Origen vs. Unicorns of Love
It feels strange typing that last sentence. After witnessing Fnatic and Origen power through the semifinals at last year’s League of Legends World Championship (merely six months ago), it’s been astonishingly painful to watch them struggle through the Spring Split for different reasons.
Both of these teams are accustomed to success; their very foundation is built from ascendancy. The distressing manner that Fnatic and Origen have lost games, and the contested efforts in some of their wins, has left both of these historically dominant teams as underdogs heading into the playoffs.
Origen has gone through a different sort of growing pains this split. The brainchild of Origen, xPeke, went into semiretirement during the offseason. That led to the introduction of PowerOfEvil in the mid lane for most of the Spring Split. Finding a team identity with a new mid laner was an issue all year, and not all of the blame rests on PowerOfEvil’s shoulders.
Origen’s weaknesses became more pronounced, and their strengths transparent. Apparently xPeke wasn’t just the mastermind behind the scenes, but the heart and soul of this willful creature as well. That was no more apparent than when xPeke returned at the end of split and Origen looked more like Origen from Worlds.
With that said, the biggest surprise was no xPeke heading into game one for Origen. While Unicorns of Love ended the Spring Split as a higher seed thanks to their great start, they really struggled at the end of the year. That had many prognosticators predicting an Origen win, no matter who started in the mid lane. Origen wouldn’t disappoint, either.
Origen showed they were the seasoned, battle-hardened team many witnessed at last year’s Worlds. In game one, Unicorns of Love struggled to find proper positioning. In particular, Vizicsacsi was abused multiple times by Origen for his lack of coordination. While game one was close throughout, it was really a contest of which team would make the least amount of mistakes.
That reward went to Origen, who managed to take Baron 28 minutes in the game and win it four minutes later.
Game two felt much like an extension from game one, with Vizicsacsi getting caught out in the first two minutes and giving first blood to Origen. Unicorns of Love fought back though, and again both teams had uncharacteristic mistakes. Unicorns of Love’s mistakes just proved to be more fatal, with a bad Baron call sealing their fate in game two.
Going into game three, Unicorns of Love had one goal in mind: create as much chaos as possible and thrive in it. While it sounded great in theory, the actual application of this process proved to be futile. Origen forced Unicorns of Love into mistake after mistake, and while they didn’t play cleanly by any means, they proved to be the team capable of diminishing the consequences of their mistakes.
Origen won every important team fight on their way to a 3-0 series sweep.
Team Liquid vs. NRG eSports
On the other end of the spectrum, you have a Team Liquid squad that has figured it out in the last four weeks of the LCS split. After a rocky start that led to the retirement of IWillDominate, the rookies have stepped up big time for Team Liquid.
Matt has become the support player Team Liquid has needed all along, providing a cool, calming, yet commanding voice in team fights. Dardoch has more than adequately stepped up to replace IWillDominate. Meanwhile, veteran players Piglet and Fenix have shown why they’re still extremely talented and capable of carrying a team.
NRG has shown small stretches of brilliance this year, but for the most part their inability to play against tougher competition has been their undoing. Altec has been inconsistent all year, and Impact has struggled to find his true identity on this team. He was brought in to be a veteran leader, but communication has been a clear weakness of this team.
Game one was a lopsided victory, with Team Liquid controlling the tempo of the game from the very onset. If not for an unusual first blood given up by Dardoch and a late Baron steal by NRG, this would have been a perfect game for Team Liquid, who went on to win 11-1.
Game two wasn’t much different in terms of the outcome. NRG gave Dardoch Lee Sin, a champion he is especially good on. After picking up two kills in the first five minutes, the snowballing had begun. Dardoch would find triple and quadruple kills in the mid game, proceeding to go 12-2-6 on Lee Sin, posting more damage than NRG’s carries combined.
In one of the most lopsided matches of the weekend, Team Liquid rounded out this best of three series with another outstanding victory. Dardoch played more of a support role on Gragas, enabling Fenix and Piglet to go 14-4-13 combined. NRG already looked defeated before this game, and they quickly fell behind by 5,000 gold before the 20-minute mark.
It was all Team Liquid in this 3-0 series sweep.
Origen (1.96) vs. H2K (1.87)
I wouldn’t describe Origen’s performance against Unicorns of Love as dominating by any means, but more of what you expect from a veteran squad. They capitalized off Unicorns of Love’s mistakes, and just felt more comfortable in the moment.
H2K features a roster full of talented individuals that really put it all together this Spring Split. This will also be a rematch of the EU LCS Summer semifinals from last year (where Origen started their amazing run after qualifying from the LCS Promotional). Ryu’s continual improvement (he has a 7.2 KDA, best in the EU LCS) has allowed FORG1VEN and Odoamne to step their game up.
We’ve yet to see how this H2K roster will fair in a best of five series, but collectively they have played better then Origen this entire split. Even in H2K’s losses, they were extremely competitive and closely fought games.
While we can’t merely focus on the regular season, it’s important to note that Origen has no wins against H2k, G2 eSports, or Vitality. This typically is an indication that a team is capitalizing on weaker competition’s mistakes, which is exactly what Origen did against Unicorns of Love.
While I don’t discredit Origen’s amazing ability to prepare and focus on these crucial matches, we’ve yet to see them beat a top tier team this split. They’ll get another chance here, but if they make the same mistakes against H2K that they did in their quarterfinal matchup, I don’t see them advancing.
I like H2K’s macro game here, and both teams should play more on the conservative side. Despite their relative inexperience, I feel H2K is the better team here.
They’re not strong favorites by any means, but H2K will be favored here. Take H2K if your weekend will find you visiting an eSports betting site.
Team Liquid (1.53) vs. Counter Logic Gaming (2.52)
Team Liquid enters this series after thoroughly dominating NRG eSports in the quarterfinals. In fact, NRG never held a gold lead in any of the three games. Team Liquid is on such a roll that only a truly great team can beat them. Is CLG up to the task?
Team Liquid has made the leap to contender status, and CLG doesn’t have to look any further then their week 8 lost against them for proof. While Team Liquid has been sprinting to the finish line, CLG is a team that jogged to their second place finish. They started out the split strong by perfecting the lane swap and split pushing meta, but that strategy has become stale and linear now.
If CLG wants to win this series, they’re going to have to diversify their strategy. They tried to do that at the end of the split by placing Darshan on more team oriented champions, but results have varied. CLG will no doubt have an advantage in the top lane, especially considering that Xmithie will prioritize Darshan over any other lane.
Meanwhile, Team Liquid prefers to enable their bottom lane (which has statistically been one of the best lane duos in the NA LCS this year).
In my upset pick of the week, I’m taking Team Liquid over CLG. They’re the hot team right now, and I don’t think Darshan can win split pushing nor can CLG win enough 5vs5 team fights to diversify their strategy. This should be a great series to watch though, and I expect it to go the full five games.
Both teams will see plenty of play this week.