We’re now well into the second half of the LEC Spring Split and it’s crunch time for the Playoff hopefuls. G2 are still flying high in first place but there’s every chance that another team could knock them off their perch.
That team could be Vitality or Origen. Both teams have looked unstoppable at times this season but have been plagued by a lack of consistency. Last week was a perfect example of that as both suffered crushing defeats at the hands of Fnatic.
It was especially painful for Origen who a week prior had emerged as sudden title contenders after becoming the first (and so far only) team to take down G2 this season. But after losing to both Misfits and Fnatic last week, the former Worlds semifinalists have quickly dropped back down to a team at risk of missing Playoffs altogether.
Meanwhile, Vitality has finally taken sole possession of second place from Schalke but will be regretting a missed chance of further increasing the gap. Korean jungler Lee "Mowgli" Jae-ha has begun to hit his stride so it will be crucial that the team can build up some steady form on the road to Playoffs.
With the new Playoff format for the LEC, a high placing in the regular season is vital as it could allow you to pick your match up or even earn you a bye into the next round. Vitality vs Origen will have major implications on the title race and both teams will be very aware of that. Who will be able to step up and make a huge statement to the rest of the LEC with a major win?
Origen can recover from last week’s hiccup
Last week was a disaster for Origen. Not only did they fail to capitalise on their immense momentum from taking down G2, but they also offered Misfits and Fnatic and route back into the top six – two teams right next to them in the standings.
Those three aforementioned teams and SK Gaming, who have improved dramatically over the last few weeks, are currently fighting for the last two Playoff spots but at the same time, all of them are just two or three wins behind Vitality.
Origen came into this season with an extremely promising roster but seemed to be lost in the shuffle as fans were more fixated on the returning Worlds finalists Fnatic and the newly-formed “super-teams” of G2 and Misfits. Yet, with a mixture of vast experience and exceptional talent, there was always a feeling that Origen could surprise and take it all. Trevor “Quickshot” Henry bought into that promise and made a bet with Indiana “Froskurinn” Black on the Euphoria podcast that if Origen wins the Spring Split, she will have to get a tattoo.
After a bumpy start, we didn’t see Origen’s true potential until week four when they simply dismantled one of the league’s best teams in Schalke as part of a large win streak which was capped off by an even more impressive performance against G2.
The biggest question mark over Origen’s roster was veteran support Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez after his difficult stint in North America with TSM. The Spaniard initially struggled but appears to have finally shrugged off his NA form and whenever he performs, his team wins.
We’re beginning to see Mithy slowly return to the form that made him a world-renowned support. The support who captained G2 to multiple EU LCS titles. The support who helped Origen take Fnatic to the limit in what many consider the best grand final in European history. The support who lead Origen to the World Championship semifinals.
That semifinal appearance back in 2015 was the last time that Worlds was held in Europe. After a long four-year wait, Worlds will return to European soil later this year and there’s no doubt that Mithy will do everything in his power and to reach the grand stage once more and perhaps even one-up that previous performance. Though that is still a long way away and for now, his concentration will be solely on taking the first step and trying to win the Spring Split.
Vitality will never stop fighting
Team Vitality have clawed their way to the top, and will never back down from a challenge. The fiery group will be tired of being overshadowed by the likes of G2, Fnatic or even the history of Origen. With the revolution that the LEC has brought, there is a clean slate and a fresh start for a team that will never give up.
Last year Vitality went to their first Worlds as major underdogs and took down the former World Champions Gen.G as well as tournament favourites Royal Never Give Up. Those victories sparked a European revolution and gave the region’s teams hope that anything was possible. Yet, a place in the knockout stages slipped through Vitality’s fingers while G2 and Fnatic stole the limelight.
Once again this season, all eyes have been on Fnatic’s struggles and G2’s dominance while Vitality has steadily picked up wins – keeping themselves within arms reach of the top spot. If you’ve ever watched an interview with ADC Amadeu “Attila” Carvalho you will know how confident this roster is in defeating any challenger and claiming the LEC trophy.
When Origen and Vitality met earlier this season, Vitality swept the floor with their opposition. Origen were sitting ducks as they were repeatedly pulled into fights and came off worse every time.
Particularly impressive in that game was Vitality’s one experienced head, Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet who finished the game with a ridiculous KDA of 7-1-7 after dominating his top-lane opponent Barney “Alphari” Morris. Cabochard has the highest kill participation (68.2 percent) and the most kills (51) of any every top-laner in the league and will be ready to slaughter Origen once more.
His experience will be pivotal against Origen whose roster has almost twice as much experience as Vitality’s roster. But Vitality’s young core of Attila, Jakub “Jactroll” Skurzynski and Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro are no longer rookies. An inexperienced Vitality side froze on stage in the third-place match of last year’s Spring Split in what was a huge lesson for the team.
Vitality grew over the year and did not make the same mistake when they found themselves in the third-place match again in the Summer. In the space of a season, Vitality went from a young group of hopefuls to world beaters. It’s scary what this team can accomplish if coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi can continue that trajectory. Every great journey has bumps in the road and the match against Origen will be an important mountain to conquer – Vitality won’t stop until they reach the summit.