SK Gaming vs Origen
For our third match of the day, we have an incredibly exciting clash between two deceptively strong teams that are looking to lock down their playoff spots.
Origen are currently sitting comfortably at third place, but they're only one win ahead of SK Gaming. This game isn't exactly do or die for either team, but with only four games left to be played in the regular season portion of the split -- every single win matters.
Every team wants to win whenever they can in order to lock down a playoff spot and continue fighting towards the LEC trophy. SK Gaming, however, are an unknown quantity, even after seven weeks of competitive play. They're at moment exceptional, but also painfully passive and mediocre. How can that be?
It seems as though that it first depends on their draft. If they put Selfmade on a reactive jungle pick that can't dictate the tempo of the game and heavily impact it, they tend to fall apart. If they don't give Crownshot a late game hyperscalling AD carry, they don't have late game insurance.
It is as if there are two versions of SK -- one that's capable of going blow for blow with the upper echelon of the LEC, and one that's simply not cohesive enough (yet) in order to get into playoffs. The problem is, they don't have any more room for error.
They need to step up and play at a high enough level (consistently) in order to attain a Top 6 finish.
Conversely, Origen has a pretty easy, straight-forward schedule. Other than SK Gaming, they have Rogue, Schalke 04, and Excel Esports -- arguably the three worst teams in the region right now, and by proxy, three easy wins.
They can afford to lose this one, but they know that they sholdn't, because stringing four wins puts them into second place, and getting a Top 2 finish is more important than ever.
Judging Origen's play, however, is anything but easy. After they took down G2 in incredible fashion they fell off the hype bandwagon in week six. Fortunately, they were able to bounce back with a clean 2-0 last week against Splyce and Team Vitality -- two teams that were ranked above them at the time.
They were decisive, proactive, they created leads on an individual level and then snowballed them across the map. It was a fantastic showing across the board, and while it wasn't flawless, they did what they had to do in order to get the win. They didn't crumble under the pressure, and had managed to attain sizeable leads through a somewhat slow macro-oriented playstyle.
This is an incredibly important match for both teams. Perhaps that's even an understatement. Origen are currently tied for third with Splyce, and they not only want to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, but they also know that the playoffs are far from a done deal. They need to lock down a couple of wins, and perhaps even tie for second place with Team Vitality.
They simply cannot afford to drop any games going forward primarily because the playoff ranking carries so much significance. Will that impact their play? No one knows. They're known for their inconsistent flashes of brilliance, and you never know which Origen will come out and play on the day. This time around, however, they should be cohesive, aggressive, and willing to make the winning play.
SK Gaming are no slouch, but they're even more inconsistent. The fact that they lost to Excel Esport and then took down G2 Esports the day afterwards only goes to show how volatile they can be, but they haven't been as cohesive. Their drafting was suspect, to say the least, and not just last week but ever since the meta shifted with patch 9.4. They're capable and strong, but will that be enough this time around?
Origen want to make a case for themselves, and have a statement game. This is the moment where they prove to the world that they belong in the Top 3, primarily because they've been clumped with the rest of the gatekeepers for so long.
We're going with Origen on this one, but do have in mind that it'll surely be an unnervingly close affair that, in theory, could go either way. It really depends on which team comes out with the better draft, and who manages to impose their playstyle first. Origen have the odds in their favor, but as we've seen from the last couple of weeks of competitive LEC play -- that doesn't mean much. They do, however, have ample momentum on their side, and should be more than capable at taking SK Gaming down. It just won't be particularly clean or dominant, but they should be able to get the win.
These nerve wracking moments are exceptionally hard. SK Gaming's players are all young relatively unproven talents, but they've never played on this big of a stage. When push comes to shove, they will probably crack under the immense pressure. Conversely, Origen is filled with top tier veterans that have all (excluding Patrik) played on the Worlds stage. They've already achieved stellar results both regionally as well as internationally, so they won't feel the pressure as much. That very well could be the determining factor going forward.