Photo: Riot Games

As far as regional qualifier openers go, this is a great one. That’s for sure.

Then again, it feels like it could have been considerably better, hype-wise. These two teams are European giants, and yet it feels like they’re somewhat past their prime. Maybe that’s even an understatement. And although we saw short glimpses of their innate potential, they failed to step up when it mattered the most; they failed to play their best when the pressure was mounting. That said, their failures are completely different, and the same goes for their avenues for success.

Splyce definitely diversified their arsenal coming into Summer, and it showed on the Rift almost immediately. They were strong from the very get-go — no long did they await the later stages of the game in an attempt to turn the tides. Instead, they were the ones that were dictating the tempo; they were the ones who imposed their will whenever they saw fit. Such dominant play, paired with their patented team fighting, allowed them to climb the ranks with staggering speed. Once all was said and done, they were neck and neck with Fnatic, and were fighting for a playoff bye. Now, whenever you’re competing with the former “kings of Europe”, there’s a reason to celebrate. They became a member of an elite club, and their incredible resurgence was spearheaded by none other than their own mid laner Humanoid.

Once he signed for Splyce in Spring he wasn’t exactly a top-tier competitor. He did, however, have short bursts of excellence, but they simply didn’t happen often enough to actually warrant any hype or momentum. His level of play in Summer, however, was a completely different story. Humanoid was, by all means, a Top 3 mid laner, and that’s saying something when you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Caps and company. He’s still a bit rough around the edges, but give him a pick that can hard carry and he’ll do the rest. When he was at the top of his game he’s really a force to be reckoned with.

And even though the meta remained the same, Splyce started faltering. There wasn’t any obvious reason as to why that was happening, but week after week they were less and less dangerous. Then again, they were always prone of having dips in performance, so we just thought this was “one of those days”. But they never got back to where they once were; things simply didn’t “click”. After they got outclassed by Rogue it was hard saying whether they lost to a competitor much more capable than themselves, or if they imploded and simply couldn’t mount an offensive. Be as it may, they’re not entering this clash with a lot of hype. Not in the slightest.

They’re no longer getting our full benefit of the doubt, which makes things incredibly complicated betting-wise. We haven’t seen them in action since their 0-3 loss on August 23rd, which means they had more than enough time to get on the same page, fix their issues and enter the gauntlet as a highly competitive, well-rounded contender. But did they iron their kinks out? There are so many question marks this time around.

Despite their inherent inconsistencies, they’re still miles ahead of Origen, that’s for sure. The Spring Split finalists imploded to a staggering degree. Even though they remained somewhat competitive throughout the regular portion of the split, they never reached their former heights. Not even close. They were as inconsistent as humanly possible and their level of play was a far cry from Spring.

In the end, they were unable to climb higher than eighth place. From second in Spring, from a top-tier contender challenging for the LEC throne, to a bottom-tier dweller. That’s as big of a fall from grace as we’ve seen in recent history. Their 7W-11L record left a lot to be desired, and even though you could never really underestimate them, they were unable to get on the same page and mount an offensive. It was a depressing sight, that’s for sure. We’ve seen their highs, and we were definitely not left indifferent. To see them this meek and subdued isn’t a pleasant sight.

The way they ended the split was even more depressing. They are 1-4 in their last five games, and they lost to Rogue, Splyce, SK Gaming and Schalke 04 in a matter of three weeks. The only team they won against is Excel Esports — hardly anything worth bragging about. So if they lost against almost every single team in the region, how will they be able to compete against the likes of an in-sync, hungry Splyce? While they did have a lot of time to step up and get on the same page, we’re just not expecting to see a lot of improvement. They did nothing to earn our trust and even though underestimating Origen doesn’t feel right, they still failed to show top-tier League of Legends throughout the second half of 2019.

Then again, they have a fantastic coaching staff, along with one of the best coaches in the region. They’re all experienced veterans that have experienced playing on the biggest of stages. Time and time again, they’ve felt the pressure of performing. They’ve seen it all, and they know how it’s like to play with their backs against the wall. All of these facts should allow them to prosper and clutch things out, but still. Their veteran status isn’t worth much if the majority of their roster is past their prime.

They definitely have an upper hand due to the sheer fact that they haven’t played in quite a while. They were in a luxurious position. While others fought week after week, Origen laid back, recharged and surely came up with a thorough strategy. They knew who they would eventually have to face so we expect them to come out the gates guns blazing.

With so many VODs do go over, one would think that they’d prepare beyond comprehension; that they would be ready for any scenario. And yet we’re weary of trusting them.

To make matters even worse, they’re not even going to play with their full roster:

This one fact changes everything.

Even if we gave them our benefit of the doubt, even if we believed in their ability to turn things around, losing one of their most important players is as big of a blow as possible. Kold is one of the best junglers Europe has to offer. His cerebral, intelligent and calculated style of play ekes out advantages for Origen more often than not, and he’s also fairly impactful on a wide variety of picks. He’s not exactly at the top of his game at this point in time, but he’s still one of Origen’s biggest catalyst — not to mention the fact that he’s an integral voice in-game.

Without one of their most important players, they’re bound to struggle from the very get-go. Their academy jungler might not be half bad, but he’s nowhere near Kold’s level, and their team-wide synergy is going to suffer. That’s guaranteed. And even if they manage to sync up (much like Team SoloMid did with Spica), they shouldn’t be able to compete with the likes of

Spylce and Xerxe. Speaking of Xerxe, the Romanian jungling phenom is having a renaissance of his own. He’s one of the most underappreciated junglers in the region, and yet his flexibility and sheer creativity are second to none, at least in the LEC. He’s a veteran at this point in time and he’s bound have a field day with a relative rookie on the side of Origen, a player who still hasn’t experienced playing on the biggest of stages.

In the end, we simply have to side with Splyce. There’s no reason not to, and even if they hadn’t found a fix for most of their issues they should still be more than capable of getting the win against a weakened Origen line-up. That said, seeing how Splyce are far from a world class team right now, this could potentially go the distance. Regardless of the final outcome, we should be in for quite an entertaining scrap.

Winner: Splyce, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)