Origen - The Incredible Journey from Challengers to Champions
The kings of splitpush, masters of pressure, lords of flexibility. However you want to call them, they have once again shown that they are a force to be reckoned with and are far from retiring. After Xpeke's revival project at the start of season 5, his team has been nothing but success, and is still rising. Being a huge challenge for undefeated champions of Europe, getting to semifinals at Worlds and finally winning IEM San Jose, they have already proven to be a world-class team - all in their freshman year in LCS. But all of this is surely just beginning.
Everything started at the end of 2014 with disband of old Fnatic and creation of Xpeke's new baby, Challenger Series team Origen. This group of European veterans with a promising rookie AD carry managed to qualify for Season 5 summer split with no complications and were predicted to be a top 4 team by majority. However, no one could predict what they were to become. By taking the first two weeks by storm to go 4-0 and steadily securing second place right after Fnatic, Origen were already showing the base of their abilities and strenghts on which they would eventually build their general strategy.
The Age of Learning
Origen used to be quite a different team back in LCS. Soaz was still finding himself after especially stressful season 4, Amazing was trying his best to synergize with his new team and apply the experience he has been able to gather before, Xpeke was struggling with keeping up with the practice along with managing the organisation, Niels was doing his best to unleash his talent while delivering consistent performance and Mithy must have had hard time organising the shotcalling system, which most likely used to be a huge chaos. Whole team was still very new and it was far from perfect. They were many times called "consistently inconsistent" by the nature of how their team worked and originally had hard time finding the compromises that would suit the playstyle of every team member. By the end of summer split though, they started to make great steps towards setting up their strategies and win conditions and they have finally proven it in the finals against Fnatic, which have been 5 true games of inches. Delivering such a challenging performance against a team that hasn't lost a single game prior to this series? Most people realized something has changed. And it indeed has.
The Worlds Collide
Only half a year into their new professional careers and they already had to prove themselves against the best teams at the World Championship. After getting KT Rolster, LGD and TSM for their group, most of analysts have predicted their chances of making it out to be close to zero. First of all, let me briefly introduce their opponents.
Feared by most, predicted to be a favorite in the tournament, Chinese powerhouse LDG has shown insanely strong season by placing second in the spring split in a very close series with EDG and by winning the summer split. Lot of knowledgeable people in the scene predicted them to win the tournament over SKT and everything seemed like they were at their peak. However, poor drafts, lackluster strategic approach, illness and internal conflicts caused complete breakdown which may have been one of the biggest surprises in the League of Legends history so far. Along with their brothers EDG and IG, China wasn't able to present any kind of satisfying show, considering their incredible imports from Korea, which made a big part of top players in the region. We have been once again taught that importing star players might not always be the salvation that the team needs. At the same time, Origen has shown that a team able to speak one language fluently and close to perfect team composition with no weak links appears to be far more effective. While North America has already learned, China still hasn't waken up yet.
You never know what to expect from KT Rolster. After their disasterous start of season, they were able to bounce back, find their footing and secure the seed at Worlds. Known for their star toplaner Ssumday, they were expected to benefit from the meta and get carried on his back. However, they found a wall inside of Origen that didn't let them go through. The reason is simple: KT has always played their teamfights and teamfight compositions very well and by the end of season, it has been often the way they would secure most of the wins. On the other hand, the Kings of splitpush Origen beautifully countered their playstyle with a spot on 1-3-1 compositions, resulting in games where they managed to not teamfight until after 30 minutes against KT's characteristic teamfight oriented picks, and delivering, in my opinion, one of the best and most entertaining games of this season's Worlds (KT vs OG, Group Stage Game 1). This has besides other things shown how much has Origen matured through the time they have been playing professionally and how well they can withstand and apply pressure. Both games ended up being very challenging and fun to watch.
After mentioning two powerhouses like LGD and KT, it would be foolish to set TSM on the same level as them. They have had severe problems finishing the summer split and coming to Worlds, which resulted in crazy moves such as almost completely ruling out the coaching staff and stepping in as a team-owner. The collapse was not just the coach's fault, there were also few internal complications and very poor performances all over the place, but they still managed to stay relatively strong and got to the finals of North American LCS. Coming into Worlds must be approached differently though. TSM has proven several times to be incredibly adaptive and able to show clutch plays when participating on international ground. Loco has had very good drafts and Bjergsen has always been able to deliver world class performance when it mattered the most. However, coming into this year's tournaments, it was probably not the case as the struggles clearly overweighted their ability to sharpen their plays on stage.
Origen has been able to secure a second seed in the groups after falling just one win short of KT due to questionable games led by their characteristic inconsistency. Coming into the quarter finals against Flash Wolves from Taiwan, they were able to show outstanding performance sticking to their strategy and playing clean, objective based games. Flash Wolves were quite hyped from the group stage because of their well played finish which resulted in getting a first place tie with KOO Tigers. However, their pick compositions which have been prioritized heavily by them throughout the whole tournament got countered with very intelligent drafts by the European squad. They couldn't secure their win conditions in time and they've let Origen scale towards lategame with their disengage heavy champions.
Getting to the semifinals, our European rookies didn't show enough to shut down the Korean Hypetrain of SKT that later in the tournament proceeded to win the finals against their regional rivals KOO. However, getting the top 4 placement in such packed tournament was a great feat by itself and they couldn't ask for more in their first year in LCS.
What's the key to their succes then? How did they manage to pull off such an outstanding performance while being considered underdogs coming into the group stage?
- The Players - Soaz, Amazing, Xpeke, Niels and Mithy. When we look at those guys, one thing have to come first - Experience. All of those players except for Niels are long time veterans, have gone through various metagames and have crazy amounts of experience. They have probably played most of team compositions, most of playstyles and against most of the top players. Mixing it all together, it is no surprise that the level of adaptability when playing against different opponents is very rich and is enabling them to perfectly counter every possible strategy and playstyle they can come across. This is the reason they essentially have no coach - they don't need it. As long as they can discipline and motivate themselves to stay on top of the meta, they won't need any staff behind them
- Their Shotcalling - Their blessing and curse at the same time. To briefly explain the system, everyone talks and feeds the info to the team and everyone shotcalls, depending on the situation and priority. This is the one reason why they have been able to pull off so creative plays like the baron call versus KT or several outplays during the 1-3-1 composition setup. The amount of cleverness they show during the games is on a whole new level and it will for sure keep entertaining us in the future. On the other hand, this is very bad approach in hectic situations and chaotic teamfights that need one clear shotcaller to quickly make a required play in order to come out as a winner. Lot of times it has been the cause to their overextending and throwing off the leads, but if sharpened and molded correctly with one player taking the lead in said scenarios, it could very well be the perfect solution for this squad.
- Pressure and Splitpush - The main aspect of Origen's gameplay is applying pressure on multiple fronts and objective-based rotations enabeled by splitpush. While the splitpushing usually has a set form it is played in, Origen has evolved it to a more complex strategy, setting up a 1-3-1 multi splitpush with strong 1v1 champions on toplane and midlane players, waveclear AD Carry and disengage jungler+support. Their goal is different from most of the splitpushes - they don't aim to take towers on their own by simply outclassing the enemy player on one front. They prefer more team-based effort of making the enemy very uncomfortable and waiting for a little misposition while the opponent makes rotations to get the right players at right positions in order to effectively match the splitpush. By this, they have been able to make amazing plays such as the baron call versus KT Rolster in group stage, and many others. Toe to toe with splitpush comes the pressure. Origen has shown great ability to utilize pressure, secure small leads and transform them into big snowballs, catching the enemy off guard. I wouldn't be scared to say that their perfect game looks just like perfect game of SKT, which is a great thing on it's own.
Xpeke steps out, PowerOfEvil steps in
For the IEM, Origen has decided to move Xpeke to substitute position while recruiting a midlaner from Unicorns Of Love - PowerOfEvil. This young talent has already proven himself with great performances all year long and shown great potential with proper guidance and team. With Origen highly prefering European players and PoE potentially being the best free agent talent out there, it seems like a perfect choice. But it gets even better. It turns out the playstyles of Xpeke and PoE are very similar and while the champion pools differ a bit, it is usually still control mages, making the approach towards the game look almost identical.
IEM is not only a great proof (and a nice promise for future tournaments) that the midlaner change was successful, but it also confirmed that the learning curve is still going up, they are still getting better at the playstyle and consistency is still being sharpened for better. Origen has been able to secure relatively easy tournament win at IEM San Jose after defeating CLG in the finals 3-0. To summarize it up, not much changed even after the player movement and Origen looks stronger than ever.
Let's end with some predictions - From what I've seen and from what I think, Origen is on a great way to win the Spring split of Season 6. The playstyle and strategy is on point, they stick to the game plan and the talent and skill ceiling appears to be even higher with PowerOfEvil joining the club. I have no doubts they will play even better than we've seen so far and will aim towards perfection.
Hey guys! I'm Sixty and this is one of my first articles here on Goldper10. If you liked it and wanted to see more, don't hesitate and follow me on twitter @Sixty_lol to stay in touch with the new content! I will be also making a youtube channel with video analysis very soon, so keep tuned! Until then, have fun and see you next time.