It's an intense weekend for Origen in the League of Legends European Championship Spring Playoffs. Following the loss against Fnatic in the upper bracket last weekend, the team now has to fight its way through the lower brackets to reach the finals and potentially claim the Spring Split crown. The first hurdle, Rogue, was taken care of fairly dominantly.
With the titans of G2 staring them in the eyes, we spoke to Origen's coach André Guilhoto. He told us how his team adjusted after the loss against Fnatic, and what his team's preparation looked like heading into this weekend.
I want to start with something I heard you say on the EUphoria podcast. You mentioned that, after your loss against Fnatic, you had to re-evaluate how you prepared for the series. Can you elaborate on that?
Yeah. So basically, even though we're playing the series online, there still is a big difference between how both teams behave in scrims and "stage matches" like this Bo5. I think that we neglected that part a bit when we practiced. We had really good win ratios with certain champions, but that didn't work out on stage. We felt that it was because players were playing a bit looser, both our players and the enemy players. We had to re-evaluate and be a bit more critical towards what we think actually works not only in scrims, but also on stage. I think against Rogue we came with a much better prepared idea, and I think it showed.
"So far, the main issue seems to be our first game each series. That's what we need to address now."
So when you notice those issues in your preparation, how do you act on them and implement changes for future matches?
You just try to see what scrim matches and stage matches have in common, and where you can generate leads. If, for example, you win fights but you lose the push, you need to make sure that you develop your gameplay around that. If you can only get an advantage when the enemy is willing to fight you, that's probably not a good thing. That's the evaluation we made.
I think that showed against Rogue as well, with our blind answer of Ezreal and Yuumi into Senna. The Senna had to be willing to trade in order for our Ezreal and Yuumi to get some leads. When we played the match, and Senna and Zilean were purely focused on the wave and were pushing us in, the match became completely different from what we expected if it had been a scrim game.
Having the knowledge that against Fnatic your preparation was off, how did you prepare to face Rogue this week?
I think what was more important is that we tried to prepare by focussing on ourselves more. Not only because it's Rogue, but because we were counting on having two matches this weekend. We were really confident about winning the series. The first game was a bit of a fluke, in a way. But yeah, we decided to focus more on ourselves to prepare for this weekend, instead of focussing on our opponents. What do we want our laners to do? What do we want from our play style? We want more potential to set up plays. That's what we value a lot. Anything that can offer some kind of hard push or CC, we're willing to take it. So we decided to focus on ourselves and adjust our champion pool to things of which we believe they can get us actual leads, and have windows throughout the game to be relevant.
So did Rogue catch you off guard in the first game, then?
I don't think so. It's a bit of inside info, but I feel that in our first games so far, both against Fnatic and Rogue, we felt sleepy. That showed today. Now that it's the second time in a row, we consider that an issue we need to solve going into the series against G2. I wouldn't say Rogue caught us off guard, but instead we weren't really "there". Perhaps it was the nerves because it's an elimination match, or maybe our pre-game routine is just failing. We talked about it, and we're planning on making a few adjustments to make sure that, when we come, we already have our energy levels high.
It definitely felt like your team woke up as the series progressed, going from a loss in game one to an absolute stomp in the fourth game. Can you tell me how you as a coach notice your team changing over the course of a series, and what you do to help them?
I just think our series started from game two. Even though that wasn't a very exciting game, I think we executed that game very well. At least we showed a bit of 'scrim Origen' in game four! *laughs* Game four was scrim Origen all over.
But to answer your question: coaching these matches is not an exact science. There is not one answer. We do the best we can to prepare for the possibility of five games. We have a lot of snacks, we make sure that after every game we get some fresh air—we need to get some more oxygen in the brain. We try to make sure that with small stuff like that they can hang on for five games. So far, the main issue seems to be our first game each series. That's what we need to address now.
"Every team has a legitimate chance to beat all the others in this top four."
Was another reason to focus on yourself during preparation that, by preparing for and studying two opponents, you might get half a job done for both enemies and accidentally lose against Rogue? Or were you not afraid of that?
There's always a risk, right? We obviously want to reach as far as possible, and if we underprepare against Rogue we risk that we lose against them. If we focus purely on Rogue, then we don't have anything prepared when we face G2. We try to find a balance there. We tried to find a trend in both teams, but overall when you have two best of fives in the same weekend it's most important that you're comfortable with whatever you're playing against. That's why we focused on ourselves, and figure out what our priorities are. If you try to figure out specifics for each opponent, it's really difficult to plan out the weekend.
Let's now talk a bit about G2, who looked incredibly scrappy last weekend. What's your perspective on them? Are you confident that you can emerge victorious against them?
I think that every team has a legitimate chance to beat all the others in this top four. It's obviously less likely that we beat G2 or that MAD Lions beats Fnatic, but it can happen. We'll go into the series knowing that we have to perform better than we did against Rogue, but knowing too that we can reach that level.
G2 is obviously a really strong team. I feel that they will have something to prove after their series against MAD Lions, but we also have something to prove after our series against Fnatic. Both G2 and our team have something to prove on Sunday. It's going to be an interesting match. We're obviously happy that we won against Rogue, and we respect them as opponents, but we want more than that. We just think that we need to aim for the big dogs like G2 and Fnatic, so a win against Rogue doesn't leave us satisfied.
Finally, it was revealed last weekend that your Top Laner Alphari was part of the Spring Split's All-Star roster. Do you want to share any thoughts on that?
I think that he's a fantastic player. Not only his skill in the game is great, but everything he brings to the team outside of the game too. Everyone talks about the champion 'ocean' of Nukeduck, but Barney's [Alphari] versatility is a huge help for our draft phase. Last year he showed that he's one of the best Top Laners when he's playing weak side, and this year he's showing that he's one of the best Top Laners playing strong side.
I think it's extremely hard for a Top Laner to get the MVP vote, purely because of the role itself and the impact it has on the game. But to our team, he definitely was an MVP on many occasions.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.