If you hadn’t heard, the bird is the word at the League of Legends World Championship.
The Europeans won all three games where mid laner Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martinez took the Cryophoenix into the rift. He’s the only player who has wielded the frozen bird at Worlds. But Origen has proven an icy blast from the past is effective, playing a slow style similar to that popularized by the original Anivia master himself, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, and his Counter Logic Gaming EU teams of yore.
In an event that’s shown record fast game times, Origen won a series where every match lasted more than 40 minutes with only 91 kills between both teams. All in all it was an unexciting, but effective, way to win the games.
With Anivia clearing minion waves instantly, slowing the enemy team and walling them off, there may not have been plenty of action. But we still got to see some great play.
In the first game, Origen jumped ahead by scoring early kills in the bottom lane, first with an impressive all-in from Jesper “Niels” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguierre Rodriguez and then with help from their two teleporting solo laners. But Flash Wolves bounced back, building a gold lead in large part due to the LeBlanc play of Huang “Maple” Yi-tang, whose picks allowed his team to make headway against the Europeans. But at the 31 minute mark, with a 4.1k gold lead, disaster struck in the Baron pit for the Taiwanese team: Paul “sOAZ” Boyer dunked his way to a Darius pentakill, swinging the match into Origen’s favor.
The second game was more comfortable for Origen, right out of that CLG.EU playbook featuring Anivia. They simply pushed towards down methodically to build a big lead, despite giving up a couple kills here and there. At the 28 minute mark, Flash Wolves actually turned things around with a big team fight win at Baron, Maple’s Viktor pushing out impressive amounts of damage, but Origen and Niels’ Kalista were still too much.
Flash Wolves made a bit of a comeback in game three, winning a comfortable game on the back of Hsiung “NL” Wen-an’s Caitlyn. But xPeke had picked Orianna instead of Anivia. When he went back to the bird in game four, Origen managed a comfortable, if slow-paced, victory of their own, farming until late and allowing Niels on Jinx to tower push to victory. It often seemed that Flash Wolves were ill prepared to deal with what Anivia, a decidedly out-of-meta selection, brings to the table. Her wave clear and zoning are some of the best in the game, and the Taiwanese team failed to properly react to her with their item selections and playstyle.
When xPeke and Niels took the stage for their post-game interview, they could barely get a word in edgewise as the home crowd in London gave the Europeans ovation after ovation.
The team captain xPeke and his long-time top laner sOAZ are now the only two players in League of Legends history to ever reach three semifinals at the World Championships. But even with all that experience, xPeke says he was nervous against Flash Wolves, even after earning a two-game lead. Still, the team made good calls and pulled out a victory, he said, even if Maple’s LeBlanc gave them trouble in game one.
Now the team must prepare for a semifinal where they’ll battle the winner of tomorrow’s match between SK Telecom T1 and ahq eSports Club. Everyone expects Korean titan SKT to advance, a heavy favorite to win the entire event. But Origen will be waiting for them, and with at least one advantage—an extra day of preparation. They’ll need to make that count before next week.
Player of the Series: Jesper “Niels” Svenningsen, 20/5/13 KDA, 744.6 DPM
In many ways Origen’s rookie had it easy. Origen built multiple compositions around him, giving him support top laners and a mid laner who can disengage and slow for him. But there’s a reason why they were willing to put all their hopes on a player who, just one year ago, had never played on stage.
The AD carry acted as the team’s primary damage source in every game they played, and in games one and two, with Sivir and Kalista, he pulled off some amazing individual plays.
Of course, in many ways his play was par for the course. Niels has proved to be one of the most consistent performers over the League Championship Series (LCS) season, and he’s maintained that attribute in the playoffs and beyond as Origen made their run to qualify for Worlds and then succeed at it.
If Origen hopes to advance any further, Niels must again put together a superlative performance. Whether they face SKT or AHQ in the next round, the bottom lane will be the place best equipped for Origen to leverage a carry performance. And from everything we’ve seen, there’s no reason to doubt Niels won’t provide one.
Play of the Series: sOAZ’s Pentakill
Not only did sOAZ score a rare pentakill, a play that’s always guaranteed to make the highlight reel, it was also a key turning point in the pivotal first game of the series. After falling behind by 4.1k gold, Origen needed a big play to come back, and their top laner provided.
Check out a highlight view with a slick rotating camera:
Tomorrow, ahq eSports Club and SK Telecom T1 will face off at 11am CT to decide Origen’s semifinal opponent. On Saturday, Fnatic will face EDward Gaming in China’s last stand at 8am CT. Sunday features a Korean bout when KT Rolster and KOO Tigers battle at 8am CT.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr