Crowning of a New Champion
Four months ago, G2 Esports and Origen were in opposite positions than they are coming into the EU LCS Spring Finals on Sunday. G2 Esports were the young team no one was sure of and Origen were the superstar team ready to win their first LCS title. Now Origen are the team no one is sure of and G2 is the team full of young stars on the cusp of an LCS title. But before talking about the now, we have to talk about how we got here.
After almost two years of trying to get in, G2 Esports finally made it into the EU LCS through the Summer Promotion tournament. Not wanting to just be apart of the LCS, G2 acquired Kim “Trick” Gang-yun (former jungle sub for CJ Entus) and Kim “Emperor” Jin-hyun (former ADC for Team Dragon Knights) before the start of the split. Along with Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek (former Unicorns of Love jungler) and rookies Luka “PerkZ” Perkovi? and Glenn “Hybrid” Doornenbal, many pegged G2 to place in the middle of the pack, with a good shot at reaching playoffs, but nothing more.
Since G2 Esports came into the Spring Split as the #3 seed from the Challenger Series, a spot in the Finals seemed more like a glimpse into Ocelote’s dreams than a real possibility. Because G2 made changes right before the split started, it was hard to predict how their new roster would work when they all actually played together. Perkz and Hybrid were both rookies, who while impressive in the Challenger Series, were both unproven on the professional stage. Kikis had had some success in the EU LCS before, but that was as a jungler and now he was transferring over to the top lane. And Trick and Emperor were not only both moving to a new country, they didn’t speak the same language as the rest of their team. With all these questions surrounding G2, it’s no wonder people were surprised to see them never relinquish hold on first place throughout the split.
Now people might have had questions about G2 Esports coming into the split, but it was G2 who had the right answers all split long. Kikis’s move to the top lane panned out better than anyone could have thought. He’s shown great ability on tanks and has worked well with the rest of his team to make plays. It can even be argued that he is already a better top laner than he was a jungler. Both Korean imports have also paid off huge to the success of G2. Through his aggressive style and ability to control the jungle, Trick was able to earn the title of Most Valuable Player for the split. Emperor was allowed to be as crazy as he wanted, and while it did sometimes get him into trouble he still played an important role on the team. Emperor’s lane mate Hybrid showed that he was one of the best team fighting supports in Europe with his amazing Braum play during the split. Finally we get to the man who’s become one of the biggest names in Europe in a quick period of time, Perkz. Perkz burst onto the scene this split with his in your face play style, and ability to control the enemy mid laner. In one split he has already been called one of, if not the best mid laners in Europe, and has a Rookie of the Split award to show for it.
With all of these successes, G2 Esports was able to finish in first place for the regular split and earned themselves a bye into the semi-finals of the playoffs. After watching the quarter-finals from their gaming house, G2 had to take on Fnatic in the semi-finals. While Fnatic were able to win a pretty convincing Game 2, one game doesn’t win a series, and G2 went on to win the series 3–1. By beating Fnatic, G2 were able to lock in their spot for the 2016 EU LCS Spring Finals, where they will face a team who experienced a very different journey to the Finals.
Unlike G2 Esports, Origen were coming into the Spring Split with hype worthy of the world stage. At the Season 5 World Championship two months prior, Origen became only the third western team to make a semi-finals since Season 1 (the others being Fnatic in Seasons 3 & 5). Then one month later, Origen won IEM San Jose, not dropping a single game in either of their series. Of course like G2 Esports, Origen wanted to make sure they were prepared for the future. Before IEM San Jose, Origen signed Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage to rotate with Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez in the mid lane as a part of their new 6 man roster. With an upgrade objectively in the mid lane, along with retaining the rest of their Worlds semi final roster in Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen, and Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez, Origen looked poised to dominate EU and end up in the EU LCS Finals once again.
Now while Origen ended up where everyone thought they would be, their journey to Rotterdam has not been as smooth as predicted. During the regular season, against the teams in the bottom four of the standings, Origen was 8–0. This showed that they were definitively better than every team not in the playoffs. However against other playoff teams, Origen were only a combined 3–7, with 6 of their losses coming against the top three teams in Europe, G2 Esports, H2K, and Vitality. Going into the playoffs with a winning record against only one other team in it, is not usually what a potential finalist does. Though based on watching Origen’s games from the regular season it’s not hard to see why their record was the way it was.
In many games during the split there were obvious team issues taking place for Origen. Amazing and sOAZ would go for a turret dive against the enemy top laner where they should easily pick up an early kill. Instead they would end up not juggling the turret aggro correctly leading to unneeded deaths. In another situation Zven might go to clear a side lane, and instead of waiting for him to clear it, the rest of Origen would start a fight somewhere else. This would lead to Zven winding up late to the team fight, and Origen losing as a result of it. By the end of the split though, Origen did look to be getting their ship back on track. An unexpected illness to PowerOfEvil led to the return of xPeke for the final two weeks of the split. With xPeke back in the line up, Origen started to look more like their old selves, even when PowerOfEvil played in the last game of the split. In the final two weeks of the split, Origen managed to go 4–0 (with xPeke playing three games), to finish the regular season in 4th place.
Because of their 4th place finish, Origen ended up facing a struggling Unicorns of Love team in the first round of the playoffs. In what was not the cleanest series for either side, Origen swept Unicorns of Love in three games to move onto the semi-finals against H2K. H2K had come into the playoffs as one of the favorites to win the whole thing, but Origen used their better team fighting to eventually beat them in a five game series. For Origen, being able to win those two series meant that they had a chance to make all of their struggles mean something. They could take everything they learned as a team this past split, and turn it into their first LCS title as a team.
Now enough about the story, let’s get down to what’s going to happen on Sunday.
G2 Esports vs Origen is a battle between two teams who like to team fight. G2 is the aggressive team that will pressure the enemy until they have no choice but to fight them. Then when the enemy team finally takes the bait, G2 have full faith that they will be able to clean up any team fight. Contrarily Origen are the team that wait for the enemy to overextend for a play and then punish them with their team fighting. A problem for Origen however, is that when they get the lead doing this, sometimes they don’t seem to know how to close out the game themselves. This leads to Origen doing the exact same thing and throwing games because of it. This could be seen in their series against H2K.
While G2 and OG both like to fight, the way each team works together is completely different. The man at the forefront of things for G2 is the EU LCS Rookie of the Split, Perkz. Throughout the regular season and playoffs, Perkz has held the highest damage percentage for G2 with 29.8% in the regular season and 26.5% in their series against Fnatic. Even against the rest of the EU mids, Perks was top two in almost every statistic for the regular season. Perkz of course wasn’t the only member of G2 doing damage this split though. Emperor was right behind Perkz for DMG% with 26.9% during the regular split, but in their series versus Fnatic, Trick and Kikis were the ones sharing the top spot with Perkz for most games with 23.2% and 25.4% respectively. With the changes in the meta before playoffs, it is quite clear why these numbers changed for G2. During the regular season G2 would have Kikis play a tank, Trick play something aggressive, and Hybrid play Braum. The only difference now is that instead of just playing pure tanks, Kikis can play Trundle and Ekko. Also Trick is still allowed to play junglers like Graves, who fit his play style and end up racking him up high damage numbers.
For Origen on the other hand, it has been the same story since Worlds, get Zven fed and watch him carry. No matter whether it’s the regular season, the playoffs, or even IEM Katowice, Zven is the star of Origen. Zven did not have a DMG% lower than 31.7% in any of the three tournaments just mentioned, which is quite impressive. Zven is one of the true hard carries in Europe because even if Origen are struggling, he can carry a game by himself, and Origen know it. So far in the playoffs Zven has gotten 25.4% of Origen’s total gold and the next highest gold% on the team is PowerOfEvil with 21.2%. Compare that with G2 where everyone besides Hybrid is within 2% of each other, and it’s easy to see who the carry is on Origen. Even with a hard carry like Zven though, if the rest of the team doesn’t show up, it’s going to be hard to win a best of five against a top team.
Amazing and sOAZ might not have jumped in damage contribution like their G2 counterparts did, but what they have done is look more cohesive, and help the rest of the team with their play making. Cohesion is also something PowerOfEvil has shown more of in Origen’s playoff run. PowerOfEvil has been a consistently high damage mid laner for Origen, but problems gelling seemed to be holding him and the rest of the team back. Now after xPeke’s return to the lineup for a few games, PowerOfEvil looks to be growing each and every game into the player that Origen thought he would be. And of course you can’t talk about Origen without mentioning their support, Mithy. Alongside Zven, Mithy has been the other consistent player for Origen throughout the split. Even when the rest of the team looked questionable, Zven and Mithy were usually playing well together and they’ll need to keep it up going into Finals.
Overall, G2 Esports have looked like the best team in Europe for most of the season and it’s not going to stop now. Origen’s play style has not been about playing aggressive in the early game, and that is what they need to dp in order to beat G2. In Fnatic’s only semi-final win against G2, they were able to get an early lead and ride it to a victory. In every other game that didn’t happen, and they were beat pretty efficiently by G2. If Origen wait for G2 to make a mistake before pouncing, that mistake may never come. Amazing and sOAZ especially are going to need to make a difference early on or else Trick and Kikis are going to start making plays around the map with the rest of their team. This series will probably look very similar to G2 vs Fnatic, and the end result will be the same. We’re guaranteed a new champion on Sunday, and unfortunately for Origen, it will be G2 Esports.
Official Prediction: G2 Esports 3–1 Origen
Thanks again for reading my article, and thanks to Oracle’s Elixir and Games of Legends for the stats I used in this article. Any comments are always appreciated.