Just like that, the time has come to crown the first ever LEC champion. It feels appropriate that three of Europe’s most prestigious teams in Fnatic, Origen and G2 will be competing in Rotterdam to write a new chapter in Europe’s history books.
And with a new era comes a new format as Origen and Fnatic will battle to decide who will face G2 in the final the very next day. It will be an incredible 48 hours for League of Legends fans with two high-stakes best of fives gracing the Ahoy Rotterdam arena.
Fnatic versus Origen is one of Europe’s biggest rivalries, which originally began with Enrique “Xpeke” Martinez’s departure from Fnatic to create his own team. The last time the two teams met in a best of five was one of the greatest series in European history as Fnatic lifted the 2015 EU LCS trophy following five epic games.
A win for Fnatic or Origen will give them huge momentum going into the final though the hard work will only have just begun as taking down G2 looks like a gargantuan task. The regular season leaders made a statement by dismantling Origen in the second round of playoffs with a dominant 3-0 victory.
Defeating G2 in the final might be the hardest challenge either team has ever faced but we have already seen this season that both teams are more than capable. Origen handed G2 their first loss of the season thanks to an inspired Zed performance from Erland “Nukeduck” Vatevik Holm, while Fnatic’s bot lane duo backdoored G2 during a sensational match in the last week of the regular season.
Months of hard work will all culminate this weekend but there only be one winner. Who will book their place in the final and challenge G2 for the trophy?
Started from the bottom
It’s been a rollercoaster season for Fnatic who had a nightmare start to the Spring Split. Coming off the back of their incredible Worlds 2018 run, there were high hopes for Fnatic despite a change in the mid lane.
Yet, in the first few weeks it looked like the team had completely forgotten to play the game and in a disastrous turn of events, Fnatic found themselves rooted to the bottom of the standings.
However, LoL fans will know by now that you can never count Fnatic out and once again the team has made a miraculous recovery, clawing their way from last place all the way to top three. All five players are finally on the same page and suddenly, Fnatic look like a formidable threat once more.
In his last game before joining Fnatic, young midlaner Tim “Nemesis” Lipovsek picked up a pentakill to help MAD Lions win the EU Masters. Fast forward to his first series in the LEC Playoffs and he waltzed into Vitality’s base and slaughtered all five members in their own fountain for his first LEC pentakill.
You would think that the 19-year-old would have exploded with emotion yet he sat there calm and collected, nothing has phased him so far this season. It’s clear that the Slovenian thrives under pressure.
The last time these teams met was one of our first glimpses of Nemsis’ true potential as he starred in Fnatic’s Week Six slaughter of Origen. Fnatic won with 20 more kills than their opponents and a 13k goal lead after the young midlaner ran rings around the team as Zoe.
Nemesis won’t be the only player matched up against a veteran either as Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov will look to outperform Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez. Mithy is one of the most decorated supports in European history after his time with G2 and his previous Origen stint while Hylissang will be looking to add to his trophy collection from last season and cement his own legacy. The Bulgarian is certainly going about that the right way as he is arguably in the best form of his career.
His bot lane partner Martin “Rekkles” Larsson says Hylissang does things that no other support does, as shown against G2 when Hylissang went on a one-man mission to take down the enemy inhibitor which eventually stayed down just long enough for Fnatic to backdoor and win.
Finding a way to win no matter the circumstances is the mark of a true champion and that is exactly what Hylissang will have to do to bring the gold back to Fnatic.
A triumphant return?
A couple of years since their relegation, Origen have returned and are back with a vengeance. It was a bit like a time-skip from an anime: the team went away for a little while and came back much stronger both on and off the Rift. With a mix of youth and experience, Origen looks like a well-oiled machine thanks to the work of Coach of the Split, Andre Guilhoto.
A bit like Fnatic, Origen got off to a fairly slow start and found themselves in the middle of the pack, unable to put together any momentum. But after handing G2 their first loss, everything for Origen suddenly clicked and they were able to ride the wave of the subsequent confidence boost. Yet, that confidence may have been shattered last weekend after G2 took their revenge in the second round of playoffs with a resounding 3-0 win.
It was a series that was undoubtedly a huge lesson for Origen and will fuel their final block of practise heading into the finals weekend. Sometimes a team needs to lose in order to reset and we’ve already seen that Origen can bounce back from adversity.
Instrumental to that will be Barney “Alphari” Morris who impressed in the series against G2 despite the result. His top-lane opponent Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau has been in inspired form during the playoffs, surviving multiple tower dives and ganks though there’s still the feeling that the Fnatic man is susceptible to mistakes. Bwipo will extend and fight no matter what and it will be crucial that Alphari punishes him if Origen are to take the series.
And equally important will be Czech ADC Patrik “Patrik” Jiru who had the highest damage share of all LEC ADCs in the regular season (31.8 percent). Patrik has been extremely impressive this season but despite his best efforts, he was overlooked in the LEC All-Pro team votes and didn’t even make the top three. This is a huge opportunity for Patrik to do what Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup couldn’t do last week: take down Fnatic, surpass Rekkles and announce himself to the world as a superstar.
Origen fans have had a difficult wait for the team’s return and an even longer wait for a first taste of silverware. Origen will be desperate to reward their patience and finally put their name next to Fnatic and G2 on the champions’ wall.