Game 2 of the European League of Legends Championship Series finals in Rotterdam stood out and prompted me to write a little bit about one of my favorite Western support players and arguably a top-2 Western support right now: Origen’s Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez. Sure, Origen lost the series, but it was a valiant effort from OG’s support, admittedly made possible from the classic, “I am a highly-skilled mechanical EU mid laner, so I should be able to play TF, right?” fallacy by G2’s Luka “PerkZ” Perkovic, which Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg also committed in the past.
Throughout the rest of the series, Mithy fell back to Braum because he is an inconceivably strong, world-class Braum player, and Braum is very strong right now. His shield allows him to block projectiles, and it has a low cooldown. In a meta where team compositions consist of up to three AD Carries, that ability is more than useful. Nevertheless, here’s the story of OG’s Game 2 heroic effort, led by Mithy.
Setting the context
In order to fully grasp how this Thresh pick influenced the game, and to be able to completely appreciate Origen’s adaption from Game 1 to Game 2, I will lay down the basics from Game 1 for you.
One of the main issues that leaps to the eye is the lack of early-game pressure in OG’s comp. Sure, in theory Kindred should sort of be able to help the Orianna transition into the late game (Orianna built RoA that game, which several Challenger players did criticize) where Orianna, Ekko and Ezreal will in theory be able to do work. Of course, that’s not what ended up happening, as OG lost.
Why did OG go for that comp? One needs to know that OG, the child of all time great mid laner Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez, struggled massively with the early game during the split. With the exception of some of the Kindred games Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneidershowed in the semifinals, he has frankly looked entirely lost ever since xPeke “left” the team and Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage took over. PoE himself seemed to have slightly regressed in lane and in terms of overall effectiveness. The way Origen beat H2K was ultimately through understanding that PoE simply can’t carry in this meta and through putting all their eggs in the “pass the ball to Zven” basket. And boy did he deliver.
PoE was on Lulu and somehow Zven, formerly Niels, got his signature Lucian for five straight games in a row and did very well in all of them. In the first game of this particular series, however, everything went down the drain. Paul “Soaz” Boyer got ganked a lot, top lane lost, and mid and bot lane had no pressure because they were running scaling champions. The highly mechanically skilled duo of Perkz and Kim “Trick” Gang-yun had free reign and ended up dominating the game.
OG knew its comp had a massive power-trough and took that risk willingly. They did not have any success with assassin compositions in the past. All their success came from compositions where Zven, the AD Carry, was allowed to farm up and carry, while the rest of the team was on supportive champions (except Amazing of course; there are no “supportive” junglers at the current moment).
None of OG’s lanes really had significant advantages, which was part of the reason Perkz managed to explode in that game. He went off and took over the whole game (as he did in Game 3 on Zed, while spamming laugh and dance. This guy is 17 years old, by the way. Good god. So much confidence!).
Keep all of this in mind as you dive into the next part.
It’s Game 2. We are in pick-ban. As soon as Mithy saw the Braum, he locked in Thresh.
This is a highly debated matchup, and Thresh has the edge. Not only can he harass the Braum with auto-attacks without Braum being able to respond effectively, but Thresh can walk up any time and flay him back as well. Others would argue that Braum wins. He out-scales due to his shield and superior ability to off-tank in the late game, and his Q is simply on a much lower cool-down, which allows him to punish Thresh once he misses his hook. Overall, the general consensus is in this meta, Braum is much more effective, as we see multiple AD Carries per team in almost every game, so his projectile-blocking shield allows him to impact games like no other support. I don’t want to dwell on these details. Instead, I will focus on Mithy’s performance.
Before I continue, let’s take a look at the comps.
Orianna Twisted Fate
It’s almost the same situation as last game, but this time G2 has Trundle top (much more pressure than Maokai early) and Twisted Fate mid (less pressure than Leblanc early – it’s a wash overall compared to their last composition in terms of pressure). What changed for OG? Now they are running Kalista/Thresh (a strong lane) instead of Ezreal/Trundle (which is a weak lane).
This pressure, on top of Ekko going off that game and Mithy being just amazing on Thresh, ultimately allowed OG to take one game off the seemingly unstoppable G2.
The laning phase starts. Let me mention at this point that Zven is absolutely more than solid in lane, but Mithy was really the catalyst that led to ultimately the pure domination of this lane and, subsequently, the game.
In the lane, Mithy repeatedly walked up, got auto-attacks off and immediately walked back into the brush to cancel the minion aggro. Throughout the lane he dodges Braum Qs very beautifully. While Mithy is not a top-2 support in the world mechanically, he does get the maximum effectiveness out of his pretty high mechanical skill. And he is certainly elite in many areas such as reaction time, skill-shot accuracy and laning phase in general. Hybrid and Emperor simply got outclassed in this laning phase, as they did almost every game. It culminated in game 4, when they lost lane as Caitlyn/Janna vs Sivir/Braum, which is almost hard to believe. Merely five minutes into the game, the OG bot lane doubled the enemies’ creep score, 40 to 20, despite getting ganked.
This CS lead quickly grew to 90 to 60 and eventually snowballed out of control. On top of that, Perkz’ Twisted Fate did not impress. He fell 16 CS behind (45 to 29), which should not happen, even against the pressure that Orianna can put on you. Twisted Fate was simply not the right pick here to abuse the Orianna power-trough.
Despite Soaz getting solo-killed by the Kikis’ Trundle and being put behind, TF did not manage to find the ultis he needed. One of the reasons is that Kalista and Thresh is incredibly hard to gank for TF. Not only can Kalista ulti Thresh and throw him behind herself and have Thresh lantern her out, but the early damage that these two champions can provide can be overwhelming.
This is exactly what we saw happening by the way, around the nine-minute mark.
Twisted Fate uses his ultimate, Mithy perfectly times the hook to stun him before the Master of the Cards even gets one off, and Zven’s Kalista ults him to safety. Now that “Aphrolift,” also known as “Rush Hour,” is dead, this duo manages to impress on Kalista + Alistar/Thresh more than any other Western pair. Are they on Deft/Meiko or Gorilla/Pray level in terms of synergy? I wouldn’t say so, but that is in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, both teams disengage after many summoners are blown with no casualties and Orianna happily gets to scale.
Mithy’s timing would be useful to OG even later into the game. Around the 15-minute mark, Perkz used his Teleport summoner to TP to a ward and set up a 3-v-3 play, but Mithy managed to hook him the second he appeared, from max range as well.
This is incredibly difficult to pull off, and the elite Western support consistently made it look easy throughout the game.
Before this play, he abused his Swiftness Boots in the mid lane, ran at Twisted Fate (who had less movement speed and threw the lantern behind himself) and flashed during the “Thresh Express” animation to increase the length of it. His Thresh mechanics were on point and frankly, I doubt they even practiced it much in scrims, as we almost never see Thresh these days.
He ends the game with a final hook around 29 minutes on no other than Kim “Emperor” Jin-hyun, this time using a trick where you stand on top of one of your ally champions while you hook so they don’t see the animation as much (it is possible he did not intentionally do this. I almost never see it in competitive play, as it is rarely a feasible move). Keep in mind Emperor is playing Sivir, who has a spell-shield but in spite of it, Mithy lands the max range Death Sentence and the team fight is practically won.
The game ends shortly after that. The train of aggression that was G2 could not be stopped. The synergy between Perkz and Trick was simply too good. Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarekmanaged to be highly effective on Ekko. Sven’s Kalista and Mithy’s Alistar (another champion he is very efficient on) were banned out, as G2 was scared of it. OG reverted to Ezreal and Azir, once again two scaling champions, knowing their dysfunctional early game (unless Amazing went off on Kindred, but against a jungler like Trick that’s not an easy task) could not match up to the powerhouse duo of Trick and Perkz. As mentioned, the former worlds semifinalists decided to go with yet another scaling comp, to no effect. They proceeded to get rolled by Perkz’ Zed, who simply seemed unstoppable on that day.
In the end, OG never had a chance to win this series. It did not have the tools to do the job, and G2 was unbelievably hungry and ready to go to all lengths to get the trophy. Still, Mithy’s heroic effort in Game 2 stood out to me, and it sure as hell stood out to him, as he tweeted he was happy with his own performance after the game.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games.