After losing their spot in the EU LCS in 2017, Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez always planned to get back to the top. However, even he knew he had to be realistic.
“These last couple of years, my goal was always to get back,” says xPeke, after watching his team go a reasonable 1-1 in the first week of the LEC Spring Split. “Finally we are back, with a proper team behind Origen, it’s really good.
“But of course at some points I thought, ‘Maybe it will be really hard. Maybe I’ll run out of chances.’ I wanted to keep trying until the last shot, and getting in the LEC was the last shot. So, I’m really happy it worked out in the end and I managed to get back with the team.”
Partnering with RFRSH, the parent company of CS:GO powerhouse Astralis, Origen are back in a big way, and xPeke is not only thankful for the opportunity he’s been given, he’s also happy he can still do things his own way.
“RFRSH have already been in esports, they already know how everything works here. But it’s been really good for my side because they’ve been giving me lots of chances to work with them, help the brand, do everything. They want Origen to be Origen, they don’t want to change it. That means a lot to me because it’s still my team and I feel love for it. Whatever happens, I want it to succeed.
If Origen can emulate the success that Astralis has had in CS:GO over the past year, then 2019 could be a very big one for xPeke and the team. In the first weekend of the LEC, Origen had arguably the hardest two fixtures out of anyone in the league. Up against Worlds finalists Fnatic and Worlds semifinalists G2, xPeke is extremely pleased his team were able to come out of the week with a 1-1 record.
“I’m really happy if we manage to be a top team,” says xPeke after the matches. “But if we can just get wins like today against Fnatic, against top teams, I will be happy with the first year.
Going 1-1 is good for morale. It was a shame because yesterday against G2 our early game was really good, but then their team comp was something we've never played against and we just collapsed and couldn't do anything. But still, happy with the 1-1.
“I would love to get to playoffs and then see how strong we are."
“I wasn't disappointed with the loss against G2, the other way around. I was listening to the comms, and they were talking really clearly, all the time, making plans even when the game was going south and we were losing. It was really hard to do anything against that comp. They were still calmly making plans, saying how they wanted to engage fights: ‘We have to do this, we have to engage this way.’ If you have that kind of communication, that’s really good because that's what teams struggle with sometimes. When they're losing they stop talking.
Of course, xPeke is hoping for more than just a few wins against good teams: “I would love to get to playoffs and then see how strong we are, that’s reasonable. The team’s goals are changing. The first time we met, we were pretty ambitious. We wanted to make playoffs, aim for Worlds, but it was more like we were working towards that. But now after practicing for a few weeks the players probably think it’s more than doable. We’re not looking at Worlds like a dream, we’re working to make it happen.”
Although Origen’s lineup is new, the organisation has been at the top before. Now that the LEC is here, xPeke is in the fairly rare position of being able to compare the new-look league to the old EU LCS. The first thing that struck him was the changes to the studio.
“The branding of the LEC is really strong, and Riot made sure everyone knows what it is. Backstage here it’s something else, you really feel like you’re in a super league. Everything is branded from the cafeteria, to the green rooms, to the hallways. When you walk around you’re like, ‘Man, this is next level.’ Wherever you are, even in the toilet, you feel like you’re in the LEC.”
"You can do like we’re doing and try to travel from Copenhagen to Berlin every week."
It goes beyond just the rebrand though. The long term partnerships means Origen should never be in a situation like they were in 2017 again.
“Not having relegations means it’s super safe now for the teams to secure sponsors,” says xPeke. “If you start 0-2, they’re not going to be worried. They’re not going to be like ‘Oh my god, you lost two games.’ They know you can bounce back, you can try new stuff, and be more creative. You can do like we’re doing and try to travel from Copenhagen to Berlin every week. We wouldn’t have done that if we were scared of relegation. We would’ve gone for the safe option, be in Berlin, have no stress. But we believe what we’re doing is good and we have the chance to try it now.”
It’s been quite a few years since xPeke has been a player, but he’s still only 26 years old. He tells us he does miss playing, but it doesn’t seem like anything’s going to take him away from being a team owner.
“I miss the sensation of the tournament itself, but I don’t miss everything going towards it because I know it’s a lot of effort, all those practice hours. But of course I miss walking out on stage. It would be nice to play again, but it comes with a lot of responsibilities beyond just being on stage.”
xPeke is leaving those responsibilities to his new squad of players, and he has every faith that they’re going to have a successful year. We’ll just have to wait and see how far they can go.