The newly formed European League of Legends team Origen is widely expected to lose its match-up against the legendary Korean squad SKT. Their first game of today's World Championship semifinals didn't change that. But an amazing series of fake-outs did show that Origen isn't going down easy.
Barely five minutes into the game, two SKT players had Origen's Paul "sOAZ" Boyer isolated at the top of the map. SKT had already taken out Origen's outer turret on the top lane, so Soaz didn't have any defences to which he could easily retreat. It seemed pretty much certain that Marin and Bengi -- the two SKT players -- were going to zero in and kill him:
Soaz was playing as Kennen, a tiny furry ninja creature with throwing stars and Pikachu-esque lightning powers. This meant he had the agility to potentially escape from the clutches of SKT. But bear in mind, SKT is the strongest League of Legends team in the world by a large margin. Outmaneuvering two of their top players didn't seem like a thing Soaz, let alone most players at Worlds, could pull off.
As Marin and Bengi closed in on Soaz, he ran back in the direction of his base. There was no way he was going to reach it in time to survive. Then just as he passed by a large rock wall separate the top lane from the jungle, Soaz cast a spell to teleport back towards the enemy base and over the wall:
As you can see in the clip above, this sudden teleport threw Bengi off, making him plunge headfirst in the wrong direction and putting some much-needed distance between him and Soaz.
There's an important detail to note here before I keep going. The teleport move Soaz used is called "flash," and it's one of the most commonly used "summoner spells" in League. Every player in a League game is allowed to choose two summoner spells before the start of a match. Flash is almost certainly the most powerful summoner spell in League because it allows players to perform these kind of spur-of-the-moment jukes. But doing so comes at a price: summoner spells have extremely long cooldowns. So if you cast flash prematurely or end up dying anyways, it's considered a waste of a very valuable ability that will likely end up costing you further down the line in a game.
Soaz using flash to go in the opposite direction it seemed like he should have been going in was a daring move. And it didn't move him out of harm's way. SKT kept up the chase. Without flash, Soaz had to narrowly dodge a long-ranged attack by simply stepping to the side at just the right moment:
He was still running towards SKT's base. And he kept running closer and closer to it to keep himself a step away from SKT's killing blows:
At this point, it seemed like Soaz's only hope was to suicide -- running into SKT's towers so he'd be killed by their defences, and therefore denying SKT any possible experience they'd otherwise earn by killing him. And that's when things got really crazy.
Soaz ran into the third and final bush in that chunk of the top lane, making himself invisible to SKT for a moment. Then he hurriedly cast his other summoner spell, "teleport," which drops you at a target location after a short charge-up period.
(Side note: Yes, I realise I called flash a "teleport" ability and then described another ability that also teleports you and is actually called "teleport." League's nomenclature sucks!)
Still hot on his heels, Marin and Bengi lunged into the last bush in the hopes of catching Soaz and finishing him off. They even managed to get a couple of hits on him. But before they could do any real damage, he managed to disappear:
...back to the safety of one of his own towers:
You can watch the whole play here. Notice how the crowd and the commentators both start flipping out. That's because you don't normally see shit this epic 6 minutes into a game:
League fans on Twitter are calling it one of the best plays of this year's Worlds, if not the best. Here's a small slice of people's reactions right after the juke:
Origen still ended up losing the match to SKT. But they managed to do more damage to the team than anyone else has so far in the tournament. Soaz's phenomenal outplay at the beginning of the match helped his team find a secure position for themselves for the entire early-game period. And for a while, they actually seemed like they were winning.
If they do, that would be really crazy. But even if they don't, Origen has already shown that they're a force to be reckoned with.