League of Legends observers were at risk of seeing the two teams that dominated the 2015 European LCS summer split fail to reach the semifinals, as a result of meta-game shifts and the surge in competitive level the region experienced.
Instead, Fnatic and Origen will head to Rotterdam, as they reached the semifinals after handily beating Vitality and the Unicorns of Love, respectively.
Origen's one-sided 3-0 victory over the Unicorns of Love was not without moments of uncertainty. The squad's support, Alfonso "mithy" Aguirre Rodrigues, admitted on the broadcast's analyst desk that the games were not as clean as Origen would have wanted. "We just played really bad," mithy said. "Hopefully, we look at these games as warmups, fix up our mistakes, and put good games against H2k."
In the first game, Origen demonstrated their understanding of the latest meta-game shifts with a strong engage-centric composition (Gragas, Kindred, Orianna, Lucian and Alistar) and a better management of lane swaps. By the seven-minute mark, the team had plowed through two towers in the top lane (to zero in UoL's favor).
An extended skirmish at the 19:30 mark helped secure the game, as Origen's damage dealing threats reached a critical point ahead of schedule. By the time the game ended, Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen's Lucian (8/1/4 KDA score) and Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage's Orianna (4/0/7) each totaled more than 40 percent (Zven 40.95 percent, PowerOfEvil 42.6 percent) of the team's damage output.
In Games 2 and 3, Origen secured first blood on the solo laners, but the Unicorns of Love held significant gold leads: 4,700 at the 16-minute mark on Game 2, and 4,900 at the 24-minute mark on Game 3. In both games, UoL surrendered the leads in extended skirmishes, and PowerOfEvil and Zven (who were UoL's primary targets) benefited from the ensuing bloodbath with kill and assist gold.
During the mid-game phase after Baron Nashor takedowns, Origen alternated between pressuring the side lanes and grouping around objectives in an effort to spread UoL thin. Kiss "Vizicsacsi" Tamas and his teammates held last stands, and Game 2's brawl nearly netted them a victory.
In the postgame interview, PowerOfEvil credited a rise in energy levels and better team decision-making for the 3-0 sweep. On a personal note, he added, "A huge factor was watching Peke playing scrims because I learned a lot more about communication, about map awareness. I'm more aware of where to stay in lane swaps."
Origen booked its ticket to Rotterdam on Sunday, just as Fnatic did Saturday with a convincing victory against Team Vitality 3-1. Vitality's attempts at nullifying Fnatic's mid laner, Fabian "Febiven" Diepstraten, had proven fruitless in Games 1, 2 and 4, as the mid-laner survived and built a lead in ensuing team fights.
Fnatic used one of the latest trends to re-emerge following meta-game changes: the selection of the Teleport summoner spell in the top and mid-lane. Febiven explained what makes it special in the broadcast's postgame interview; "I think double TP right now is really, really broken because you can just put side lane pressure all the time."
Unlike the Unicorns of Love, Fnatic escalated their early gold leads into landslide victories in the first two games of the series. In Game 1, Febiven's Kassadin (3/0/2 KDA) was instrumental in shutting down Lucas "Cabochard" Simon-Meslet, Vitality's top laner, in the early game. Febiven was also a key for his team by providing side-lane pressure while his teammates fought around Martin "Rekkles" Larsson's Ezreal (37.5 percent of Fnatic's total damage dealt, 4/0/6 KDA). In Game 2, Febiven's Lissandra and Rekkles's Sivir spelled doom in blitzes, well aided by their front line, Noh "Gamsu" Yeong-jin's Poppy and Johan "Klaj" Olsson's Alistar (0/2/12 KDA).
Vitality had its revenge in the third game, as Ilyas "Shook" Hartsema and Petter "Hjärnan" Freyschuss powered their teammates' takeover efforts on their comfort picks, Elise and Sivir. Erlend "Nukeduck" Holm's Gangplank, Raymond "kaSing" Tsang's Morgana and Cabochard's Maokai provided the finishing touches for a very mobile and skirmish-heavy team composition and rolled over Fnatic, finishing the game with a stylish ace at the 32-minute mark.
In the final game, Fnatic pushed its chips in on team-fighting and overcame an otherwise strong Vitality, as openings created by Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon's Graves allowed the squad to break Vitality's formation and set up Gamsu and Febiven for double Teleport forays. Despite a continual back-and-forth (with skirmishes going either way minute by minute from the 27th to the 30th), Fnatic had the last word.
In the broadcast's postgame interview, Spirit credited the two-week long boot camp for the team's resounding victory and highlighted his mindset throughout the series; "I just trusted my teammates," he said.
Up next in the EU LCS semifinals:
Origen faces H2k-Gaming
Fnatic faces G2 Esports