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xPeke: Origen on the hunt for a new, young ADC to nurture

Enrique "xPeke" Cedeño Martínez seemed his usual happy self after taking a game off Vitality last Thursday, his team’s first Victory screen this split. Origen had just drawn with Vitality in its first match with xPeke playing as AD carry, following the exit of Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou after Origen’s 0-2 first week.

Usually a mid laner, xPeke must fill his team’s AD carry spot until they can find a replacement that fits the team dynamic and has the motivation to work with others to achieve success, something FORG1VEN lacked. Origen finished the week with two ties, having also drawn with Schalke 04.

PICKING UP THE PIECES

forgiven

FORG1VEN and soon forgotten: the veteran ADC lasted just one week on Origen

It’s an awkward situation for xPeke and Origen. Origen’s spring split didn’t reach the heights of their incredible summer 2015 performance – where they earned a semi-final finish at Worlds – but they did reach the spring split final, losing 3-1 to G2 Esports. After losing their bottom lane to G2, they brought on FORG1VEN as their AD carry, a good pickup on paper especially considering the short amount of time they had to find a quality player. While questions about FORG1VEN’s mentality always loomed (he’s never stuck with a team for more than a single split), very few could have predicted him stepping down from the lineup after just the first week of competition. Yet that’s exactly what happened, landing Origen in a rough spot for week 2. Though the situation was dire, Origen did manage to pick up two ties, but for xPeke even one tie was cause for celebration. Despite his team’s more upbeat attitude going into week 2, nobody expected them to take even a single game off anyone that weekend. “Last week we had really bad scrims,” he said. “Even this week wasn’t ideal. But I felt this week there was a more positive vibe. Everyone understood this week that we were gonna lose. Every game (laughs). So it was like ‘ok, we’re playing with Peke, we’re going to improve, but he’s not an AD main.’ We felt that when we came to LCS, I wouldn’t be able to do good.”

And improve they did. Origen looked like a completely different team going into week 2. Although they lost game 1 against Vitality, they could’ve easily taken the game but for a few individual mistakes. They looked far more decisive, aggressive and cohesive with xPeke in the lineup, something the team noticed the more they played with him. “When we saw some improvement and that we were hitting some idea of how to play the game, I think everyone was kind of trying harder,” he says. “Everyone had this idea of ‘we’re actually not bad’. Even though I‘m not a main AD carry we are doing good, playing around that. We are able to rotate, we are able to play to our strengths and me being an unskilled AD carry is not a restraint, so let’s play moving on the map. I think that today showed off a lot, that everything we’ve been practicing paid off, even though we were losing many games we learned a lot from them. Everyone’s mindset was a bit better than last week, even though everything was against us.”

xpeke

Owner, captain, teammate... and now substitute AD carry

ON THE HUNT

Of course xPeke’s stay in the bottom lane won’t be a permanent one. To challenge for a spot at Worlds, they’ll need to find a top-class AD carry to compete with the other strong bot lanes in Europe. According to xPeke there won’t be a repeat of a FORG1VEN-style recruit; Origen will look to nurture some up-and-coming talent, hoping to replicate what they did with Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen. Along with Alfonso “Mithy” Rodriguez, Zven left the team for spring split champions G2 Esports during the summer, leaving Origen with little time to find a replacement.

xPeke suggests that whoever they pick up next will be given a more gradual introduction to the team. They want to give that person time to adjust to playing at the highest level, before throwing him into the deep end.

“We need someone fresh, someone new, a really skilled player, talented. The problem is, if we were to pick one right now, he probably wouldn’t know anything about the game. He would be more skilled than me, but he would be more at a loss than me when it comes to moving, playing teamfights as a team. We’re looking for a guy that is really good, has some idea of how to play the game, one that we can teach.”

That time to adjust and grow as a player before hitting the big leagues is important. Europe is stacked with talent, you only have to watch the EU Challenger series to see that. Misfits’ Steven "Hans sama" Liv is a fantastic example of that. Sadly, the young French AD carry is too young to compete in this season’s LCS. Transitioning them into the LCS environment can be difficult, however. According to xPeke, some players have a tough time dealing with losing initially, and can burn out before they improve. Origen wants to avoid that scenario.

SOMEONE TO CONNECT WITH

“We don’t want to just pick this guy, put him into the first week of LCS without any practice and then lose,” he said. “It can be really devastating for a new player with high expectations and high hopes. Losing could actually stop his development as a player and I think right now, the right thing for us to do is to try out people in scrims a lot, and whenever we see one guy has the potential, just let him practice a lot more. When we feel like he’s ready, put him in the LCS without pressure, just to practice one game. Swap him and me, swap whoever we have and I think that’s what we are going to look for, but right now we have to find this player we feel we connect with.”

Of course, Origen played against a rookie ADC in the series against vitality. Danish youngster Viktor “Reje” Eriksen played his first ever LCS games, and though Vitality finished the week with a tie and a loss, xPeke was impressed with his debut, noting he’s the type of player Origen will be looking to fill their AD carry spot in the future. His bold choice of locking in Vayne for his very first game on the LCS stage highlights just how much confidence these young players have, despite their lack of professional experience.

Regardless of who Origen picks up as their next AD carry, fans will be encouraged to know there’s a strategy already in place. The failed bet on a veteran that didn’t have the hunger to compete anymore has clearly taught xPeke a lesson. If they can repeat what they did with Zven and integrate a player with incredible potential, we could see a new star AD carry emerge from Europe in the future. For now, though, xPeke will have to continue his deep-end laps in the bottom lane as they take on Roccat and Giants in week 3 of the EU LCS. Tune in today and Friday to catch all the action!