Midway through the second day of the League of Legends World Championship, the home-field advantage is real. Europe now has a 2-1 record against China, including a win against that region’s top team.
In the second match of the day, Origen played the Chinese champions LGD Gaming in a game few expected the Europeans to win. But the underdogs survived one of the closest matches of the event so far—backed by the event’s biggest play so far—to beat LGD in front of an adoring crowd at the Le Dock Pullman in Paris, France. And it was hometown favorite Paul “sOAZ” Boyer who delivered the killing blow.
It was a close match for over 34 minutes, with no team holding more than a 2.3k gold lead up until that point. Origen gave up highly contested power pick Lulu in the draft, leading the Chinese team to play a protect composition centered around their superstar AD carry Gu “Imp” Seung-bin on Kog’maw. Origen countered with a similar composition featuring Orianna in the mid lane and Kalista at AD carry, with an Annie support enabling the ridiculous aggression of a cannonball Annie engage, with Kalista throwing an Annie armed with her big stun into the fray.
While Imp got going early, scoring four kills by the 21 minute mark, it was Origen captain Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez who turned the match on its head at the 33 minute mark. Perhaps that’s no surprise. A World Champion in 2011, no player has as much big stage League of Legends experience as xPeke, and he’s shown time and again he lives for it.
After calling an LGD bluff at Baron, Origen pushed mid lane to force the Chinese team to respond. In the ensuing team fight, Origen took advantage of all their strengths: Jesper “Niels” Svenningsen threw his support Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez into LGD, stunning three players, and xPeke followed it up with an Orianna shockwave that destroyed the Chinese squad. Moments later, xPeke exited the fight with a quadra kill. Origen later secured the fifth kill and inhibitor as well as a Baron.
The match wasn’t over at that point, but it was heavily in Origen’s favor. Later LGD Gaming made a desperate and inexplicable call to take Baron as Origen’s top laner sOAZ pushed into their base through bottom lane. The Frenchman took LGD Gaming’s nexus as the rest of his team engaged LGD to prevent them backing.
In some ways, it mirrored another match between China and Europe that surely was in the forefront of sOAZ and xPeke’s minds: Perhaps the closest match in League of Legends history, the OMG vs. Fnatic match from Worlds last year. In that game, sOAZ needed one more hit to secure the nexus and the win, but failed to make that attack. This time, he made no mistake as he ended the game.
Of course, on the flip side of any amazing performance—like xPeke’s 6/1/9 KDA Orianna game and his 33.2k damage to champions, topping the next highest player Imp by a whopping 7k—is a poor one. LGD Gaming jungler Zhu “TBQ” Yong-Quan’s play on Vi was, simply put, terrible. His 0/6/1 KDA belied an amazing number: He dealt 3.0k damage to champions as a jungler. That’s less than half the 6.9k damage dealt by his support, Braum. His play in team fights was also often nonsensical, using Vi’s targeted ultimate on non-priority targets. It was a game Zhu, and LGD Gaming, will likely try to forget.
The win gives Origen a 1-0 record and places them in contention to make it out of what should be the toughest group of the event, Group D. Tomorrow they’ll face Team SoloMid before taking on KT Rolster. LGD Gaming will face the opposite schedule, and while the loss is surely a setback, it’s hardly a death sentence for a team that should contend for the World title. Each team in Group D has 5 matches left to play, and one impressive victory is just that: one win.
Of course, for Western fans and especially European fans, it was an exciting and encouraging one. The victory gave Europe a 2-0 record against China (though EDward Gaming would later pull one home against H2k Gaming to bring the tally more even).
Overall, it’s an encouraging sign for the home continent. People expected Fnatic to contend for the world title, and they’ve done nothing to dissuade anyone from that opinion. Origen’s success today quiets some questions surrounding Fnatic’s performance against them in their regional final earlier this year, and enters another team as a potential contender. The European teams may be taking advantage of the hometown crowd, but that’s a bonus they’ll have all month long. And it’s certainly making for an exciting event so far.
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