Riot Games confirmed today that the newly-franchised EU LCS, now called the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), will begin this January with 10 franchised teams. Just like the NA LCS’ franchised teams in 2018, these 10 are meant to be long-term partners without fear of relegation or replacement—at least not right away.
Among the 10 teams set to compete in this new league is Origen, the prodigal son of the EU LCS team founded by former pro Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez in 2014. This time, however, Origen is entering with a partner in Astralis, one of the most well-known Counter-Strike: Global Offensive orgs in the industry.
Origen has had one of the most tragic runs through the European League scene, and this return to the pro stage has all the makings of a great homecoming story. After xPeke, one of the most well-known players in the world, quit Fnatic to found the team, he led them through the 2015 LCS qualifiers, placed runners-up in the summer playoffs, won the regional gauntlet, made semifinals at Worlds, and then won IEM San Jose—all in 2015.
With such an unprecedented start for a new team and an all-star lineup of Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider, Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez, and xPeke, it looked like Origen could be unstoppable. And then 2016 happened.
The year started out alright with a runner-up finish to the Spring Split, but then Origen bombed out of the Summer Split with a ninth-place finish, forcing them to play in the relegation tournament to hold onto their LCS spot. They won, fortunately, but the relief didn’t last, because the pattern of failure had only just begun.
Origen placed last in their group in the following year’s Spring Split, heading to the relegation tournament once again. That time didn’t go so well, however, and Origen were relegated from the league. After a mediocre run through the Challenger league, the team disbanded in 2017 and went radio silent until they competed in the semi-pro EU Masters tournament this year.
Returning as a team in the LEC means one thing for Origen—redemption. To grab hold of its old fans, xPeke’s organization will have to prove that, while owned by Astralis, it won’t squander away its second chance.