and the number two seed from North America in the span of one year, a quite meteoric rise. Stückenschneider believes their success “is due to the personalities within the the team”
“We have veterans but they are eager veterans,” he explained. “Every one of us puts our hardest into scrims and into solo queue. It’s natural for a team who’s talented to be good, but it’s more about how good can you be, what your ceiling can be.”
That ceiling, he says, is as a world championship contender—but not this year.
“I think if we keep practicing and stay with this roster for 2016, we can be a top 4 contender at Worlds next year.”
Of course, if they keep up this form, it’s not hard to imagine them realizing that goal a full year in advance. It’s almost odd to hear a player look towards 2016 in the midst of the biggest tournament of the year, but in many ways that’s consistent with Origen’s attitude all year long. They didn’t believe they’d even make Worlds since they missed the first pro season and couldn’t earn any championship points towards qualifications, and attending it now is just a bonus in their long-term plan.
While their fans may now be aiming higher, Stückenschneider is keeping his feet on the ground.
“40 percent man, 40 percent! Our goals are not going to change, honestly. Getting out of groups has always been our goal when we qualified for Worlds and it still is now,” he said. “Whether we get first or second, we’ll see after the second stage of groups, but we’re still on course for reaching our goals.”
Origen will complete their first round of matches against KT Rolster tomorrow at 9AM ET. A win sees them take an outstanding 3-0 standing after the first four days while a loss to the favored Koreans would put them at 2-1 and still in the driver’s seat. After a few days break play will resume, with group D playing to conclusion on Saturday Oct. 10. On that day Origen will find out if they accomplish their goal at Worlds and advance from their group. So far, so good, but don’t get your hopes up too high. They still only have a 40 percent chance to advance. Right?
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr